Three meals a day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – has become a nearly universal standard.  What people eat is incredibly varied around the world and yet in most places people stick to the 3 meals rule.  In Taiwan, they have a different method.  Instead of 3 large meals they spread it out, eating small snacks all day long.  A true culture of snackers, you will find little shops, food stands, and street vendors all offering up small dishes throughout the day and into the night.  As a tourist, you will find whole streets, at least 20 of them in Taipei alone, devoted to snacking.

Take your time; eat dish after dish as you hop from food stand to food stand.  You’ll soon notice that not only do the Taiwanese love snacking, they love variety.  Hundreds of unique dishes are offered and it seems new snacks are invented every week.  Unless you move here, you have no real hope of making it through every snack option.  If you want a real insight into the food culture though, there are a few snacks you really shouldn’t miss.  Check out our favorite below.

Lurou Fan

If there was a national dish of Taiwan, luron fan would be if not the winner, a close runner up.  The dish is basically braised minced pork over rice.  It is made of finely chopped pork belly, not really quite to the point of being minced but close.  It is then slow cooked in soy sauce with a variety of spice to give it a rich flavor.  Once done, the pork is served over hot rice.  A combination of sweet and salty, lurou fan is the perfect comfort food.

Stinky Tofu

When it comes to controversial dishes, stinky tofu is definitely on the list.  For many Taiwanese who grew up eating the dish, there is nothing better.  Foreigners though often have a different reaction to the, well, strong smell.  You can’t really come to Taiwan and not at least try the dish though.  There are a few ways to eat it, the most common being just plain, with a few pickled vegetables and a drizzling of soy sauce on top.  You can also try eating it hot pot style, with a mix of other ingredients, and although this way can make the scent stronger, the flavor is also a bit more mild.

Beef Noodle Soup

You know a country loves a dish when they create a whole festival around it.  The annual Beef Noodle Festival is a chance for Taiwanese to celebrate a dish they love and eat year round.  Ever chef worth his salt knows how to make a good beef noodle soup and the dish has become very competitive with many of the country’s top chef claiming they make the best.  Although the basic recipe is quite simple, each stand, restaurant, and even home cook puts their own unique touch on the soup.

Oyster Omelet

Voted best snack to represent Taiwan in a national poll, this dish combines both the sea and the land, representing the island national quite well.  The dish is a combination of eggs, local oysters, a few vegetables, a bit of starch to add some more chewiness, and served with a savory sauce on top.  Depending on where you buy it, many cooks will also add a bit of spicy chili sauce for a more intense flavor.  The best place to find good oyster omelets are the many Taiwanese night markets where they are mixed up and served fresh.

Photo Credit: martin_kalfatovic via photopin cc

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