One of the street food Heavens of the world is Taiwan. Wherever you go in the country, you can find bustling night markets, and in these night markets you will discover a range of weird and wonderful snacks from Taiwanese cuisine. While some of the most popular snacks in Taiwan are not actually of Taiwanese origin (i.e. fried milk or flame-grilled beef cubes), the 12 items I have listed below are Pure Taiwan! How many have you tried?
The disturbingly named “Coffin Toast” or Guancai Ban (棺材板) is so-called due to its shape resembling that of a coffin and the fact the contents inside the toast can only be consumed after ‘lifting up the lid’. The filling of Guancai Ban is often prawn or shrimp, but any meat and layers of creamy cheese will do just fine for the Taiwanese! Make your own Coffin Bread at home!
Pig’s Blood Rice Cake (豬血米糕) is a somewhat innovative pudding found in night markets all over Taipei. It’s basically sticky rice mixed with pig’s blood (why not?) and then melted on to a stick, so you can eat it like satay or yakitori. Some of these cakes can also be coated in sweet and sugary substances to add further taste!
Hujiao Bing (胡椒餅) is a baked bun that originated from the Fuzhou region of China but has become quite popular in Taiwan and can be food in night markets around the country, especially Raohe Night Market in Taipei from a vendor known as Fu Zhou Shi Zu Hujiao Bing (福州世祖胡椒饼). Commonly referred to as a Taiwanese Pepper Bun, the ingredients include meat (usually pork or beef) that has been marinated with sugar, soy sauce, and pepper, plus scallion for the inside filling. Make your own Hujiao Bing at home!
One of my favourite street food snacks anywhere in the world, Taiwanese Sausage (大腸包小腸) is often referred to as a “little sausage inside a big sausage”, and can be served with sticky rice, either as a side, or just thrown into the mix completely! Resembling a western hotdog, the Taiwanese sausage can of course be eaten on its own, but the real fun lies in stuffing sausage skin (with the meat cut out, right?) with the sticky rice, to make a kind of ‘rice sausage’. Then carve it open and put the next sausage inside! Make your own Taiwanese Sausages at home!
Herbal Pork Bone Soup is a popular delicacy from Taipei, and provides customers with a refreshing soup with supposed medicinal benefits at a very cheap price. As street food, the soup is usually served in small paper cups and is piping hot – so don’t burn your lips! Make your own pork bone soup at home!
The vomit-inducing Iron Egg (鐵蛋) is arguably my least-liked Taiwanese delicacy. They are disgusting! However, the dark and very chewy textures of the eggs due to recooking give them a unique taste (it’s like chewing plastercine)! The cooking style was stumbled upon by accident by a street vendor whose eggs were not selling very fast. Rather than throw them away, she decided to recook them. The result was that the eggs became way too hard, yet to her astonishment, customers liked these eggs better than the originals! I wish she had thrown them away in the first place! Make your own Iron Eggs at home!
Made of sweet potato starch and rice flour, Ba Wan (肉圓) is a kind of oversized dumpling, that is often filled with egg or meat (especially pork) and then coated in thin gravy. The resulting juiciness is one of the Taiwan’s most popular dishes! Make your own Ba Wan at home!
Oyster Omelette (蚵仔煎) showcases both seafood and dairy, and the result is a very sweet and savoury experience. Sweet potato starch is often added to make the dish even more chewy, for chewiness is one of the trademarks of Taiwanese cuisine! Make your own Oyster Omelette at home!
Cock Cake, as it is affectionately known, is a sweet delicacy from the night markets of Taipei. The craze for these penis-shaped waffles began a few years ago and they are a popular snack for tourists, who also like to pose for a photo. There is usually a pork sausage inside the waffle, and common flavours include chocolate, mint, and strawberry cream!
Stinky Tofu (臭豆腐) is one of the main dishes in Taiwan, though usually served as street food or as a side dish in bars, rather than as a meal in restaurants. As the name suggests, the fermented tofu has a very odorous reputation! Make your own Stinky Tofu at home!
Gua Bao (割包) is a kind of burger bun, but done Taiwan-style! Actually more of a steamed bun, it can be filled with meats (pork or beef, usually), tofu, and pickled cabbage. The trick with Gua Bao, however, is that the filling inside is usually mixed together so you can taste everything in every bite! Make your own Gua Bao at home!
First created in Taichung in the 1980s, Bubble Tea (珍珠奶茶) is a tea-based drink that has since made its way all over the world. However, no trip to Taiwan would be complete without trying some of the authentic stuff here, which is known locally as “Boba”! With the main ingredients being tapioca pearls and condensed milk, you can nevertheless add sweeteners to create virtually any flavour imaginable! Make your own Bubble Tea at home!
It is very true that Taiwan, along with South Korea, is a paradise for street snacks in Asia, so I hope you have now learned a bit about the Taiwanese street food scene. Anything here that takes your fancy?