'Taste Taiwan' Chefs Selected for Culinary Tour of Taiwan
3 lucky chefs from North America were selected for an 8-day culinary tour of Taiwan
Three lucky North American chefs have been chosen to participate in the "Taste Taiwan" culinary tour, arranged by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. Nominations for chefs were accepted from Los Angeles, New York, and Vancouver, Canada, and after an extensive review process of the "overwhelming number of nominations," the Taiwan Tourism Bureau selected three chefs based on their professional experience and culinary skills. The selected "Taste Taiwan" chefs are Bryant Wigger, from Los Angeles restaurant Trattoria Neapolis, chef Michael Ferraro from New York restaurant Delicatessen, and chef Thomas Heinrich from Vancouver.
The three chefs are invited to Taiwan for an eight-day culinary tour of the island, from Dec. 2 to 10, which will be recorded for a short TV production. The three chefs will be joined by a film crew as they dine at Taiwan's finest restaurants, experience fresh produce markets, night markets, and culinary institutes. The recorded footage will then be condensed into a 30-minute show, set to air in the U.S. in 2014. Upon returning to their respective cities, the chefs will also host a "Taste Taiwan" culinary event at their restaurants to launch a new Taiwan-inspired menu in 2014.
(No availability) 5 Days Taiwan Culinary Holiday
Brimming with spectacular sights and mouth-watering food, this Taiwan family tour is a bash for the whole family. The fun-loving English-speaking tour guide will show you the wonders of Taiwan, emphasizing family and food, two aspects that are pervasive throughout the island. This tour is tailor-made for family fun with specially selected activities, the best sights for photo ops, yummy snacks and local cuisine, and much more! Your stay in Taiwan will be an enjoyable and memorable experience for your whole family!
- Tour Taroko National Park
- Release sky lanterns at Pingxi
- Taste delicious specialties at Fengjia Market
- Take the train along the coast from Hualien back to Taipei and enjoy the ocean views
- Enjoy the must-see Qingjing Farm sheep-shearing show
- Cow feeding experience at Flying Cow Ranch
- Visit Sun Moon Lake scenic area
- 4 nights accommodation
Taiwan Tourism Bureau Launches “Best of Taste Taiwan” in North America
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau has launched its “Best of Taste Taiwan” campaign in North America, which will run through June 2016.
Taiwan, located in the “Heart of Asia,” is renowned for its award-winning cuisine, historical attractions, and stunning natural scenery, making it the perfect destination for both long-haul and stopover visits to Asia. In 2015, Taiwan welcomed more than 10 million international visitors.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau produced its brand-new travel show, “Best of Taste Taiwan: 10 Things You Must Do,” highlighting an array of activities throughout the country — from signature experiences to local secrets: visiting the iconic Taipei 101, the tallest building in Taiwan savoring local cuisine in a bustling night market and at the world-famous Din Tai Fung restaurant navigating the island aboard Taiwan’s easily accessible transportation system experiencing natural wonders at Taroko Gorge wandering through the nostalgic gold-mining town of Jiufen, and much more. This 30-minute special is hosted by Mike Siegel, an acclaimed television presenter and host of the popular “Travel Tales” podcast.
The Taiwan Tourism Bureau hosted the premiere of “Best of Taste Taiwan” in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, and Houston throughout the month of April. Cocktail receptions attracted more than 100 guests in each city, including high-profile media, travel influencers, tour operators, and travel agents.
Chef Summit Held In Taiwan: Asia’s Biggest Culinary Event Of 2020
As the West sees newly enforced Coronavirus lockdowns, things in the East are beginning to ease. In 2020, Taiwan received global praise for managing the Coronavirus spread so well. Since the pandemic began, the country has hosted two major music festivals and numerous summits and gatherings in the world of food and beverage. And, just last month, the country hosted the International Chefs Summit Asia 2020, with some of Asia's most renowned chefs in attendance. The event brought 2020 to a positive close.
Chef Vincent Weng's signature dish, Sichuan steak.
