Food and Wine

The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island

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Acclaimed author Cathy Erway offers an insider's look at Taiwanese cooking—from home-style dishes to authentic street food

While certain dishes from Taiwan are immensely popular, like steamed buns and bubble tea, the cuisine still remains relatively unknown in America. In The Food of Taiwan, Taiwanese-American Cathy Erway, the acclaimed blogger and author of The Art of Eating In, gives readers an insider’s look at Taiwanese cooking with almost 100 recipes for both home-style dishes and street food. Recipes range from the familiar, such as Pork Belly Buns, Three Cup Chicken, and Beef Noodle Soup, to the exotic, like the Stuffed Bitter Melon, Oyster Noodle Soup, and Dried Radish Omelet. Tantalizing food photographs intersperse with beautiful shots of Taiwan’s coasts, mountains, and farms and gritty photos of bustling city scenes, making this book just as enticing to flip through as it is to cook from.

From the Publisher

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup from The Food of Taiwan

Makes 6 to 8 servings

It’s widely believed that this hallmark of Taiwanese cuisine was created within the military villages set up to accommodate the influx of mainlanders at the middle of the twentieth century. There is nowhere else a noodle soup quite like it, although the dish has conspicuous influences from Sichuan province—chili bean sauce and Sichuan peppercorns. Some call it Taiwan’s ‘national dish,’ while others argue that Danzai Noodle Soup (see page 138) is more representative of older, more traditional Taiwanese cuisine. Regardless, its deeply savory, delicious broth has made it a popular favorite on the island, and amongst visitors, too.


Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add as much of the beef as will fit on the bottom of the pan without too much overlap (you will need to work in batches). Cook, flipping with tongs, until both sides are gently browned, 5 to 6 minutes total. Repeat with the remaining beef, adding more oil as needed. Transfer the meat to a dish and set aside.

Heat another tablespoon of the oil in the same pot until just hot. Add the ginger, garlic, scallions, chilies, and tomato. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant and the vegetables are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the sugar and cook until dissolved and the mixture is bubbling. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the chili bean sauce.

Stir in the rice wine and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits. Let boil for a minute, then add the light and dark soy sauces, the water, peppercorns, five-spice powder, and star anise. Bring just to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Skim the scum that rises to the top of the pot with a slotted spoon. Cover and cook at a low simmer for at least 2 hours, preferably 3 hours.

For the Noodles and Serving

Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Divide among individual serving bowls. Ladle the soup into each bowl with chunks of the beef, top with scallions and the blanched green vegetables, if using, and serve.


2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil

2 pounds beef stew meat, preferably boneless shank, cut into 2-inch cubes

6 thick slices peeled fresh ginger

6 garlic cloves, smashed

2 whole scallions, trimmed and coarsely chopped

2 to 3 small fresh red chilies

1 large plum tomato, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chili bean sauce

1 cup rice wine

1/2 cup light soy sauce

1/4 cup dark soy sauce

2 1/2 quarts water

1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

2 star anise

2 pounds Asian wheat noodles (any width)

1 whole scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced

8 small heads gently blanched baby bok choy, or substitute with spinach, sweet potato leaves, or other leafy green vegetable (optional)

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