Whenever people ask me for recommendations of what to do in Taiwan, “eat” is always my answers. It is true for other Taiwanese too, especially ones that live abroad. Taiwan might seem just like an island on the world map, but it’s an island full of gourmet food, mainly street foods (we have more than just bubble tea).
I have received the cookbook written by Cathy Erway, The Food of Taiwan, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to review back in March. This cookbook really interested me, because there isn’t any English cookbook out there that is about Taiwanese food. However, since school had kept me really busy, I didn’t have the time to test the recipes till summer vacations.
The author, Cathy Erway, is a Taiwanese-American, and also the author of The Art of Eating In, and the blog Not Eating Out in New York. The cookbook is divided into 8 parts, which each part is different types of food, including the basic introductions to sauces and condiments, appetizers/street snacks, vegetables…etcs. I like how the cookbook started with the history of Taiwan, and a lot of cultural elements are written in this cookbook. Since I left Taiwan when I was a kid, I’ve learned a lot about my own culture through the book too.
To test this book, I chose 3 recipes from the appetizers and street snacks section, because that’s mostly what Taiwanese food is known for. I also couldn’t help to make myself a dessert too. The “Gua bao”, aka Taiwanese Pork Belly Buns, has been quite a hit in North America lately. However, the traditional ones are made differently! Erway made it in the classic way, which crushed peanut powder and fresh cilantro are must!
The other one I tested was the oyster omelet, which is a popular night market street food. I’ve never made before. I was a bit doubtful when I saw Erway’s recipe uses sweet potato starch only, because most of the time, people use a mix of sweet potato starch and corn starch. However, it turned out well too! It still has the chewy texture.
The “run bing” (Taiwanese burrito) is one of my favorites, which my family makes it every year as a tradition at the beginning of spring. Though we have our family recipe for run bing, I tried Erway’s recipe this time. The preparation for this dish could be tedious, but it’s totally worth it! Perfect for the hot and humid weather in Taiwan.
Summer is the season for mango, hence mango shaved ice is a must too! This recipe is quite simple. It’s mainly about the sauce. As I followed the recipe, I found the syrup turned out to be a bit too sweet for my taste. It could because the mango is already sweet enough, due to it’s in season.
The other thing that I like about this cookbook is the brief introduction about each dish at the beginning of the recipe. Erway definitely have explored Taiwanese cuisines and cultures thoroughly. She provided a comprehensive introduction of Taiwan from various aspects. The Food of Taiwan will definitely brings you on a culinary and cultural journey of Taiwan.
The cookbook can be purchased online or in-store. Please visit here for complete list.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt sent me a review copy at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend products I have used/tried personally, and believe will interest my readers. All opinions and information reflects my true experience and was not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products. Opinions and views are my own.