We enter the National Theatre in Taichung on a sunny morning and, even behind masks, the chefs can be recognized. With a new lockdown and virus strain underway in the UK, and new waves taking place across the globe, it's nothing short of amazing that such a live event could take place in Taiwan. While some of Taiwan’s best chefs were in attendance, like Vincent Weng of Chinois and Logy's Ryogo Tahara, the number of international chefs that joined in virtually or with recordings made the event all the more important for the global food scene.
This event marked the fourth year the International Chefs Summit Asia has taken place, and while last year the event took place in Singapore, it was moved to Taiwan in 2020 in order to make live attendance greater. Over 23 world-renowned chefs joined live and virtually, from 6 major Asian cities, making the ICSA 2020 the year’s biggest Asian culinary event.
Some of the Michelin-starred chefs present at the ISCA 2020 in Taichung.
The summit kicked off with a two-hour industry talk titled, "When East Meet West", discussing the combinations used in creating a united global food culture. Paul Lee from 1 Michelin-starred, Impromptu by Paul Lee started the talks with a short note on how we should all appreciate Taiwan and the freedom and openness the country gives chefs to continue to innovate and experiment in creating exciting new dishes.
The Top American Whiskies According To New York International Spirits Competition
The Top Tequilas According To The New York International Spirits Competition
17 Rosé Wines and Pink Aperitif To Sip Through Spring and Summer
‘This year’s theme is “when east meets the west.” It is to stress that even at such difficult times, Asia’s chefs can still make breakthroughs and re-define their cuisines using the original cooking techniques of their own land as well as innovative techniques from the west.’ ICSA’s spokesperson, Cathy Chao said.
Janice Wong joined live to discuss her dessert bar, 2am:dessert, in Singapore which creates a large mixture of desserts, like chocolate crayons and edible art. Guests can visit the art, taste it, and learn about it. Wong emphasizes the importance of always being creative and giving guests an interactive experience. Ryogo Tahara spoke on bringing Japan and Europe together in his restaurant, Logy, which has won two Michelin stars in just two years. Sung Anh discussed 1 Michelin-starred Mosu and moving the restaurant from the US to Seoul. All the way from Tokyo, 2 Michelin-starred chefs, Hitoyasu Kawate of Florilege and chef Zaiyu Hasegawa of Den brought their abundant knowledge to the floor. Their restaurants were in 7th and 3rd place, respectively, in the 2020 Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards. The two opened a restaurant together this year.
Voted Asia's Best Female Chef, 1 Michelin-starred Cho Hee Sook joined virtually, as did Singapore's Kirk Westaway of Jaan, Bangkok's Thitid Tassanakajohn, and many other renowned chefs from Seoul, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Following the talk, guests were ushered to their tables to enjoy a course menu prepared by the Taiwanese chefs in attendance. Here the goal was to showcase the flavours and combinations prepared by Taiwan’s talented chefs and to attract new fans and supporters for the future International Chef Summits. The room was full and bustling, something almost unbelievable, with the protective measures currently in place in most countries. As 2021 kicks off, I hope the world can open up and these kinds of events can start to take place globally, once more.
A united culinary industry is of the utmost importance, especially after such a difficult year. These summits help to bring chefs together, to learn from each other, and to great a stronger spirit of collaboration in such a competitive industry. ICSA did an amazing job, and no doubt will continue to do so in the future.
Noodle (&ldquoGu Bei Tao&rdquo)
Despite its rather simple English name, there is much more flour-based joy on tap in this young venture than noodles. It&rsquos run by a group of foodie buddies who wanted to sail their ship of destiny together. One was previously a chef at renowned KaoChi, a restaurant chain famed for its high-end Shanghai delicacies, where his specialty was xiaolongbao.
Their cozy venture is just off Roosevelt Road on a quiet side street, not far from MRT Guting Station. There is a real comfortable neighborhood feel here &ndash Noodle is surrounded by cafés busy through the day.
The compact kitchen works as a powerful marketing pull. It&rsquos right in the front, a large window allowing passersby a full view of the always busy well-coordinated team at work in their tight ship-galley-like artistry space, flour dust floating through the air.
