Happy New Year! I had the chance to visit Taiwan again this winter break, and I come back, of course, laden with food pictures. It can't be helped. Taiwan is the land of promiscuous eating and inventive, crazy cuisine. But I thought we'd start with something traditional, soothing, and a little zen: rice porridge (or xi fan or congee or zho). It is, as you can see, simply rice cooked with an abundant amount of water. Here there is a little piece of yam added, which is cooked along with the rice. I ate this for breakfast almost everyday growing up. In our home we usually added pickled vegetables or dried shredded pork (ro song) to eat along with it. But, Taiwan being Taiwan, this particular bowl of rice porridge was accompanied by a no-holds-barred selection of xiao zhi or "little eats."
Clockwise from top: traditional egg and tomato, bamboo shoots, steamed ground pork with a steamed egg yolk on top, and garlicky green beans.
Clockwise from top: cured Chinese sausage, sauteed offal, crispy pickled cucumber, chopped mustard greens, wine soaked little clams, and wheat gluten.
But another very traditional breakfast is centered around soy bean milk - although rice porridge definitely can be included. This is probably my favorite type of Chinese breakfast, easily bought off the street in Taiwan:
Strips of dough are lined up to be deep fried into you tiao (literally "oil stick'). You can see fried flat breads on the counter
where the long line of breakfast patrons are waiting- those can be stuffed with, believe it or not, you tiao (carb loading!)
or roast beef and scallions or myriad other things.
You tiao sizzling in oil.
And all the trimmings: you tiao, steamed pork dumplings (xiao long bao), piping hot sweet soy milk - along with
one bowl of salty soy milk with you tiao and one bowl of sweet rice gruel with peanuts.
Jia Bong! That's Taiwanese for "let's eat!"