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.
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!
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.
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.
The fresh spring roll is a Chinese delicacy traditionally eaten during Tomb-sweeping Day. How it is cooked and what it is filled with vary by region. In northern Taiwan, people prefer it filled mainly with bonito-stock-boiled-shredded lettuce and chopped braised pork; in southern Taiwan, people prefer to add more sugar and peanut powder to sweeten it up.
Taiwanese puffed-rice cake is made in a dramatic process. Rice is heated in a sealed cannonlike chamber of a pressure cooker. When the chamber is opened, the sudden change in pressure creates a loud boom followed by great clouds of steam. The puffed, crispy rice is mixed with the heated malt syrup, molded into blocks, cut into pieces, packaged and sold throughout Taiwan.
Taiwan's sweet peanut soup is delicious and simple to make. All you need is three key ingredients: water, sugar, and peanuts. The key to success in preparing this delicacy is to simmer the peanuts until tender. This sweet soup goes well with other Taiwanese delicacies including deep-fried dough sticks, douhua and tangyuan.
Made of duck or pig blood and glutinous rice, blood rice cake is considered strange by foreigners, but it is popular in Taiwan. Some people like it steamed and coated with peanut powder and coriander and served on a stick. Others like to cut it into cubes and mixed with sauces and served as appetizer or a drinking snack.
Mochi is a popular snack in Taiwan. It is a chewy glutinous rice ball often stuffed with sweet red bean paste or black sesame paste. Taiwan's Hakka people, however, like mochi plain without filling. Instead, they like it sprinkled with peanut or black sesame powder. Taiwan's Ami tribe also have a similar snack, using millet instead of glutinous rice as the main ingredient.