Ba-wan is a delicacy found all over Taiwan, though its shape and taste vary by region. In northern Taiwan, it is made using sweet potato starch to produce the “skin”, stuffed with pork chunk and bamboo shoots, and then deep-fried. In southern Taiwan, it is made using rice flour for the skin, filled with minced pork and whiskered velvet shrimp, and steamed.
Taiwan has 14 endemic species of frogs, 10 belonging to the family Rhacophoridae of tree frogs. One member, the Orange Belly Tree Frog, inhabits the tops of trees in undisturbed broad-leaved forests of 500 to 1,000 meters mountain areas. These frogs are difficult to track and observe because they live far above the ground and their croak is weak and intermittent.
Orange Belly Tree Frog Binomial name：Rhacophorus aurantiventris
Legend has it stinky tofu, an odorous fermented bean curd, was invented accidentally. A tofu seller is said to have dared to taste the greenish smelly tofu he had left outside only to discover it was quite tasty. Nowadays, it is deep-fried and eaten with Taiwanese kimchi, barbequed and eaten with fermented cucumbers, steamed, or stewed in a spicy broth with duck blood curd. Taiwanese like it so much that some put it on pizza!
There are 8 species of pangolins, scaly anteaters, around the world. One of the luckiest is the Formosan pangolin, a sub-species of the Chinese pangolin endemic to Taiwan. Valued for their scales, pangolins are threatened by poaching and illegal trade globally. Fortunately, although world population of pangolins is in decline, their number has increased in Taiwan.
Formosan Pangolin Binomial name：Manis pentadactyla pentadactyla
The Formosan Yellow-throated Marten is a yellow and brown short-haired omnivore dwelling in mountain forests below 2,000 meters, though a few have settled at 3,850 meters in the woods near the North Peak Weather Station on Yushan. They look cute and small, but their claws and teeth make them deadly hunters, occasionally preying on mammals larger than they are.
Formosan Yellow-throated Marten Binomial name：Martes flavigula chrysospila
The oyster omelet, a typical Taiwanese street delicacy, is made of a mixture of egg, sweet potato starch, and oysters which is fried on a hot iron griddle and served with Chinese cabbage, lettuce or water spinach, depending on region. The most important feature of this delicacy is its sauce prepared with ketchup, soy sauce, miso and sugar. The sauce is saltier in the North and sweeter in the South.
One of Taiwan's local birds, the Black-naped Monarch has shiny blue feathers and unique breeding habits. These features make them popular among photographers. During their March-to-August breeding season, they carefully build their funnel-like nests. After mating, the female lays three eggs. The parents take turns caring for eggs as well as the chicks after they have hatched. The young ones grow up and start learning to fly in ten days.
Black-naped Monarch Binomial name：Hypothymis azurea oberholseri
Long before Taiwan's "boba milk tea" was invented, Taiwanese favored the classic dessert shaved ice with tapioca pearls. The dessert is very simple, the main ingredient being tapioca pearls served with shaved ice and pure cane sugar water. Although tapioca pearls are smaller than the bobas used in milk tea, they are equally bouncy and fun to chew. Some people prefer to add honey or milk instead of sugar water.
This enigmatically elegant moth is a member of Actias（Luna Moth）genus. It can only be found in Taiwan's mountainous areas above 2,000 meters where the Taiwan Fir and Taiwan Spruce grow. These plants are the only thing the moth's caterpillar eats. The adult moth has a very short life span after emerging from its cocoon, so if you have the chance to see one, consider yourself lucky for you have blessed by the Luna Goddess.
Actias neidhoeferi Binomial name：Actias neidhoeferi Ong & Yu
Hiking along sunny trails in mountain areas above 2,500 meters in Taiwan during summer, you may spot the Morrison Stonecrop with its bright star-shaped yellow blossoms and tiny succulent leaves. Its genus name, Sedum, is derived from Latin, "sedo," which means "to settle;" for they are mostly found well settled on rocky cliffs. There are more than 400 members in the stonecrop family, the Morrison Stonecrop being one of the eight species endemic to Taiwan.
Taiwan Edelweiss Binomial name：Leontopodium microphyllum Hayata