Especially juicy and satisfying here are the crab roe xiaolongbao, which have both roe and crab meat and extra-thin skins almost translucent. The skins are lighter in taste and have a sweetness not found in the dumplings you&rsquoll find elsewhere &ndash sugarcane juice is added. They&rsquore unusually broth-lush &ndash when eating xiaolongbao, to avoid scalding first nibble a small hole before taking a bigger bite, to prevent a juice explosion.
Shaomai are a popular type of Cantonese dim sum. Noodle&rsquos shrimp shaomai is done Shanghai style, with a whole plump shrimp in the small mouth at the top adding a pleasing texture contrast with the minced shrimp inside. Another creative filling ingredient is Chinese water chestnut, bringing minced crunchy sensations and hints of sweetness.
Other Noodle must-tries are the dandan noodles, featuring a zingy broth made with garlic, peanut sauce, sesame sauce, and a house-crafted Sichuan-style mala sauce, here with a big spicy minced-pork ball on top, and the golden/molten lava buns, a Cantonese dim sum made sweeter here than elsewhere and fresh-branded with the &ldquoNoodle&rdquo logo, adding a pleasurable contrasting crisp texture and scorched taste to the creamy innards.
Take a train in Taiwan and you will be invited to buy an onboard lunchbox. This wasn’t always the case, and especially on long, slow journeys up and down the east coast, local vendors would sell foodstuffs of varying quality through the train windows. Fulong lunchboxes (福隆便當), although simple – usually just a portion of pork or chicken, vegetables, egg, white rice, and a slice of bright yellow pickled turnip – gained a reputation for acceptable quality, making Fulong the preferred point of purchase in northeastern Taiwan.
Taiwan Business TOPICS
For a foreign national, learning Taiwanese cooking turned out to be not just a culinary adventure, but a life lesson.
It used to be that if foreigners could pronounce the intended destination with approximate similitude, the cab driver would in wonderment compliment them on their “excellent” Chinese. I get much the same reaction these days when claiming to be proficient in Taiwanese cooking: “Wow, you’re so amazing!”
Not really. It’s a lot easier to prepare the Buddha Jumps over the Wall soup than to master tones and remember 1,500 or more characters. Nevertheless, I have previously been cautious about cooking Asian food beyond the occasional hot pot, basic rice dish, or fried noodles, since my comfort zone is basically Western cuisine (English, French, and Mediterranean), where I have a good feel for what ingredients will go together well.
Though I’ve been eating Taiwanese food for years, I was unsure of the basic palette of herbs and spices, and had no idea there were so many different kinds of soy sauce (dark, light, lite, and thick). Even choosing the right rice was problematic: how to get that slightly sweet and glutinous offering that Taiwanese like?
I was encouraged to try a little harder when given this assignment to review four English-language Taiwanese cookbooks: The Food of Taiwan, Recipes from the Beautiful Island by Cathy Erway Blue Eye Dragon Taiwanese Cooking by Jade and Muriel Chen What’s for Dinner, Mama? by Amy Wu and Carrie’s Kitchen, Entree and Dessert by Carrie Yeh.
The mission was to rely on the guidance of these books to serve up daily offerings to my test subjects: the wife, kids, and friends. After I had practiced on them, I proposed to host a banquet for my Taiwanese mother-in-law and her expanding brood. Having been treated by “Ma” to many excellent dinners over the years, it was time to return the favor. The one certainty was a brutally honest opinion, as Ma doesn’t mince her words.
I proposed to host a banquet for my Taiwanese mother-in-law and her expanding brood. Having been treated by “Ma” to many excellent dinners over the years, it was time to return the favor. The one certainty was a brutally honest opinion, as Ma doesn’t mince her words.
Before we begin, I ought here to list my bona fides as a cook. Both my mother and father were chefs and ran their own gastro pub before that became fashionable. Dad went on to provide banquets for royalty. So I was washing a lot of dishes, julienning vegetables, and frying up at a young age. As a student, I paid my way during holidays as a sous chef at a bistro in London’s Islington, working under an Austrian Michelin award-winner who was as bad tempered as he was alcoholic. I’ve worked in kindergarten kitchens and on beach barbecues, but nowadays tend to cook in-house, as my wife is better suited to her role as a bank executive and doesn’t have the time or inclination to toil at the stove.
