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Tasty Snacks of Taiwan
The tasty snacks of Taiwan is one of the most important things you can do on any Taiwan adventure. There are so many, that for sure you can eat your way around the island. Taiwanese snacks are usually simple and easy to do. Their use of spices make the flavor extremely appetizing. In Taiwan, the philosophy is “to eat small and to eat often.” You will find these small eats on street coroners and in the open markets. In Taipei, you will find more than 20 streets dedicated to these small tasty snacks.
Deep Fried Squid On A Stick
Such is the case with these deep-fried squid. Deep fried squid on a stick are amazingly delicious. They are so crunchy and good. Usually the smaller squid are used for this snack, often referred to as Calamari. The squid is washed , patted dry with a paper towel, and cut in rings. Then take one egg white and beat it. Add the Calamari and coat all the squid evenly. Next take a couple of cups of sweet potato flour(add sea salt, pepper, and chili powder if desired.) Dip each of the squid in the sweet potato flour. Drop in a pan of hot oil. As they come out hot, you can insert a stick if desired, or simply serve on a plate with a dipping sauce.
One of my favorite dipping sauces from Taiwan is so simple to make. Take lots of garlic, ginger, and chili peppers (cut very small) and lightly fry in a small amount of fresh peanut oil. Add balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to taste after the garlic, ginger, and chili peppers are done.
Such a simple snack to make and so delicious.
Fresh Off The Grill
Smoky Grilled Cuttlefish
The aroma of the fresh cuttlefish grilling floats through the night markets of Taiwan. It is irresistible, drawing you in to the source. Such is the smell of fresh cuttlefish on the open grills. Tantalizing your senses while you search for the source of this smokey aroma. This snack is mouth-watering, tasty, and delicious.
One of the many places for getting grilled cuttlefish is Cijin Island. Cijin is just across the bay from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. You will find this tiny island extremely colorful and bustling with activity. Everyone does seem to be on a mission. There are many different snacks being sold. Everywhere you look there is food. Tasty snacks are being sold in the markets and on the street. The highlight of Cijin Island is the fish. There is every type of fish imaginable.
As you wander the side streets, the aroma of the fresh cuttlefish is unmistakable. It fills the air until you make your way to the correct street coroner. Anything with cuttlefish is amazing. Taiwan gets a lot of fresh fish and cuttlefish is a major catch. With grill stations everywhere on this island, cuttlefish can be found in every market. This is especially true of the south. A smoky aroma and cuttlefish with dark grill marks are everywhere.
During winter, the markets have a thick cuttlefish soup. The Taiwanese cook this soup with many herbs. The soup is delicious and has many of the local vegetables. One of the many blessings of this small island is the abundance of vegetables. Everything seems to grow in Taiwan. When it is cold in Taiwan, you will see this soup side by side with the grilled cuttlefish. What a delight on a cold and windy day.
You Love It Or You Hate It
Taiwan’s Famous Stinky Tofu
The rule in Taiwan for stinky tofu…..the smellier the better! Stinky Tofu is found throughout the streets of China, but in Taiwan, it is everywhere. This is one of the most popular fermented snacks on the island. It assaults your sense of smell, but is so pleasing to the stomach. Stinky tofu is either hated or loved. There is no in-between!
This very odorous snack is a national obsession in Taiwan! Stinky tofu is prepared by soaking freshly made tofu in a brine made of fermented milk, fermented meat or fermented vegetables. It is not uncommon for a family to have a secret recipe that has been handed down from generation to generation. Recipes are usually kept very close to the heart. They are rarely divulged. Making the best stinky tofu can be a Taiwanese obsession. Just when you are sure you have found the best, you will taste another that surpasses the last. If you love Stinky Tofu, you will never get enough!
Snacks At The Lantern Festival
In Taiwan tomatoes are at all the markets on sticks. They are served as a sweet or light dessert. Tomatoes are often poached in sugar. You will often see them on the top of cakes. At festivals and street markets these delicious sweet cherry tomatoes are on skewers. You will see slices of plum and tomato that have been dipped in a toffee. Tomatoes and strawberries are often side by side at the market. These candied tomatoes are one of many of the sumptuous snacks in Taiwan.
Surprisingly, as it may seem, there is a large variety of sausages on this little island. You can find them on sticks and with ropes of bread wound around them. You will see them in a bun and on fried bread. There are many types of fried breads and pancakes. Fried bread is one of many island specialties. If you like seafood, there is seafood tempura and shrimp tempura. There are many different types of fish. They are fried and sold on a stick. There is also something called stewed offal that seemed to be extremely popular. Another favorite of the locals is called “coffin bread.” There are always way too many snacks to try them all. These last two always seemed to have really long lines.
Coffin bread is perhaps the most fun. Though the name is a little strange, it is a unique and treat. It’s actually nothing more than a slice of thick toast with a delicious stuffing of mushrooms,vegetables or minced chicken. A square is cut from the middle of this crunchy toast. It is then lifted off as a lid to the coffin. This lid then sits on the top of the sumptuous filling. What a fun and totally unique little eat.
Another little eat is the Bitter Melon. It is a special variety and is almost white in color, rather than the green of most varieties. Neither is it as bitter as the green variety. Be sure and stop by and get a tall mug of honey and bitter melon juice. This is an amazing thirst quencher on a hot day. Mixed with the honey, it is even tastier than the plain bitter melon.
If you are looking for an exotic treat, check out the piles of ripe custard apples. These freshly picked fruits are in almost every market when in season. If you have never eaten a fresh one, then treat yourself. The ones that we get in countries where they are not grown are shipped green. They do not taste anything like a vine ripened custard apple. Custard apples do not travel well, so they can only be shipped when green. These little treats do not come cheap, but are worth every penny.
One of the kings of the little eats are meatballs on a stick. These little meatballs are filled with many seasonings and are a delight to the taste buds. These slightly chewy Glutinous Taiwanese Meatballs when prepared by a skilled Taiwanese cook, are delicious. Nothing compares to these chewy little eats on a stick. Taste and see for yourself, just how delightful they can be.
Our final Taiwan classic is the Oyster Omelette. This classic dish begins with a batter made from sweet potato starch. This is placed at the bottom of the pan and a beaten egg is cracked over the top. Then over all this are oysters and vegetables of many kinds. A thick pink starchy sauce is poured over the top and it is then baked. This is one of the favorite of all the little eats. The lines are always long for these delicious Taiwanese treats.
The Country Of “Little Eats”
One of Taiwan’s most interesting treasures is her “little eats.” The Taiwanese rarely eat 3 large meals in a day. Instead they eat several very small meals. These little snacks are referred to as “little eats.” You can go almost anywhere on the island or to any festival and you will see these small flavorful snacks for sale. At any market you will find hundreds of these unique Taiwanese snacks. What a unique heritage! How can you resist such delicious little snacks? They are at the markets, on the street corners, and at the festivals. They are everywhere you go. Rarely can people just pass them by. The smells are tantalizing! This is a land of “little eats.”
Are you ready to go? Are you hungry for a food adventure around The Island of Taiwan? Anytime is a good time to make your way around this exciting island. So pack your backpack and get ready for the adventure of a life time. An adventure of “little eats” is waiting!
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