Located in the heart of Asia, Taiwan is a food country that celebrates the diversity of cuisines and snacks. Locals care about food so much that it has been ingrained in daily conversation. For example, instead of saying “how are you,” Taiwanese greet each other with phrases like “have you eaten?” To be frank, boba tea and the famous chain restaurant Ding Tai Fung are only the tip of the iceberg of Taiwanese food. Therefore, this article will provide the thorough guide to four signature Taiwanese cuisines and dessert, as well as the cultures behind these dishes.
Let’s have Hot Pot with loved ones
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Hot pot is one of the most iconic dishes in Taiwan because it symbolizes roundness, reunion and intimacy. It is a meal to eat with loved ones so that they have fun cooking together and talking while waiting for the food to be ready. The soup is usually meat stock, and people can toss in any uncooked ingredients like vegetables, tomatoes, thin-sliced beef and fish. One of the most popular soups among locals is mala, which is a spicy base with chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. To be honest, every season is hotpot season in Taipei since famous hotpot restaurants still remain crowded during the humid hot summer.
Dumplings symbolize luck and wealth
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Taiwanese dumplings share a similar concept with Gnocchi and Ravioli, which is dough wrapping ingredients such as meat, herb and vegetables. However, instead of cooking with sauce, dumplings are usually boiled and then dipped in soy sauce and vinegar while eating them. Because the shape of dumplings is similar to Chinese gold nuggets, they are often served during Lunar New Year to symbolize wealth and luck in the upcoming year.
Never judge the century egg by its look
Century eggs are chicken, duck or quail eggs that are fermented for a few weeks or months. Most people are intimidated by its black, transparent egg white and dark green egg yolk; however, those colors represent the egg’s diverse, intense and unexpected flavors. Locals normally eat century eggs with tofu and drizzle with soy sauce and scallions as a refreshing appetizer. Traditionally, century egg congee is a miracle cure for colds because it is an excellent source of iron, selenium and vitamin D.
Don’t leave Taiwan without trying pineapple cakes
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As a tropical country, Taiwan is renowned for its diverse fruits, including mango, dragon fruit, lychee and pineapple. In Chinese, the pronunciation of pineapple is “ong lai,” which means “prosperity arrives.” This small box-shaped pineapple is packed with natural sweetness and sourness and joined together with a crumbly, buttery pastry. Some of the local favorite pineapple cake shops are Sunny Hills and Chia Te.