While the above experience was useful, trying to cook authentic Taiwan fare was like using the left hand rather than the right. It was back to basics. The preparation time was longer than for Western food because of all the dicing and mixing, but the actual cooking time was a lot shorter as ingredients are thrown into the wok and cooked rapidly before being plated. You have to be more organized and plan ahead, and it’s not easy – or advisable – to stop to refer to the cookbook while the wok is bubbling like a cauldron over a high flame.
Trying to cook authentic Taiwan fare was like using the left hand rather than the right. It was back to basics… it’s not easy – or advisable – to stop to refer to the cookbook while the wok is bubbling like a cauldron over a high flame.
Apart from the focus on Taiwan’s food, the four books under consideration have a common thread set out in almost identical forwards: A Taiwan woman, now an expat but proud of her roots, reminisces about the mother who taught her to cook and likens food to an expression of familial love. (The Food of Taiwan also introduces the history, culture, and politics of the island.)
As a result, what you get in these volumes are recipes for heart-warming, home-cooked meals that have worked for generations. They also present Taiwan as a society with a unique and impressive culinary tradition. As Cathy Erway puts it in an email from New York: “The idea of Taiwan as having a distinct and unified culture is a thesis that has been gaining support in recent years,” with bubble tea popular in the Big Apple, along with popcorn chicken, beef noodle soup, and three-cup chicken.
Perhaps unavoidably, the content of the four books is often overlapping, down to the dishes selected and cooking methods recommended – and there are slim pickings for the advanced chef. Asked about this stress on relatively simple fare, Erway says she would like to “explore the high-end dining traditions as well as other facets of Taiwanese cuisine in separate volumes.”
The idea of Taiwan as having a distinct and unified culture is a thesis that has been gaining support in recent years.
As a beginner in the Taiwan kitchen, one of my first queries was inevitably what to shop for and where. Blue Eye Dragon contains a “Glossary of Unusual Ingredients” that will point the way forward, while Erway’s tome has a section on “The Taiwanese Pantry” that is handy for the novice. Here she lays out the dried spices, condiments, and herbs that need to be stocked up on, with an explanatory paragraph on their use. It’s not a super-extensive or expensive list of ingredients, but it’s best to ensure that what you need is at hand.
While Erway recommends supermarkets, I discovered there’s nothing better than a dedicated “mixed goods” (雜貨店) or “dried goods store” (乾貨店). They are the 7-Eleven’s of yesteryear. Residents and visitors have undoubtedly passed these packed, dusty, and slightly ramshackle stores. You probably smelled them first and then thought better of having a look around. The goods only make sense once you start cooking local dishes.
While the lingua franca in such stores is usually Taiwanese, I found you can get your point over effectively with a mixture of Mandarin, a translation app, and pointing. It’s here, among the filled shelves and discombobulating smells, thousand-year eggs and sacks of rice, that you should gather the essentials: your five-spice powder fermented soy beans the orange, sultana-like go qi (Chinese wolfberries), and XO sauce.
I discovered there’s nothing better than a dedicated “mixed goods” (雜貨店) or “dried goods store” (乾貨店). They are the 7-Eleven’s of yesteryear.
When searching for something, do ask the proprietors what brand they think is best and you will get halfway to that authentic taste you’re after. It’s obviously different from Western cooking, where time will inevitably be spent in the delicatessen salivating over cheeses, cuts of meat, or weighing the cost of extra-virgin oil. But I must say, it’s much more rewarding to go from knowing nothing to learning something, not just about food but a country’s culture.
As all chefs know, traditional markets are another great place to find local ingredients. While I’m not one for rising early to make sure of getting the best stuff, the produce is usually fresher and therefore more likely to taste better, as well as being healthier. Costs are lower and you can, for instance, get dark-bone or mountain chicken, as opposed to some processed fowl in cling film.
Having stocked up your cupboards, it’s time to decide what to cook first. If like me you are a beginner, my advice is start with the easy ones and work your way up. If you’re more experienced, feel free to jump in anywhere.
