Tag Archives: Taiwanese cuisine

Organic Hot Pot

14 Dec

Organic Hot Pot – 齊民集火鍋organic hotpotlocationdes

 Information: A new documentary hit the Taiwan screen recently called: 看見台灣(English: Taiwan From Above). Besides showing you Taiwan’s stunning scenery, the main focus of the film is on the devastating effects the Taiwanese industry has had on Taiwanese soil, air pollution, water pollution and so forth. It also tries to encourage people to care for the environment and it applauds the upcoming and slowly rising organic farming trend. So what better way to take part in improving Taiwan than going to an organic restaurant ey? Honestly, I am a big fan of wholefoods and was really excited to hear about this hot pot chain. I was not disappointed at all; not only were all of their products organic, but a lot of it was also handmade, which gave for some interesting and super tasty combinations of food. I recommend trying their homemade fish/meat or vegetarian balls, I couldn’t get enough of those. Overall you could tell that the quality of the food was really good and really fresh. Besides the restaurant, they also sell a number of handmade products. It was a new experience for me here, as organic food is hard to find.(and usually extremely expensive). I also liked their non-plastic approach on plates, chopsticks etc; the entire restaurant had a very no-nonsense feel to it. organic3

Rating: A little more expensive than your average hot pot, expect to spend 300-900NTD, but I think it’s worth the money. It’s less expensive than buying organic food in stores and there really is loads to choose from. Here’s their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/qiminmarketorganic2

Street Food: Hot Stinky Tofu & Duck Blood

20 Sep

tofu ducl blood
Location: This amazing looking snack can be found at plenty of night markets, but I bought it on beautiful Maokong Mountain. Nearest MRT station : Taipei Zoo Station (Map).

Information: Sometimes.. names of Chinese or Taiwanese dishes are really creative.. and sometimes you just get what you pay for: Spicy Stinky Tofu & Duck Blood is exactly that: pieces of foul smelling Tofu, Dark Duck Blood Jelly in an extremely spicy red-brown colored broth. I know, I know, it doesn’t sound appealing; but the interesting thing is, the creamy tofu, the slippery duck blood and the hot broth go together really well. The duck blood is simply congealed, which feels like you’re biting into flavorless pudding; but because it’s been simmering in a spicy broth, you get the full hot flavor coming out of it when taking a bite (have some water ready). Stinky Tofu is actually not as bad as it sounds. I think you can compare it to cheese; smells bad, tastes less bad. All it is is fermented Tofu (Like pickles, sour cabbage and yogurt. All fermented food products).  I like cooked versions of Stinky Tofu because the taste of ferment lingers when taking a bite. The outside of any version is usually firm or crunchy and the inside is soft and creamy. All these combinations of flavor and texture make it a really interesting snack! Prices are usually under 50 NTD. Note: I’ve given up on checking for anything English, because it’s usually just not there. So I’ll try to provide the Chinese characters as much as possible. If you have any questions on anything, just post in the comment section below 🙂

blood1bloodz

Categories: Street Food

Night Market Snacks: Pig’s Blood Cake & Pork Gelatinous Dumplings(BaWan)

13 Sep

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The much bigger than expected Jingmei 景美 night market can be found behind Jingmei Station, exit 1

Note: These dumplings aren’t actually dumplings; it’s just a term I used to describe their appearance; read more to find out

Pig’s Blood Cake (豬血糕 , zhu xue gao)

Information: Finally, I get to introduce my favorite snack in Taiwan (Pig’s Blood Cake). This pitch black snack only has a few ingredients, but the consistency and texture are to die for. Pig’s blood cake is made of exactly that: Pork Blood. You can find it in plenty of dishes, but the night market version is the best. The blood is combined with sticky rice which is then steamed and put on a popsicle stick. When you order one, you can choose whether you want chili paste on it or not. The savory popsicle is then dipped in soy broth (not always) and rolled around in peanut powder. Sometimes cilantro is added. Texture is sticky, chewy, like a spoonful of savory-sweet thick rice pudding; but better. Imagine eating peanut butter chewing gum that falls apart into your mouth. I’m not sure if this description makes you want to eat it; but it is really good; I never skip this snack when going to a night market and neither should you! Note: Jingmei is the only market so far where I found a cake shaped like the picture below

bloodcake

“Pork Gelatinous Dumpling” (BaWan)

Information: When walking further down the market, we stumbled upon a dish called 肉圓 (rouyuan), another traditional Taiwanese snack which in Taiwanese (local language) is called Bawan. It’s some sort of big dumpling made of rice flour, starches and water, which gives it a somewhat gelatinous appearance. The stuffing apparently varies ( I read this.. on the internet), but ours was stuffed with some pork, cilantro and bamboo shoots). It was topped off with savory and sweet sauce (there were different kinds). The texture was very soft and gooey and even a little creamy when biting on it. Taste of the stuffing was a little bland, but the sauces added to the flavor; not bad! I came home only to find out later that this is quite a special and traditional dish; so there must be better versions out there. Excited!  More to come!bawan

