I have a confession to make. I have an uncanny liking for anything with glutinous rice in it. It can be just plain savory version of steamed glutinous rice topped with shallot crisps and roasted peanuts, or a slightly jazzed up version of my grandma’s wicked “zok bee png“. Otherwise, a bak chang or two comes easily as a meal replacement for me anytime of the day. I also love it in sweet desserts, be it in Kueh Sarlat or the Japanese Sakuramochi a la Kansai Regardless of the form, I just love ’em all. Despite the high glycemic index glutinous rice purportedly has which can cause all of us to fatten up quickly, nothing really beats the sticky, chewy and a somewhat down-to-earth sensation glutinous rice provides that fills the tummy and the appetite at the same time. Perhaps I’d inherited my tastebuds from my mum, because she loved glutinous rice dishes as well. Or perhaps that is just the old soul in me, that constantly yearns for traditional flavours that many glutinous rice dishes are embodied with.
Like me, many Taiwanese are also particularly fond of dishes using glutinous rice. I’m pretty sure this is a very Asian thingy, or perhaps even a Hokkien thing. Like I’d mentioned previously, many Taiwanese signature dishes originated from Tainan, being the earliest urbanised regions in all Taiwan. 台南米糕 Tainan Glutinous Rice Bowl is one of them. One of my all-time favorites!
Talk about street food in Taiwan and one cannot dispense discussing “Oh-Ah Mee Sua” 蚵仔麵線 Taiwanese Oyster Mee Sua. With humble beginnings as a “poor man’s snack”, Oh Ah Mee Sua soon became an internationally renowned dish which one would flock to eat when they visit Taiwan. That is certainly the case for me. Over time, two versions evolved, one which uses fresh oysters 蚵仔, and another with braised large pig intestines 滷大腸, both equally popular with their own loyal followers. I love ’em both as they offer very different experience in flavours and textures. So if you like Oyster and Large Intestines Mee Sua like me, do give the recipe a try!
Long before the designation of Taipei 台北 as the capital city of Taiwan 台湾 by the Qing court in early 18th century, the southern city of Tainan 台南 was long regarded as the centre of administration, politics, as well as financial and economic development in this island state. Tainan was established as the base of Dutch Formosa when the Dutch East Indies company came in the early 1600s and used it as a trading post, which they’d named Fort Zeelandia at Anping 安平. This earned Tainan the name “hoo siah” 府城 in the local Min dialectal tongue, a place where the local folks in southern Taiwan, especially those in the neighbouring counties like Chiayi 嘉義, Pingtung 屏東, Kaohsiung 高雄 and Nantou 南投 looked upon as a site of social and cultural flourish back in the old days.
As the city prospered and grew, more and more people from surrounding rural regions moved into Tainan in search for a better livelihood and opportunities. As such, many aspects of Tainan also became more varied and diversified demographically, socially and culturally. Through the innovation of the locals, many Taiwanese snacks 台式小吃 and signature dishes in Taiwanese cuisine 台菜 we know today have their roots in Tainan. These include 擔仔麵 Dah-a Mee Soup Noodles with Braised Meat Sauce, 台式滷麵 Lor Mee Noodles in Thick Braising Sauce, 鳝魚意麵 Sen-Hee Yee Mee Braised Eel Noodles, 碗粿 Wah Kueh Tainan Steamed Rice Cake in a Bowl, 蚵仔麵線 Oh-aa Mee Sua Oyster Meesua, 蚵仔煎 Oh-aa Tsen Fried Oyster Omelette and of course, 棺材板 Gwa Tsah Pang Coffin Toast Bread.