The 10 best dishes from Taiwan's night markets -- made to make your mouth water
In Taiwan, the imagination and innovation on display in even some of its simplest snack stalls is something to behold.
So here's a quick tour of the top night markets in four major cities around Taiwan, and their most salivatory dishes.
Shares the same love or hate relationship most people have with durian. Stinking, fermented tofu is deep fried and served with pickled cabbage, carrots and chili sauce.
I hated stinky tofu when I tried it in mainland China, Hong Kong and other Chinatowns around Asia, but I love Taiwan’s version. It’s sold everywhere in Taiwan, so just head towards that stink you smell at the night market.
Get your stinky tofu at: Raohe night market, Taipei
Rice sausage wrapped with Taiwanese sausage. Sticky rice is stuffed into sausage casing, grilled, cut open and is used as the ‘bun’ for the traditional sweet Taiwanese sausage. You won’t mistake it for street meat from New York City, but it’s pretty good.
For all your rice sausage needs: Ruifeng night market, Kaohsiung
specialty from the night markets of Tainan, a slice of thick-cut white bread is deep fried to a golden crisp then the top is cut open and creamy seafood chowder is poured in. Think of it as Tainan’s version of the San Francisco bread-bowl chowder.
Coffin scoffin' best at: Xiaobei night market, Tainan
Deep fried prawns
The key to any deep-fried savory dish is crispy outside, soft on the inside, and this snack from Tainan does it perfectly. Freshly caught prawns are battered and insta-deep fried and served with a sweet brown sugar sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi for a sweet, sour, nose-clearing finish.
Stewed pork rice
Pork belly or shoulder is slowly stewed with no fewer than 10 ingredients from the morning hours until the night market opens. It’s an open secret that the sauce that’s unused the day before is used the next day -- and that’s why it tastes so good.
In northern Taiwan, the pork is minced while in the south they use pork cubes. This is a very commonly eaten dish on the night-market circuit. Sometimes shredded chicken is added to a bowl of stewed pork rice.
The most delicious part of: Dai Tian Gong night market, Kaohsiung
Baked black pepper pork
Baked black pepper pork pockets are the star snack at the popular Rao He night market in Taipei. Just outside the Ci You Temple, a small army of workers make these savory mouthfuls of goodness by baking them against the wall of a clay oven.
There is always a long line but once the pork pockets emerge hot, steaming and salty-good, you'll be ready to start queuing all over again.
Although served in many parts of China, Taiwan’s version of this much loved Chinese classic is deep fried rather than pan fried and has a less doughy texture than the traditional green onion pancakes. These scallion pancakes are sold at most night markets in Taiwan.