As mentioned, all four books are fairly similar in terms of the recipes, with both The Food of Taiwan and Blue Eye Dragon opting for familiar favorites, such as three-cup calamari, deep-fried shrimp rolls, and sweet-and-sour fish. Of the two, Blue Eye Dragon is a bit more adventurous, but The Food of Taiwan covers most of the bases and was more suited to my inexperience level. So, the latter was my go-to book.
Amy Wu’s offering was the least used, partly because the typography was so off-putting – a mix of typefaces, colors, underlining, and odd spacing between words that made it hard to read. If What’s for Dinner, Mama? was really geared toward kids this might be understandable, but it’s not. I also found the language unwieldy (“slippery orange gravy”), tenses mixed, grammatical rules stretched, and there was a sinful overuse of exclamation marks! “It can easily be a treat for breakfast, lunch or dinner in your hand!” “When my kids were little they called them yummy noodles anyway!”
Carrie’s Kitchen, on the other hand, is a book that children of a certain age can easily reference because of its clear type and explanatory diagrams. Together with my kids (aged 6 and 8), I tried out the sweet sago cream with taro and coconut milk, and they were happily guided by the flow diagrams and delighted by the results.
With all four books, following the instructions produced good results, so no problem there. Mostly, would-be cooks will need to decide what suits them and their home best. Before venturing to prepare the “Final Banquet,” I tried out two months’ worth of dishes on family and friends.
Three Cup Chicken (三杯雞, sanbeiji) ready to serve.
Regrettably, the banquet started off badly with a unanimous conclusion that the clam and daikon radish soup (蛤蜊蘿蔔湯) was too salty. I’m a low-sodium man, but the audience is never wrong, so what happened? I have to admit that it wasn’t the recipe. What I did was use an off-the-shelf stock or broth as the base – and what I should have done, as all chefs worth their whites will tell you, is make my own. Lesson learned, and a supply of broth to be frozen or refrigerated is being boiled up as I write.
My brother-in-law had requested a sweet-and-sour dish, so I plumped for pan-fried tofu with date sauce (甘梅豆腐), which got the ball rolling nicely. The sauce is a bit complicated and involves blending, but can be made in advance, so it’s easy to accomplish with a bit of time and was well received.
The piece de resistance of the meal: pan-fried fish with garlic, ginger, and scallions.
The three-cup chicken (三杯雞) was a little disappointing because I had done it well previously. This time, I mistakenly put in rice vinegar, when the recipe clearly calls for rice wine. I tried to ameliorate by diluting with the wine and redoing, but then the chicken was overcooked. I did tell Erway what I had done and felt a little vindicated when she replied that the “copy editor accidentally wrote vinegar in the recipe’s introduction” in the first edition — which is the one I have.
The lightly braised local vegetables – some grown on my balcony, along with basil and chilies – were Chinese leeks (jiucaihua, 韭菜花), sweet potato leaves (diguaye, 地瓜葉) and fresh peas. All good stuff. However, my penchant for Maggi seasoning rather than soy sauce was noted by the diners and considered inauthentic. Lesson learned. The brown and white rice mix was liked by all (slightly glutinous but wholesome), though the new Tatung rice cooker can take some of the credit.
My final creation, a pan-fried whole fish with garlic, ginger, and scallions (蔥薑全魚) was the crowning achievement. Enjoyed by all, even Ma waxed lyrical by saying I was doing a better job in the kitchen than her daughter. High praise indeed. She concluded with a comment that all four book writers would likely agree on: The important thing is not so much the food as the thought behind it. The evening was helped along by a bottle of red wine and Taiwan Beer, plus smoky plum juice for the kids.
Mom bravely feeds Xiao Ningmeng the foreign uncle’s Taiwanese cooking.
The whole experience made me think back to the first Asian-style dinner I attempted, as a 13-year-old in rural England. It took me all morning and afternoon and was, I fear, overly ambitious. The fish dish turned out particularly badly when the cap on the soy sauce bottle fell off. My recovery operation only made things worse, and it ended up looking unlike any marine creature you have ever seen…unless you’ve angled in the Irish Sea and pulled out some creature deformed by nuclear waste and coated in oil from a container spill.