Categories: Street Food

Cold Tofu Dessert: 豆花

8 Sep

Traditional Tawainese Dessert: 豆花douhualocationdes

Name: 三兄妹。Located in the popular shopping area Ximending 西門町. (Ximen Station Exit 6. See Map)

Information: The great thing about Taiwanese desserts, is that it often isn’t super processed, and so you get ”pure” ingredients, which can makes desserts here much lighter. You can also often choose ingredients and the amount of sugar added. So there’s always room for dessert! Yay! This dessert restaurant is located in the food area of Ximen and It’s probably the biggest one in the area because it offers a wide selection of traditional desserts. You can pick many variations of shaved ice, snow ice, fruit ice and the dessert I chose: 豆花, a bean curd dessert. What you get is a big chunk of cold, flavorless tofu combined with other ingredients such as sweetened kidney beans, red beans, green beans, fruit, soft peanuts, sweet potato, taro,  jelly, tapioca and lots more. If you find a shop selling primarily 豆花,  you usually get to pick your toppings. I picked a peanuts and tapioca pearls version. They start of with pouring some black sugar water into a bowl. Then comes a huge amount of tofu, toppings and some crushed ice (optional). The peanuts were softened and thus created a somewhat peanut buttery taste when eating it. I’m a fan of wobbly desserts, so I really love Tapioca (and so do the Taiwanese, you can get it with nearly everything sweet!). but it doesn’t necessarily add a lot of flavor, it’s the texture that matters. Be sure to give it a try!

peanuttapioca sanxiongmei

Categories: Dessert

Some unusual Parts of the Pig

1 Sep

Pig Eyes, Pig Head, Pig Colon… for Breakfast

piglocationdes

When you get to this bus station (closest MRT: Wanfang Hospital Station (map)), cross the street and turn right and walk for about 200 meters. You’ll find a traditional market on your left hand side (a little complicated). Many other (but not all) markets will have this kind of food. By market I mean the more or less traditional markets, not the night markets. These may sometimes open very early in the morning and close around lunchtime. Markets like this are more local.  They can either be indoors or outside. Ask around! There’s bound to be one where you are now or will be in the future! Alright, let’s start!

Information: Somehow, when I was told about pig eyes (豬眼睛) as a local delicacy, I got exited immediately (I’m all in for trying out new kinds or styles of food) . It was only a few days before the actual date however, when a friend told me it was breakfast food; we had to go there early, as pig eyes are really popular and sold out quickly. That’s when I needed to man up a bit (eyeballs for breakfast; as Taiwanese as I am trying to be, that doesn’t sound good no matter how hard I try). But, as the brave adventurous western person I am, my mind told me that anything chewy, squishy and round was going to be amazing and I was fully prepared. Again, I was in for a surprise. We got served some pig eyes, pig head and colon. These were accompanied by a bowl of noodles and some side dishes (tofu, soy egg, Chinese spinach). The eyes tasted like biting on very tender pork fat. Nothing chewy or squishy about them. They were well cooked and had a very soft and savory meat flavor. There was nothing unsettling about it. The head consisted out of very tender pork meat, but since it was scraped from the entire head, every piece of meat had a different size. Pig colon just tasted like your average intestine (to me), if you’ve ever tried any. The aftertaste is usually very strong and a little bitter (a little like liver). You either love it or hate it. All of the dishes were topped off with thickened soy sauce and ginger. For breakfast however, this is still a very heavy meal and so if you want to try it (please do, you’ll miss out if you don’t), you can take some home and eat them at a later time. I found out that this is a really local kind of food. Many people my age haven’t tried it and it may even sound strange to them. Therefore I feel that it’s a must-try food! Also, I think it’s much more common outside of Taipei. Well, enough rambling; Picture Time!

pig eyes colon headeyescolontofy

Categories: image photo (3)

market table

Steamed Bread Dumplings (蒸包)

28 Aug

 location dum+lingsNearest MRT Station: Zhongshan Elementary School Station (See Map).

