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.
Papaya milk is a smoothie made from papaya, milk, crushed ice, and sometimes sugar. This “must-try” Taiwanese beverage, which can be bought in shops and from vendors on the streets and night markets, is very refreshing on hot summer days. It is best to consume as soon as it is served, before it coagulates into a tofu-like texture.
The meat-filled Taiwanese traditional snack, gua bao is also called “hu ya ju” (tiger bites pig) because it looks like the jaw of a tiger biting a piece of pork. The Taiwanese eat gua bao at the end of the year to signify eating up all the misfortunes from the past year and leaving a clean plate for good things to come.
The name of the pastry Gû-lı̍k was transliterated into Taiwanese from the last word of the French pastry on which it is based, the “biscuit à la cuillère,” during the Japanese ruling period. Gû-lı̍k have a taste and texture reminiscent of their European predecessor. They can be discovered sitting on shelves of Taiwanese style pastry vendors.