Much like we see with American food, the history and evolution of Taiwanese cuisine has been influenced and transformed by its surroundings.
And understandably so – the island is shaped by a great deal of history, from immigration to colonization, that includes a 50-year stretch of Japanese occupation and an influx of millions of Chinese refugees amidst a political power struggle in 1949. The resulting melting pot has made an incredible impact on the country’s culture and cuisine.
Yet, Taiwan cooking has seen a recent resurgence of chefs and restaurants breaking free of the misnomers of Taiwan food being the same as Chinese or Japanese cooking and are actively showing a new generation of foodies what delicacies feature that traditional Taiwan identity.
From seafood to street food, the sights and sounds of the island are being brought to life across Taiwan’s most delectable dishes. Let’s examine 6 hallmarks of Taiwanese cuisine:
BEEF NOODLE SOUP:
This dish found all over the world and loved by all who slurp it is considered the national dish of Taiwan. With a shop on every corner, each featuring their unique take on the recipe, beef noodle soup is a careful combination of wheat noodles, beef and greens in a hearty stock that derives distinct flavors from the powder variations used. (For a salty, meaty flavor, we recommend our red miso powder!)
Where houses in America can’t do without a microwave, Taiwanese homes save space for their own dedicated hot pot burners to entertain guests with this special dining-as-an-experience feature. Considered a communal food, hot pots simmer seafood, meat, vegetables, tofu and so much more in stock filled with pork bones, jujube or cabbage. Plus, you can dip whatever you pull out into a special savory sauce of your creation. (We’re still big fans of our Chinese sesame brown sauce if you’re looking for inspiration.)
Beautiful islands like Taiwan are no stranger to delicious seafood. That’s why almost any diner in Taiwan serves this saucy staple of the Taiwanese night markets. And while its main ingredients are featured in its namesake, the real powerhouse flavor comes from its very umami sauce. Savory at its finest.
Also known as a green onion pancake, this treat carries on the Taiwanese tradition of savory flavors to deliver a flaky flatbread that mixes scallions with batter and oil to be griddled to seared perfection. It’s yet another well-known street market favorite that can be paired with almost anything to round out a late-night snack.
Looking for an alternative to the traditional burger? Taiwan’s famous steamed bread sandwich takes the braised pork belly that’s included so prominently in their cuisine and pairs it with pickled cabbage, coriander, soy sauce and nuts for a savory treat that gets the job done. (For the best flavor and aroma, consider our roasted Chinese cabbage extract powder or any of our soy sauce extract powders.)
In Taiwan, pineapple cakes are so much more than just delicious, tangy shortbread treats – they’re also a gift. As a nod to the Taiwanese Hokkien workd for pineapple (ong lai) which means “coming luck,” these pastries are given in the hope of spreading wealth, fortune and prosperity. Can your dessert do that?
Taiwan cuisine popularity has introduced so many savory flavors to the modern palate and there are plenty more culinary creations where that came from. Contact Nikken Foods to uncover the perfect ingredients to bring any dish to life.