Bao Bing – 刨冰 (Shaved Ice)
Many taiwanese are crazy for Bao Bing, which is the local variety for shaved ice.
“Classic” Bao Bing is topped with red azuki beans, mung beans, taro balls, peanuts and further sweetened with sugar syrup or condensed milk.
Bao Bing often is also enriched with fresh fruit, especially mango. The ice could be crushed coarsely or very finely.
If it is very fine, it looks like Sicilian granita.
Bao Bing is eaten all year round, of course more in the hot Taiwanese summer. Word of mouth rewards the better “Bao Bing Shops”, such as Ice Monster and Tai Yi Milk King in Taipei, or Dong Dong Yu Yuan in Dakeng, around our Taichung City.
Aiyu – 愛玉凍 (Aiyu Jelly)
Aiyu Jelly is an authentic Taiwan dessert.
Aiyu is a climbing plant of the figs family that grows in Taiwan mountains between 1000 and 1800 meters of altitude, mainly in Alishan area.
The seeds, lightly pressed and “rubbed”, secrete a yellowish jelly. Aiyu Jelly is served cold with lemon juice or honey.
It is a typical refreshing summer dessert.
According to the legend the name Aiyu, which literally means “Beloved Jade,” was the name of a girl, the daughter of the discoverer of this Taiwanese delicacy.
Most likely however the name comes from Tsou aborigines, that obviously already knew the Aiyu plant before the arrival of Chinese in Taiwan.
Douhua – 豆花 (Tofu Pudding)
Douhua is a soft fresh toufu, similar to a pudding. Its Chinese name means “tofu flower”.
Douhua is a chinese dish, originally from Guangdong province. Howewer the chinese Douhua is a savory dish, eaten for breakfast.
Taiwanese Douhua is also sweet, topped with sugar syrup and peanuts. Douhua is usually eaten with ice in summer, warm in winter.
In this case is eaten as a dessert.
Without being too adventurous you can find a very good Douhwa in the food court of Taipei 101, right in front of one of the entrances, close to KFC.
The name of the shop is Xiao Nan Men (Little South Gate), it is a chain store. So you can find this eatery in other parts of Taipei and, besides Douhua, it offers different excellent Taiwanese snacks.
If Toufu Pudding seems to you a simple, “old fashioned” dessert, you are probably right. Indeed it is. I do like Douhua very much. To many taiwanese it brings memory of their childhood. I suggest you to try this sweet.
Ice Cream Spring Roll
Ice cream spring rolls are a peculiar concept. They typically have a skin, peanut candy shavings and two to three balls of ice cream which make for a strange yet satisfying taste and texture.
Sweet Rice Dumplings
From tangyuan, sweet potato, taro, black sesame and yam dumplings to green and red beans, this cold dessert hits the spot on a hot, humid day in Taiwan. It’s served with delicious chewy dumplings and beans and crushed iced, so it’s cool and refreshing but not overwhelmingly sweet like some other desserts can be.
Xian Cao – 仙草 (Grass Jelly)
In Taiwan, sweet jellies are an important part of the Chinese desserts.
Xian Cao is one of them.
The English name for Xian Cao is “Grass Jelly”. Xian Cao is a black jelly extracted from a plant of the mint family.
The taste is quite different from mint, anyway.
It has a kind of medicinal herbs fragrance, such as an italian “amaro”, yet more delicate and refreshing.
In summer you eat Xian Cao as little cubes on which shaved ice is added and sugar syrup or condensed milk are poured.
Hakka Leicha – 擂茶 (Pounded Tea)
Leicha is a delicacy of the Hakka, the population that in the last centuries migrated to Taiwan from Guangdong (southern China).
You pound tea leaves, sesame seeds and peanuts, all together in a mortar. More than often, you can add more ingredients such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine kernel and puffed rice.
Pounding and grinding produces a sticky paste on which finally hot water is poured. As Hakka people say, the finer the paste, the better the Leicha.
Often, in restaurants and teahouses where Leicha is served, customers are provided with the raw ingredients, a mortar and a pestle – the latter made with guava wood – so they can have fun in preparing their own Leicha.
We normally use a less atmospheric but much more convenient blender to prepare our own Leicha.
The original Leicha, prepared by Hakka people in Southern China, is savory, a kind of hot soup with vegetables and tea.
The Taiwanese version, as described above, is a sweet thick and, served hot or cold, is considered an excellent and nutritious breakfast for the colder months. I might say, a kind of Hakka muesli!
Mochi – 麻糬
Mochi – also spelled as Moji – is a soft Japanese dessert made basically with glutinous rice paste, with a rounded shape, often enriched with all kind of sweets such as red beans, walnuts, coconut powder and so on.
This Japanese mochi, that in the country of the Rising Sun is typically offered on the New Year, is very popular in Taiwan too. Good Japanese moji is sold in special shops that can be normally found in department stores.
Mochi in Taiwan is also a Chinese dessert, or more precisely, a Hakka dessert. This Hakka version is much simpler than the Japanese. It consists in plain handmade mochi, served with just a sprinkling of peanut powder on top.
The stress is on the simplicity and freshness of ingredient.
It is a tradition for Hakka women to prepare moji for wedding banquets. Mochi round shape symbolizes the union, the stickyness … the cohesion of the couple :))