A lot of great food in Taiwan is pretty inexpensive. Therefore, I propose a Pokemon approach, try to catch ’em all. Here is a scavenger hunt list, download a simplified version in hard copy here.
1. Fresh soymilk with fried crullers
I am most nostalgic about breakfast food in Taiwan. On the few trips there when I was a kid, I remember waking up to find my mama already returning from a morning stroll to get Taiwanese breakfast for us, featuring crunchy-flaky fried crullers and fresh warm soymilk, maybe with green onion pancakes.
A hot place to get fresh soy milk in Taipei is: FuHang Dou Jiang (阜杭豆漿). Expect a long long line, but it’ll be even tastier for having waited. I showed up early and was in line from street-level, up a flight of stairs, and into the food court where they were taking orders.
2. Green onion pancakes
Happiness can be so affordable! When I went, a very good green onion pancake at 北方油餅 (Beifang Green Onion Pancake) was 50NT, about $1.66 USD. I got up early on a Sunday morning to catch one of the first ones and skip the line, and I put on my dorky foreign tourist hat to take a video so you could experience in full color video, the making of a 北方油餅 (Beifang Green Onion Pancake) -with egg! Video is at the bottom of this post so as not to disrupt the flow of your reading.
What’s more Chinese than wheat-filled porky pot stickers?
Being a good host who makes all your guests feel welcome, that’s what.
In 1980s Minnesota, growing up a first generation American-born child of Chinese immigrants, Asian produce and processed goods were not readily available at the grocery stores on University Ave in Saint Paul. For special occasions, my parents would host parties and invite all our family friends over to help fold dumplings. They’d mix the pork filling and procure wrappers and get everyone –ethnic Chinese or not– involved in trying their hand at wrapping the dumplings. I still remember one time our friend Javed found the filling so fragrant (it’s the toasted sesame oil in the pork) he asked if he could eat it raw. Was it that he grew up partly in Germany? Not sure, but sesame oil sure does make things smell good. Then my Mama would boil and/or fry round after round to fuel yet more dumpling wrapping. Some times my Baba
would buy wrappers, other times I remember him mixing the flour and water and letting is rise, then rolling it out (by hand or by pasta roller), to be cut by the rim of an aluminum green bean can.
In light of this childhood memory, I was excited when K conceded to hosting a few friends over for a pot sticker* party for lunar new year with only a week’s notice.
New challenge: make gluten-free wrappers for my friend Jillian
, so she could join in the fun!