Snacking is deeply woven into the fabric of daily life in Taiwan. The plethora of snack foods available on the island opens a window on local culture. In fact, one of the quickest ways to experience the local flavor of Taiwan is to visit one of the island's many night markets, each with a tempting array of mouth-watering delicacies. At each market, visitors can sample a wide selection of snack foods made with locally sourced ingredients. Since Taiwan is an island surrounded by the sea, seafood is a major ingredient in night market foods, from oyster omelets and stir-fried cuttlefish to seafood congee, squid stew, and milkfish soup, all of it addictively fresh and tasty.
Veggie and Meat Wrap:
These delicacies are packed with goodies, including boiled cabbage, bean sprouts, sliced fried eggs, barbecued pork, peanut powder and powdered sugar, all wrapped up in a thin spring roll skin and served warm. This delicious treat is one of the most popular snacks at night markets throughout Taiwan.
No night market worth the name is without this unassuming little treat. The quality of this dish is judged by the freshness of the oysters and the chewiness of the noodles. The dish is made with a type of red vermicelli noodle that does not crumble easily. The noodles are served in a soup stock with fresh oysters and soy-stewed large intestines, and flavored with black vinegar, a special sauce, and a garnish of cilantro.
Steamed sandwiches ("guabao") were originally eaten during employee dinner parties held on the 16th day of the 12th lunar month, but today they can be enjoyed at night markets throughout the year. The sandwiches resemble a kind of hamburger made with a soft white bun. The bun is stuffed with melt-in-your-mouth pork and garnished with pickled vegetables, peanut powder and cilantro, creating a nose-pleasing and tasty combination.
Crushed Ice Dessert:
This popular dessert has a base of crushed ice flavored with mung beans, adzuki beans, starch balls, taro, jelly, and other toppings, which are sprinkled with sugar water, offering sweet and cool relief on a hot summer day. Today, you can also find creative new variations with toppings of mangoes, strawberries and other seasonal fruit.
The origins of scallion pancakes date back to Taiwan's agrarian period, when scallions were widely available in the countryside and the pancakes were a popular between-meal snack for farmers in the fields. Today the best-known version of this snack is made with scallions from Sanxing Township. Sanxing's slightly acidic soil, lack of factory pollution, and large diurnal temperature range provide excellent growing conditions for scallions. The rocky earth below the topsoil also facilitates water drainage to keep the soil at the right moistness for scallions to thrive. Sanxing scallions are famous for their high quality, thick leaves, long white stalks, and low fiber, and the pancakes made with Sanxing scallions have an unmistakable fresh and sweet onion taste, without pungency, and a distinctive flour taste.