Street Food in Taiwan: Pig's Blood Cake
Serious Eats' Culinary Ambassadors check in from time to time with reports on food fare in their homeland or countries of residence. Here's the latest! —The Mgmt.
A large part of Taiwanese cuisine is characterized by its street food culture, with carts and stalls occupying an obscene amount of real estate, pretty much anywhere there's people. Cheap and plentiful, it exists as breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. If anything, it's like a second mom. It's always there for you.
Now, it would almost seem like an insult if I actually tried to summarize what constitutes street food in Taiwan, given its wide range of tastes. Typical street food in Taiwan ranges from tempura to fried octopus tentacles to stinky tofu, but if there were one thing that could be considered Taiwanese through and through, it would be pig's blood cake.
What is pig's blood cake? It's what you get when sticky rice gets drenched in pig's blood, steamed, bathed in a pork soy broth (which is subtly sweet), rolled around in peanut flour, and topped with cilantro.
The resulting savory popsicle of rice and blood is as unique in texture as it is in flavor. The sticky rice becomes semi-gelatinous when mixed with pig's blood, and becomes essentially a hybrid between rice cake and mochi, firm yet chewy. As for the flavor, the soy broth lends a deep rich pork flavor to an otherwise plain carrier of sauce, with the peanut flour lending a delightful sweetness, and the cilantro only amplifying (and complicating) it further. Truly an experience words can't replicate.