Information:  When I first heard people were going to take me to eat steamed dumplings, I just thought I was going to eat the regular kind (like this one), but steamed. I was in for a surprise. Located around a small temple, breakfast/brunch restaurant 圓山老崔蒸包 serves up some delicious steamed dumplings made of a chewy kind of bread. These were just like filled Chinese buns (包子), in the size of a regular dumpling, but the texture was very different, probably because of its smaller size. The dumplings came with many kinds of homemade dipping sauces. You could choose between a pork or beef filling;  the taste was wonderful. Steaming food is a great way to preserve flavor and you could really tell that none of the juices and flavors had left the dumplings after taking a bite; full flavor, really nice. Sauce created that little extra ‘oomph’.   As a starter you can order some hot and sour soup (酸辣湯) with stinky tofu; very thick, rich and tasty soup; give it a try! It tastes different every time.dumpling breaed restaurantdumpling bread

Rating: Prices: 10 dumplings for 80 NTD; I couldn’t stop eating! Fresh, handmade, delicious. A power breakfast! I was told this restaurant had great quality food. I was also told people often go here because it’s close to a temple and people believe buying food around a temple will give them good fortune. (A little contradictory; nevertheless, great food!) The restaurant opens around 5:00 and closes around 13:00, so better go there early! (Although I’m sure you can find other places. I also wonder if this could also be served for late lunch or dinner; any ideas?)

Categories: image

Street Food: 3 kinds of Seafood Snacks!

30 Jul

Nightmarket Streetfood:3 Seafood Snacks (Fish Balls, Fried Squid and Oyster Noodles)

nightmarket

Above: 花枝丸 (huazhi wan) – Fish balls

Left: 炸魷魚 (zha youyu) – Fried squid

Right: 蚵仔麵線 –  (e zi mian xiang) Oyster noodles

locationdes

(Shilin Night Market, Shilin Station (see map)

Fish Balls

Ready for some street food? We’ll start off with some delicious Fish Balls. Fish balls are mostly made of fish (different kinds, cod or haddock is often used), and come in many shapes, colors and sizes. Boiling them in water and adding some spices and/or sauces afterwards is the easiest version (the snack version that is). They can also come in different flavors, like spicy or sweet, for which they are boiled in a certain kind of stock. There are also many fried versions. The color depends on the kind of fish used or what kind of stock they’re boiled in. Besides fish, you can also find lobster balls, shrimp balls and many other kinds of seafood. They can even have different kinds of filling, such as meat or roe. The texture is a firm, chewy outside, and the inside is somewhat like a soft sponge. It’s very moist from the inside and has a not too overwhelming fish flavor. I especially like the more spicy version, so the taste can linger around for a while. It takes a couple of bites getting used to the texture, but it’s really good.  Play around with spices and flavors until you find the perfect tasting version of this great snack. On the night market, this snack will cost you no more than 30 NTD. Totally worth a try, don’t you think?

ballz

Fried Squid

I suppose this one speaks for itself. I guess you can compare fried squid to squid rings at your local fast-food chain (if they sell them), but it’s much less crunchy (less batter used) and you get much more of the squid flavor and texture. At night markets, there are often different ways to eat squid. Fried or grilled are among the most popular. My version was chopped up into smaller pieces and I could pick a flavor (there were different kinds of sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavors). It was then thrown into a small box, together with some sauce (depending on the flavor you picked) and herbs. I was surprised how much the flavor added to the taste. I like squid usually, but in soup or hotpot I find it a little boring. Combining it with sauce and herbs however, made it completely different. Also, I’m not a huge fan of fried food usually, but this wasn’t too oily and the bouncy squid texture was still there. Prices are usually around 50 NTD.  Not bad. Not bad at all. jjsquidjsquidnesssqui

Last but not least: Oyster Noodles

This dish should actually have its own post, as it is considered typical Taiwanese and doesn’t have be street food necessarily. But I happened to see it at the night market, and this place (阿宗麵線 – a zong mian xiang) is really popular! The noodles are a kind of vermicelli called Misua. These noodles are very thin and very slippery when cooked. The oysters are cooked in a thick dark brown broth. When finished, you can add herbs (cilantro) , black vinegar and/or garlic. It’s called oyster noodles, however they may contain pig intestines instead (like mine) or lack any of the above mentioned . It’s all about the noodles and broth though. Noodles and broth combined leave for a very thick, slimy noodle dish with a very strong savory flavor. 阿宗麵線 is also found at the popular shopping district Ximending (Ximen Station), where you’ll find people lining up around lunch or dinnertime and you usually eat while standing. You can’t go to Taiwan and not eat oyster noodles. Give it a try!

place oysteroy

Categories:                                                                                   Street Food

Eating at Taipei 101 – 小南門(little south gate)

28 Jul

Taipei 101 Foodcourt : Little South Gate (小南門(傳統豆花)

xiaonanmen

Taipei City Hall Station (See Map)

