Food is an essential part of the Taipei experience. A visit to Taiwan is incomplete without tasting their local cuisine. There are tofus, dumplings, beef noodle soups and a variety of vegetable salads to lay one’s hands on.
A legacy of the country’s origins, their cuisine is a wonderful combination of regional foods from across mainland China and at its vibrant night markets, one can eat a variety of of foods grilled on skewers or served in a noodle broth. Lay your hands on grilled squid, pan fried buns and fried fish cakes without fail.
Interestingly, what I saw during my recent trip to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as part of a study tour for future leaders between 20 and 29 September organised by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was that the eateries throw a wide variety of options and are affordable too. When I landed in Taiwan, I was afraid of what I would be eating.
There was fear that is a no-man’s land for vegetarians. But my perception changed on Day 1 when I tasted tofu and noodle soup served with fresh vegetables. Of course, a cup of black tea is a must at your lunch and dinner table
NOTHING ‘FISHY’ ABOUT IT
Any meal is incomplete without freshly caught fish being served at your table. They are steam cooked served in a decorative way. At Cidal Hunter School, a huge fish caught fresh was cooked in front of us and served on a big leaf. It looked irresistible. They just add salt and sauce to it and serve it straight after steam cooking. The sticky rice, green soup, fried pork and native sweet potatoes, radishes were a delight to taste.
Taiwanese beef noodle soup has gained international fame in recent years, and tourists from across the globe have rated the soups sold here as the best. Be it a beef noodle soup or lamb soup, the taste lingers in your tongue long after you finish it.
Add them to your bowl of noodles or rice, they taste the best.
TANTALISING ‘STINKY’ TOFU
I am a huge fan of Taiwanese stinky tofu, and it is my absolute go-tonight snack in Taiwan. Stinky tofu is a kind of fermented tofu, which has a highly unpleasant, pungent smell, especially when it is deep fried.
This dish is mostly eaten as a quick snack. It’s a popular street food, typically cooked on the side of the road in small stalls, and it’s not commonly sold in restaurants. It is available in almost all night markets across Taipei city.
Steamed dumplings filled with pork or shrimp dipped in vinegar soy sauce is the sought-after food in Taiwan. The broth is in gelatin form and when the dumplings are steamed, it becomes juicy and hot, pouring flavour into your mouth when you bite. Poke a hole in the soup dumpling, drain the broth into your spoon, sip the broth, and then eat the dumpling.
These are not something preserved for centuries. They are made out of chicken, pigeon, or quail eggs. It is a common street food that sometimes makes its way into local eateries. In the Taiwanese culture, iron eggs are eggs cooked and re-cooked many times. Some are cooked in soy sauce, others in tea. The pigeon / quail eggs came in batches of seven or thirty-five in one package.
Most bubble tea recipes contain a tea base mixed / shaken with fruit or milk, to which chewy tapioca balls and fruit jelly are often added. Ice-blended versions are usually mixed with fruit or syrup, resulting in a slushy consistency. There are many varieties of the drink with a wide range of ingredients. The two most popular varieties are bubble milk tea with tapioca and bubble milk green tea with tapioca.