Wanderfood Wednesday: Pig’s Blood Cake

Pig's Blood Cake

Pig’s Blood Cake
In pinyin: zhū xiě gāo

Exploring a country through its cuisine is one of travel’s simple pleasures, even if the food in question is something that you would never try at home. What is strange to one person is completely normal for another. Just remember that it never hurts to try something new, and you never know, you might end up being pleasantly surprised.

Living in both China and Taiwan over the past nine years has helped me get over my squeamish attitude about certain types of food. I’ve eaten some really strange things, including deep fried silk warms, deer embryo, dog, donkey balls, crispy grasshoppers, and baby quail still in the shell.

I got used to eating mystery food in China, and in 2006 when I moved to Taiwan, I thought the food would be much the same. I was pleasantly surprised to find variations of some of my favorite mainland Chinese dishes, and I had a whole new cuisine to explore.

I love the food in Taiwan, and I’m sad when I hear people who declare that the food is horrible here. I know quite a few expats who have been here for years and still think that the local 7-11 is the best place for fine dining.

Eating out in Taiwan is a real treat, but I think a lot of visitors miss the mark on Taiwanese snacking because they’re either a) out of their comfort zone, b) they don’t know how to order or c) they don’t know what they’re eating.

The delightful, but slightly ominous looking concoction above is called pig’s blood cake. It’s a traditional snack in Taiwan commonly found in hot pot.

READ:  Self-Realizations from Living Abroad: I Can Eat Anything

The most popular way to eat it, however, is steamed on a stick, and it’s a staple snack food in every night market in Taiwan. You’d be hard-pressed to enter a Taiwanese night market and not find a pig’s blood cake vendor, just be aware that this tasty treat is so well loved that the most popular vendors sell out before the dinner crowd even arrives.

As the name suggests, the main main ingredient is hot pig’s blood, which is mixed with sticky rice, pressed into cubes and steamed on a stick. Just before you eat it, you  dip it in crushed peanuts, cilantro and a spicy chili sauce.

Pig’s blood cake was recently named as one of the world’s top ten strangest foods. What do you think? Does it deserve to be on the list?

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Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

14 thoughts on “Wanderfood Wednesday: Pig’s Blood Cake

    Ashish

    (June 2, 2010 - 4:26 am)

    I love it 🙂 Aren’t they called Mi shui or something?
    .-= Ashish´s last blog ..getting filmy =-.

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:42 pm)

      Hi Ashish,

      So, you’re a fan too? I profess, it’s not one of my favorite Taiwanese snacks. I love stinky tofu though!

    Kim

    (June 2, 2010 - 7:58 am)

    I was inclined to say ‘yes – that is weird!’ but then I thought about the popular Irish breakfast black pudding. Blood’s a main ingredient there too. I never tried it myself because a) I don’t like sausages in general and b) I fall into the squeamish category I’m afraid.
    I really like this series on local food, I think it’s fascinating to learn about what other cultures’ (food) habits are. My coworkers from other countries have all been grilled (ha) to find out what their local customs and specialties are.
    What else was on that list?

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:44 pm)

      Thanks Kim! Yes, pig’s blood cake is lumped into the blood pudding category. Strange, but true. Grilled whole squid, squid mouths (or anus – I haven’t been able to figure out exactly what part of squid it is), and grilled rat are a few other strange delicacies on menus here. More to come, I promise!

    Stephanie (FoodFreeway)

    (June 2, 2010 - 4:53 pm)

    They definitely remind me of blood pudding or blood sausage – have you tried the pig’s blood cake? Great photo!

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:45 pm)

      HI Stephanie,
      Thanks for stopping by! I’ve tried Pig’s Blood Cake, but I’m not a huge fan.

    Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    (June 2, 2010 - 10:36 pm)

    I’ve tried these, and they are great!
    .-= Nancie (Ladyexpat)´s last blog .. =-.

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:46 pm)

      Nancie,

      I’ve enjoyed your posts on Korean treats. Keep ’em coming!

    Gourmantic

    (June 3, 2010 - 4:39 am)

    I think the initial reaction is to be a little squeamish but pig’s blood is used in French cuisine as well such as the boudin noir blood sausage, and that is rather tasty.
    .-= Gourmantic´s last blog ..Piadina on the Island of Murano =-.

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:47 pm)

      Gourmantic,
      I’ve never had the opportunity to try boudin noir blood sausage, but I’ll take your word for it!

    Wanderluster

    (June 3, 2010 - 12:34 pm)

    I’m looking forward to this series of foodie posts! It’s a shame that so many travelers refuse to eat things out of their comfort zones – thanks for educating us!
    .-= Wanderluster´s last blog ..Win a Briggs & Riley BRX Explore 19 Upright! =-.

      Carrie

      (June 4, 2010 - 3:48 pm)

      Wanderluster,

      Thanks for providing the inspiration! I love Wanderfood Wednesdays!

    jessiev

    (June 5, 2010 - 1:41 pm)

    i love to explore new food. i’d probably prefer to try it before i knew what it was, though. lol.
    .-= jessiev´s last blog ..Planning a Trip? Get Inspired by TravelMuse =-.

      Carrie

      (June 6, 2010 - 4:02 pm)

      Jessie,

      Now that’s the catch. I learned not to ask until I’ve tried something while I was living in China. I found that it was too easy for me to say no when I knew what I was eating. 🙂

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