There is a lot in Taiwanese cuisines which has been borrowed from the Hakka people, a Chinese subgroup which traces its ancestral origin from Southern China Region. Presently, there are approximately 5 million Hakkas in Taiwan. Their soups are characteristic of thick heavy soups with ingredients such as mung beans, sesame seeds, mint leaves mixed with peanuts. The following are Taiwan Chinese food that you must try.
Beef Noodle Soup
While braised beef with slurpable noodles may appear to be a basic meal, it is difficult to understand the fact that there is a culture that lay claim to the dish. Nevertheless, it is the national Taiwan Chinese food. The origin of the dish is Chinese, but the Taiwanese adopted and modified its flavors with cloves, Sichuan pepper, five spice powder of star anise, mustard greens, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper.
Worth noting is the fact that the Taipei International Beef Noodle festival is held each year in Taiwan, and the main dish for the event is wheat noodles infused with beef tendons, beef shanks and a properly simmered stock with some vegetables.
Hot Pot Meal
Hot pot meal is the go-to communal meal for any season, particularly for the cold season. The dish is so ingrained in Taiwanese to a point that almost all kitchens have the special hot-pot cooking equipment specially for preparing this single dish. Additionally, there are over 5000 hot pot restaurants that prepare a variety of hot pot meals ranging from the commonly known Sichuan, to the stinky tofu, and shabu shabu.
The dish essentially consists of a pot of simmering soup, with people gathered around, each dipping his/her vegetable such as mushroom or leafy vegetables and sliced meat or chicken. The modern hot pots are divided into two, with one side having a hot soup that has chili, while the other one is a regular, which makes it perfect for the whole family.
Sticky Rice Dumpling
Sticky Rice Dumpling or Zong Zi refers to Taiwan Chinese food in which sticky rice is wrapped with any leaf. There are different variations of the same in different parts of Asia. The one prepared in Taiwan usually has several other fillings such as peanuts, dried shrimp, pork chops, or at times even fried egg omelets to balance the sticky chew of the rice.
Taiwanese Hamburger or Gua Bao
The rate at which Eddie Huang, the American Based Taiwanese sensational Chef has gained a massive following from the pork belly buns he serves in New York is cult like. However, to them who know, it does not come as a surprise. That is because, the secrets for preparing of the Taiwanese Hamburger has been carried on from the ancient times.
The hamburger is a specialty from Northern region of Taiwan where steamed buns are stuffed with braised fatty pork belly prepared with soy sauce, Chinese five spice powder and rice wine. Toppings of crushed peanuts, greens, pickled mustards and greens are also included in the buns.
Braised Pork Rice
Braised pork rice is one of the comfort Taiwan Chinese foods. The dish is simple and relatively easy to prepare, as it is with other comfort foods found in other cuisines. Basically, the dish consists of pork belly which has been braised with soy sauce and rice wine served with steamed white rice. Often, it is served as a complete meal. However, some people use it as a base dish and finish the plate with several other sides.
Taiwanese Fried Chicken
Taiwanese chicken is a commonplace in most fast food chains and night markets at most parts of the country. Unlike the conventional fried chicken, the one made in Taiwanese is deep fried twice, which makes the chicken covers to be crusty with a delicate texture and feel. Before deep frying, it is tossed in a mixture of ingredients consisting primarily of basil leaves, salt, pepper and the infamous five-spice powder. In the fast food restaurant, this Taiwan Chinese food is ether served in popcorn style, bite sized or piecewice.
Three Cup Chicken
Three cup chicken gets its name from the three key ingredients that constitute the sauce used in braising the chicken. It is prepared with three equal parts of soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine. While the dish is served in both Chinese and Taiwan, the one prepared in Taiwanese cuisine is often sweeter. A unique thing about this Taiwanese Chinese food is the way it is served- while still simmering in an earthenware pot.
Oyster Vermicelli Noodles
The oyster vermicelli noodles is served with a soup which has been thickened with cornstarch powder to an extent where it gets a slimy and smooth texture, with bite sized oyster and tiny chewy bites of pig intestines. A combination of cilantro and vinegar are used for garnishing. It is rather rare delicacy and it can be agreeable that few people approve of its goodness.
The century egg is a special kind of egg and you can already tell something from the name; it is an egg dish prepared for eggs which were store a century ago! Take a minute to digest that before we proceed.
Ideally, that is the expectation whenever the century egg is mentioned. However, for Taiwan Chinese food case, eggs are stored anywhere from several weeks to months after they are salted and a combination of ash and lime mixed in it. The end result is an egg that is greyish, and more of hard-boiled eggs when you bite. If it has been properly done, the egg has a characteristic creaminess, the kind you expect to get from really good cheese. Additionally, it leaves a rather sweet aftertaste. It is best taken in breakfast when served with congee. Alternatively, it is taken with fresh tofu.
Soup dumplings or Xiao Long Bao has become the international signature dish when it comes to soup dumplings. The original batches of the soup recipes originated form central Taipei and were made from Shanghainese steamed pork dumplings. Most people fond of this dish have an intriguing game in which straight from the pot dumplings are taken while they are scalding hot and the participants of the game get to contort their face in all manner of weird faces. Well, that is how some people like their Xiao Long Bao.
The foods mentioned above are just but a few Taiwan Chinese foods. The Taiwanese cuisine is rich in variety, and it may be impossible to exhaust all their dishes, unless of course you are interested in compiling a Taiwanese food encyclopedia, to which I can say, good luck!