Friday, February 07, 2014

a bit of Taiwanese food

While most of things we eat in Taiwan are essentially Chinese food, and you can find great examples of regional Chinese dishes all over, there are things we eat here that are particular to this island.  Couple of examples here, one is 米苔目, it is a kind of chewy, stubby rice noodle served in broth, often with chives and a bit of caramelized shallots in oil (this is called 油蔥 - oily onion, a common condiment in Taiwanese cooking).  This noodle soup is typically eaten with a couple of side dishes such as braised tofu, pig intestine, lightly pickled cucumbers etc.   The noodle at this place near 林森北路 in Taipei (sort of the red light district) was especially good, and the shop is open and busy late into the night.  The food tasted pretty damn good even though I was sober, it would be even better if I was not.

Another, probably more famous, example of Taiwanese dish (besides the stinky tofu) is the oyster / pig intestine noodle (蚵仔 / 大腸 麵線).  This is a very thin rice noodle (usually brown in color, I don't know why) in a thick soup.  The soup is often flavored with dried fish (sort of like a dashi) and thickened with corn or sweet potato starch.  Some places add chunks of pig intestine, some add oysters, and some have both.   This place we stopped by in 竹山, a rural town in central-south west Taiwan, let you choose to have one or the other, or for a little extra cost, both (the shop is right across the street from the police station if you are ever passing through there and want to try this place).  The oysters were very small but has a lot of flavor and has the right texture for the soup in my opinion.  They added a dab of satay sauce on top that was a bit unusual (apology for the blurred cell phone photo, I was a bit excited to dive in).   

Taiwanese foods are typically humble dishes that can be found in small shops and road side stands, but these are time tested dishes that utilized the local bounties to great effects.

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