Understandably, perhaps, it didn’t go down very well. While my mother was polite and encouraging, my stepfather was less so. I seem to recall the dinner ending, not long after I served the fish, with him exiting the room, swearing loudly. I think he suspected that I was trying to poison him.
Clearly, I have learned a few things over the years, and I’m pleased to report that with the help of the cookbooks, my Taiwan banquet worked out far better than my youthful Chinese cooking efforts.
5. Chili (辣椒 làjiāo )
Chili pepper is heavily used. It is often dried to make chili flakes or chili powder ( 辣椒粉 làjiāofěn /laa-jyaoww-fnn/), chili paste ( 辣椒酱 làjiāojiàng /laa-jyaoww-jyang/), and chili oil. Chili powder, flakes, and paste are heavily used in Chinese cooking especially in the colder northeast and the area around Sichuan and Guangxi.
Fresh chilis are also heavily used for cooking. They might be chopped up and used to make sauces or to season food. The people in Hunan Province like to use fresh chili peppers in their dishes.
Around Sichuan, they like to mix it with peppercorns for their favorite tangy, bitter-hot flavor. Hunanese prefer to mix it with vinegar instead for a refreshing sour-hot flavor. Chinese often use it along with garlic for sautéing, stir-frying, steaming, and smoking.
- Pronunciation: /laa-jyaoww/
- Usage: In many restaurants, you'll find bowls of chili sauce set out for the customers. You could also ask for chile sauce along with your meals. It is more difficult to find chili powder in a Chinese restaurant.
Health Benefits and Warnings/Side Effects
Health benefits: Chili pepper is another high Yang herb. Like ginger, it can be used to replenish Yang in the body. It is very high in vitamin C. One chili pepper has more vitamin C than an orange. Its helps people to heal faster and helps heal or prevent circulation problems. It opens clogged blood vessels, and it can help prevent strokes, heart attacks, ulcers, and promote proper blood circulation and heart health. It also has strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Warnings/side effects: None, but if you suffer from asthma, be careful about eating a lot at one time since the burning sensation might aggravate your lung and nasal passages. But using a little every day will probably help alleviate asthma problems.
The trip was provided by the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau and Open Trips . Flights to Taipei were provided by Eva Air, which flies from Heathrow from £670 return
Hing Kee Bubble Tea in Nottingham
Bubble tea purveyors have popped up all over the place. Tea shops dedicated to the chewy drink include Cafe de Pearl in Liverpool (cafedepearl.com), Bobo Tea in Manchester (lovebobotea.co.uk) and Hing Kee Bubble Tea in Nottingham (facebook.com/HingKeeBubbleTea). Visit taiwanfestival.co.uk for the top 30 around the UK.
Most of the country's Taiwanese restaurants are in London. Taiwan Village in Fulham (taiwanvillage.com) serves stinky tofu Leong's Legends in Soho (leongslegends.co.uk) has oyster omelettes and spicy beef noodles the Old Tree Bakery in Golders Green and Soho specialises in Taiwanese street food and desserts (oldtreebakeryuk.wordpress.com) the confusingly named Hunan in Pimlico (hunanlondon.com) serves a Taiwanese tasting menu and Formosa in Fulham (1 Walham Grove, no website) will produce a Taiwanese menu on request.
In Edinburgh, try Meadowood Cafe (meadowood.co.uk) or Jade Garden takeaway (12 Canon Street). Elsewhere, your best bet is a Chinese restaurant that offers regional cuisines, which may include a few Taiwanese dishes. Sample the Taiwan-style frogs legs at Blue Moon in Newcastle (thebluemoonrestaurant.com), for example, or the congee, pig's stomach or pig intestines at the Mayflower in Bristol (mayflower-bristol.co.uk). Love in Cambridge (facebook.com/lovein.cambridge) is a home bakery selling Taiwanese pineapple cake and other snacks.
Find out if your local university has a Taiwanese student society – such groups often organise Taiwanese food festivals. Failing that, make it yourself: Taipec.com has a UK directory of Asian supermarkets stocking Taiwanese products.
Bao can be found at east London's Netil Market on Saturdays and at pop-up street food events
UK section by Rachel Dixon