My favorite Taiwan night market food

大腸包小腸 Little sausage in a big sausage

I feel like this is so over-the-top you’d think it was American. You take a grilled rice sausage, split it down the middle, and wedge a sweet Taiwanese pork sausage in the gap. Top it with some pickled vegetables, maybe some hot sauce or curry powder for an incredible flavor punch. You can’t make a habit of eating these very often if you don’t want to spend a lot of money buying bigger jeans.

潤餅 Spring rolls

These are “Chinese burritos” filled with cabbage, sprouts, a little char siu pork, and pickled vegetables. The wrap is a thin, spongy pancake that really feels like a crepe. As far as Taiwanese street food goes, I consider this a healthier option because there are way more vegetables than meat and the meat is pretty lean.

花生卷冰淇淋 Spring roll ice cream

This is kind of magnificent. Very special. You take a soft crepe, put a couple scoops of ice cream (taro ice cream, anyone?) on top, grate some Chinese peanut brittle over it, and then sprinkle some cilantro over the whole mess. Wrap it up and eat it like a burrito. It’s incredibly refreshing on a hot day, not at all messy, and the flavor combination is wild!

臭豆腐 Deep-fried stinky tofu

Stinky tofu literally smells like rotten baby diapers. Because of the stench, it was years before I tried it. But once I did, I loved the taste–the same way I love a stinky blue cheese or red wines that smell like cat piss. It’s not for everybody, but I think stinky tofu with some Taiwanese pickled cabbage is phenomenal. It’s a umami tsunami cut with sweet and sour. It’s crispy-on-the-outside-soft-on-the-inside with a funky crunch from the relish.  I promise it’s like nothing you’ve ever tasted before.

 

蚵仔煎 Oyster omelets

These are doughy and sticky, filled with fat oysters and covered in a sweet pink sauce. Somebody told me once that oyster omelets were originally “poor-people food”: something starchy holding together what little protein and vegetables you had around the house. It looks like a mess, but I think it tastes amazing. If you’re lucky, you can get a super fresh oyster omelet at a restaurant or stall near a harbor.

 

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