Taipei’s Little Eats (小吃)
December 14, 2010 Leave a comment
After baking some cinnamon rolls today (first time using yeast!) I am finally in the mood to post the last of my food-related photos from my recent trip to Taipei. Let me tell you that I am missing the food already. Though many of the items here can be consumed in Taiwanese-style restaurants in ethnic enclaves around the country, I still find that it’s just not quite the same. From these simple kitchens and at working class prices, these Taiwanese delights are just delicious.
The dumplings in the teaser image are maturing just underneath this humble wooden cover.
But this is where it all comes together. This lady was churning these dumplings at a lightning-fast pace. Notice that their dumplings are longer than those we have here in the US? Their wrappers are oval shaped!
They serve three different kinds of dumplings. The “Original” is a pork dumpling, the orange-hued one is a Korean-inspired spicy, kimchee dumpling, and the third one is a chive dumpling. (At least, I think it is, I may be wrong because I didn’t order any of those this time.)
All for me. ME.
This is a typical breakfast food, though it’s enjoyed throughout the day as a snack too. It’s something like a segmented breakfast burrito but it only has eggs and green onions. Definitely lighter and crispier as well.
This is salty doujiang (豆漿). It is hot soybean milk with crispy fried dough bits and a portion of salted vegetables and dried pork. My mom tends to prefer this.
I, on the other hand, favor the sweet and chilled alternative. This is the kind that is smooth, subtly creamy, and gently sweet. I could drink this every morning!
This is a closer view of the crispy dough bits I mentioned earlier, without being chunked up. They come in these long strips and are such a guilty pleasure. I would compare them to an ultra-wafery, unsweetened doughnut. I like to dunk them in sugar. It’s bad. But oh so good.
Some of dough being fried. In Mandarin, this is youtiao (油條). Aren’t those chopsticks awesome?! I wonder if they do the same thing at KFCs in Asia. I guess they might not because of franchising, but you really can’t beat the precision of chopsticks!
They’re making some scallion rolls. Scallions are life.
I know this is a sandwich. I know sandwiches are not really Taiwanese and that whole Earl of Sandwich thing, but I love this sandwich. I’ve loved this since I was a little girl. It’s very simple. White bread, a cucumber salad, a fried egg, and a thin slice of ham. The cucumber salad is tossed with salt and sesame oil. Everything in the sandwich gets a final sprinkle of black pepper. The combination is comforting and refreshing, balanced and tasty. It’s perfect. (Not to mention way healthier than that Turkey Ranch and Swiss monstrosity I order at Quizno’s…)
Renowned throughout Taiwan, these are wontons stuffed with vegetables and a little pork. They are gigantic (imagine like, a deck of cards but not flat…). They are served with this hearty clear broth, strips of egg, seaweed, and green onions. A harmonious triumph.
I usually eat those vegetable wontons with some feisty seaweed knots. These can be unexpectedly spicy.
My mom and I also order some bean curd noodles with carrots and celery tossed in some salt, sesame oil, and some secret ingredients that make this simple dish unforgettably delectable.
This is called rouzao fan (肉燥飯), a Taiwanese rendition of the classic meat + carbs combination. This is probably one of the few instances in which I eat fatty meat. The amount of flavor and spice in the meat sauce can make the sauce to rice ratio tricky, but it is always delicious.
And for dessert, we have what is called douhua (豆花) a light dessert of tofu, tapioca, and tangyuan (湯圓). It all swims in a sweet, clear syrup. The texture of this dessert is very unique to Asian cuisine, I think it’s difficult to learn to like that bouncy consistency of tapioca. I had two bowls over the course of my trip because I am a reformed boba drinker. I need to save my calories for cupcakes and cookies. 🙂
Thanks, Taiwan. I love you.