Learning Roots

Hello friends, please call me Maroonie and I am 19 years old.

I am from the United States, but I am currently working on connecting with my ethnic roots. My mother is an immigrant from northern Taiwan but we do not have a strong relationship due to personality differences, so she refuses to teach me about the country she came from. Does anyone have insight to share on things like common pantry stock, home cooked foods, common lifestyle, and resources to learn more? I am not sure all of what I am wanting to learn, but I was told this might be a good place to start.

Forgive my ignorance, and please be kind I am trying my best to learn

Thank you all very much,
Maroonie

Welcome aboard. Your learning experience will last a lifetime.
You can use search function on this site (magnifying glass).
For example, type “Taiwanese food” and various chat threads appear that you can peruse. Same goes for the other topics.

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I have a Made in Taiwan cookbook so if you want a recipe tell me and I’ll take a picture of the pages.

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If you live on the West Coast or one of the bigger cities on the East Coast or in Texas, or Arizona, there are a decent number of Taiwanese Americans that you might be able to get to know. If you are interested in religions, there are Christian and Buddhist organizations that make it easy to get to know people.

You could also go to Asian markets like 99 Ranch or New York Mart, and Taiwanese restaurants.

In the US, I’d say try the authentic soup dumpling (Din Tai Fung), hot pots, Taiwanese street food (such as Golden Leaf, MonJa TaiKer, Kang Kang), Taiwanese breakfast shops (such as Four Sea Restaurant), cheap Taiwanese buffet (such as Half and Half), dessert places (such as Meet Fresh, ),and bubble milktea places like TP TEA, Wushiland, The Valley and so on.

I’d say stir fried leafy vegetables is a must for Taiwanese home cooking. Soups like chicken with dried shiitake mushroom, spare ribs with daikon radish are also staples. Pan fried fish, and braised pork are popular as well.

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By the way, if you want to have one condiment that only people in Taiwan use a lot and rarely used by anyone else, this is a good place to start.

It’s supposed to be the Satay sauce commonly used in SEA cuisine, hence the Taigi name for the sauce, sa-tê, but tastes nothing like it. You can use it as a barbecue sauce, but it’s more commonly used as a dip for your hotpot, usually with soy sauce, scallions, and if you are brave, a raw egg. People also stir fry vegetables, noodles, or rice with it.

This sweet and spicy sauce can be bought at 99 Ranch. The Dragon Boat Festival is coming up, and it’s the traditional sauce to go with the glutinous rice ball dish called zongzi.

Taiwanese black vinegar, which is often added to soups, especially the kinds with starch added at the end to make it a bit thicker.

If you are up for anything, the next 2 items infamous to non-natives can be found in pretty much any Taiwanese pantry.

This one is often called pork floss. You can eat it with rice, put it on porridge, in sandwiches, buns, wraps, Taiwanese people pretty much put it in anything.

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This is called fermented tofu. People would eat it as a spread on white buns or in porridge, often together with pork floss. You can also stir fried vegetables like kangkong (the vegetable with a hollow stem) with it.

Make sure you only buy products made in Taiwan, as stuff made elsewhere, especially in China, could taste very different.

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