5 Unusual Taiwanese Night Market Snacks

Carrie Kellenberger 25 January 2010 11 comments

Hong Kong is known for its dim sum and Cantonese cuisines. In Tokyo, fresh sashimi, noodles and robatayaki are popular street treats. Singapore has one of the most exuberant food cultures in the world. And now Taiwan is starting to show the world that Taiwanese cuisine is a serious contender for a starring role as one of the Asian hotspots for food connoisseurs taking it to the street.

Many of Taiwan’s night market dishes are more than just your average snack, though. Here are five of our favorite unusual night market snacks in Taiwan.

Taiwanese Fatty Pork Sausages1. Taiwanese Fatty Pork Sausages

Formed from chunks of pork fat and chopped pork, Taiwanese fatty pork sausages are an unusually sticky sweet treat. Globs of glistening pork fat make these sausages especially moist and flavorful. Sausages are generally grilled and served on a stick. They can be glazed with many different varieties of condiments.

Oyster Stand

2. Oyster Omelets

You can’t go to a night market without sampling this popular seafood snack. Make sure you look for a cart with fresh oyseters, though. They make for the tastiest omelets.  Made with eggs, oysters, cilantro, Garland chrysanthemum leaves, and tapioca starch, each omelet is fried and eaten with a sweet and spicy sauce.

Grilled Squid-2

3. Grilled Squid

Being an island in the Pacific Ocean means that much of the local food in Taiwan is seafood. You’ll see dried squid hanging everywhere. Our favorite squid recipe is marinated grilled squid on a stick.

Stinky Tofu-2

4. Stinky tofu

You can’t say you’ve been to Taiwan without trying this world famous dish. Stinky Tofu is a main staple in every night market throughout Taiwan. You’ll know when you’ve found a stinky tofu vendor.The smell of it is enough to make your senses go on overload. We guarantee that if you can get past the terrible smell, you’ll discover why everyone raves about this fermented treat. Cubes of fermented tofu are deep-fried or grilled and served with pickled vegetables or a spicy Mala sauce made from duck blood. A combination of soy paste, garlic, and spices can be added to enhance the flavor.

Pig's Blood Cake-3

5. Pig’s Blood Cake

Most visitors to Taiwan have to work up the nerve to try this hot, spicy snack. Pig’s blood cake is combined with sticky rice and hot pig’s blood. It is formed into a flat cake that is cut into rectangular pieces and skewered. It usually comes garnished with soy sauce, hot sauce, powdered peanut and cilantro.

For more information on Taiwan’s night markets, please click on a photo to go to the author’s web site.

Carrie Kellenberger

Carrie Kellenberger

Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Carrie has kept a home base with her husband in Asia since 2003. A nomad at heart, Carrie's deep love for travel, photography, and culture have led her on frequent travels over the past seven years. She has traveled throughout Asia finding work as a writer, editor, educator, voice over artist, photographer, and nightclub singer. In her free time, Carrie works as a freelance travel writer and photographer, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. She writes about her personal travel adventures at www.myseveralworlds.com. Follow Carrie on Google+ at https://plus.google.com/106703927738684161043/ or on Twitter @globetrotteri.

11 Comments For This Post

  1. Monsicha Hoonsuwan Monsicha Hoonsuwan Says:

    Oh Carrie, I’m glad you saved Pig’s Blood Cake for last ’cause I might not have read it to the end if it were the first entry. I know pig’s blood—have eaten it before. But cake and pig’s blood doesn’t seem to mix. I wonder who invented this dish.

    But the stinky tofu is worth a try. Though I favor good-smelling food, stinky tofu seems to be an adventure I should partake.

  2. Carrie Kellenberger Carrie Kellenberger Says:

    Hi Monsicha,

    I kept the strangest for last for exactly this reason. Pig’s Blood Cake does throw quite a few visitors off the food trail in Taiwan. I can’t quite get past the whole concept of eating pig’s blood, nor do I understand the fascination with oyster omelets, but the other three snacks on this list are quite tasty. Stinky Tofu is my favorite Taiwanese snack. I like it grilled and glazed with a spicy marinade. My husband swears that Taiwanese pork sausages are the best snack after an evening out on the town. :)

  3. Monsicha Hoonsuwan Monsicha Hoonsuwan Says:

    So I take it you probably don’t fancy oyster omelets much. Do you know why they eat fermented tofu instead of just, you know, regular tofu? Does fermented tofu has some beneficial nutrients non-fermented tofu doesn’t? I would try it nonetheless. Just a little curious. I love your blog though. Will definitely keep reading!

  4. Carrie Kellenberger Carrie Kellenberger Says:

    No, I’m not a fan of oyster omelets at all. Taking photos for this article was a challenge. These were all taken at the local night market near my home in Banciao. I’m a frequent wanderer in this area, so when the vendors saw my camera, they insisted on giving me free samples. It was hard to feign pleasure over being offered an oyster omelet.

    There are many different kinds of tofu dishes here, using both silken tofu and firm tofu. I don’t think there is any difference in nutritional value.

    I don’t know why people eat fermented tofu, but I think we could ask the same question about why people eat varieties of smelly cheese such as blue cheese. It’s simply part of the local culture. (For the record, I love blue cheese, too.) I’m glad to hear you are going to try it. Most of my friends won’t go near it!

  5. Monsicha Hoonsuwan Monsicha Hoonsuwan Says:

    You know, I always wonder why people eat the way they do. For instance, we’ve heard of a lot of strange food in China. The Chinese say things they eat have special nutritional value, which is, of course, can be argued. Or you can ask the Thais who eat fried ant’s eggs the same question, and they would tell you that these eggs got some good nutrients. I have no idea if it’s true. Never wanna try it. (Partly because I’m vegetarian.)

    My point is: Maybe they just eat it because it tastes good.

    I’m pretty open-minded when it comes to food. As long as it isn’t made of animals, I can try it all. Sadly for the fatty sausage, the squid (which used to be my favorite) and the oyster, I can’t try them. Sigh.

  6. Craig Ferguson Craig Ferguson Says:

    Oyster omelets, grilled squid and stinky tofu are my favorite snacks. Sausages and pigs blood on the other hand, no way.

  7. Ladyexpat Ladyexpat Says:

    Hi Carrie, You know I love street food. I have tried all of these except the pigs blood. Not so sure I could get that down….:)

    Nice post.

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