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.
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?