Information: Taipei 101 is definitely a major tourist Hotspot. I wouldn’t call myself a big fan, but the top view is beautiful at night, the building is pretty impressive, my all-time favorite restaurant is located right next to it AND; there’s a lot of food in the food court!  As Taipei 101 has a very international feel, selling brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton and other expensive clothes and gadgets,  it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the food is also very foreign- oriented. You can find Baskin and Robbins, Cold Stones, American Fastfood Chains, a German bakery, Korean food and Indian food. All pretty swell I suppose, but I was still hoping to find some local foods to enjoy. Luckily, the ”Little South Gate” restaurant fit my needs. It was actually famous for a Taiwanese tofu dessert (I’ll leave that for later), but the food was pretty good. There were about 15 dishes on the menu, all consisting out of rice or noodle dishes, soup and vegetables. The names didn’t really explain all that much, as mine was called: ”special noodles, mushroom and meat soup and hot green vegetables”, (which was definitely true, they weren’t lying). It didn’t seem like it contained anything out of the ordinary. Food was good, not expensive at all (which you would expect at Taipei 101); prices varied from 100 – 120 NTD. Also, I couldn’t finish it; that was really a lot of food. So, going to Taipei 101? Enjoy some easy, fast local food at The Little South Gate ! (By the way: there’s no English menu, but the picture speaks for itself)

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Rating: Food courts are not well-known for great quality food. All of these dishes were prepared beforehand and served within 5 minutes. That doesn’t take away the fact that the taste was pretty alright.  I especially liked the noodle dish. It was just the right temperature and the stir-fried pork on top really added to the flavor (although there wasn’t a lot of it). The soup wasn’t all that great, it was only lukewarm. I didn’t really enjoy the taste either, but that is probably just personal. Overall I would say that it was pretty good food and I would probably go there a second time when re-visiting Taipei 101.

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Shaved Ice(刨冰)- A Taiwan Favorite

27 Jul

Shaved Ice  刨冰

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locationdes(this district can be found at Dongmen Station, just walk down the shopping district and you’ll stumble upon a place called 刨冰之家(house of shaved ice), which is hidden behind a huge orange dessert restaurant) Good Luck!

Information: Taiwan is king when it comes to desserts. Especially shaved ice is among the most popular desserts and on hot days like today, (boy was it hot) people crowd around shaved ice restaurants like they haven’t eaten for days.  Shaved Ice in itself is nothing special, but add some fruit and condensed milk (or just fruit) and you’ve got yourself a real treat. You can get several versions of shaved ice; there are shops or  street vendors just selling flavored shaved ice or shaved ice with milk and/or fruit juice. My dessert however had some fresh fruit and sweet condensed milk on top. Mango shaved ice is definitely a Taiwan favorite, as Taiwan produces a lot of the yellow fruit (and it is therefore found in any kind of sweets you can think of). This restaurant had many other options as well; there was strawberry, taro (a purple root vegetable with the texture of a sweet potato), green and red beans, candy, jelly; pretty much anything sweet you can think of. Prices vary from 70 NTD – 220 NTD . The size of this dish was huge, and not only at this restaurant, but pretty much any shaved ice place you can think of, so prepare to get stuffed! This is definitely a must-try when going to Taiwan. This place  was hidden behind a much bigger dessert restaurant, so it may be a little hard to find, but just like many other dishes, you will stumble upon many of these restaurants.

 ijsss

Rating: I cannot begin to describe the many flavors and textures of this dessert. I am a huge fan of Taro for one, it’s chewy and incredibly sweet. Combine that with fresh fruit and cold shaved ice for a flavor explosion. But any kind of ingredient (except for candy maybe, that was a little strange) will do. It’s delicious; not only here, but probably wherever you go. ijsjemoeder

Dishes:Beef Noodle Soup (牛肉麵)

25 Jul

Taiwanese Signature Beef Noodle Soup

牛肉麵

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Restaurant: The name of the restaurant is 八方雲集,just like this place, so the name is often of no help. But it can be found in the underground mall here, which is Near Taipei Main Station.

Ingredients: Beef, scallions, cabbage, carrots, noodles. These go into a beef-flavored stock and all of that mixed together makes 牛肉麵 (niu rou mian) (vegetables may vary)

Information / Rating: Beef Noodle Soup is to the Taiwanese what Ramen is to the Japanese,  sort of. Like many dishes, you can find it in plenty of places and it is seen as typically Taiwanese. You often find restaurants only specialized in making different kinds of beef noodle soup or other beef noodle dishes. It often costs around 250 NTD (which is a little more expensive than your average meal). Mine was rather cheap (120 NTD), probably because of the amount of beef. The soup itself had a very strong and almost spicy meat flavor. The beef was really tender and the vegetables pretty much started melting as soon as I touched it. If you look up this dish however, you can tell by the pictures I posted, that mine was lacking the amount of vegetables and meat it should have. You can usually tell by the price whether a dish is going to be great or just so-so. Unfortunately, this was just so-so.  Great flavor, but merely containing 2 small pieces of meat, hardly any vegetables and loads of noodles. Still, if you’ve never had 牛肉麵 and you want to try a cheaper version, this is a place to try.  The underground mall has several restaurants selling beef noodle soup. Also, most places here have some sort of an English menu.

beef noodlz

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