Archives for the month of: August, 2018

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Taiwan’s southern tip has beautiful beaches and stretches of ancient fossilized corals populated with all manner of crabs, fish, mudskippers, and shellfish. Here are my nephew, niece, and my sister near O-luan-pi or the “Goose’s Beak” area at the very southern end of Taiwan. They are standing on an ancient seabed; when these Miocene corals were laid down the mighty shark Megalodon swam the seas.

 

 

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I’ve just returned from a short stint circumnavigating Taiwan with family, and we ate really well. Americans are not too crazy about glutinous texture dishes (that’s sticky-starchy, not wheat-based). But Asians adore gooey glutinous food in many forms: main dishes, desserts, even drinks.

There is a little street-side joint with stools on the sidewalk just a block from my Dad’s place in Taichung, the township where he was born. As we walked past, a wonderful aroma floated out, wrapped us up, and pulled us in. The specialty of the house: Taiwanese meatballs!

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Known as rou yuan in Mandarin (肉圓) or Ba wan in Taiwan’s Hokkien dialect, the dish is a delicately steamed ball of minced pork wrapped inside a translucent, gelatinous bubble made of rice and sweet potato flour and steamed or deep-fried. The meat ball is usually flavored with minced bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms. The whole thing is served drenched in a sweet chili gravy that can be a mixture of ketchup, sugar, garlic paste, chili and rice flour. You dip your ba wan in the gravy, then bite into the glutinous pocket and piping hot meatball juices burst into your mouth to form sweet/hot/salty awesomeness.

My father’s family have loved these goodies for more than a century and I can picture my Dad, uncles, and auntie as teenagers in the 1950s running out to the vendors to buy them.