Raise your hand if you like sushi or sticky rice. If you have a hand up, I can bet that you’d love fan tuan* (飯糰）. Eh? What’s that?
Fan tuan is a breakfast food that is at its simplest, constructed of large air-pocketed deep fried dough (you tiao) and fluffy fried pork bits (less appetizingly named pork floss or pork sung) that are wrapped up in a big bundle of sticky rice. Those are the mere basics, and often times it will also include salted radishes and pickled mustard greens, or whatever the chef deems as additional savory toppings. Fan tuan is most commonly savory, especially the ones I had in Taiwan, though my mom would always tell me that it also came in a sweet version: sticky rice, you tiao, crushed peanuts, and sugar.
I am a sucker for sticky rice in all its forms: nian gao, tang yuan, yuan zi, etc etc, so it is no surprise that I love fan tuan, which involves a good deal of sticky rice.
I have fond memories of fan tuan in Taiwan- my first visit to Taiwan in 2005 was a high school graduation gift from my grandma. We were walking by a park, and there was a vendor hanging out there. I ordered a fan tuan and tea for breakfast (that had me stuffed for several hours afterwards!)
Not fan tuan that I made, but a Taiwan-made fan tuan from my 2011 trip
Welcome to Part IV of the Taiwan Eats series, where I documented good eats during our 2014 trip to Taiwan! Click for Part I, Part II, Part IIIa, Part IIIb, and Part V.
After Hualien, we took the TRA (台鐵) to Yilan, then transferred to get to Jiaoxi. This was a mistake..we should have just taken it all the way to Jiaoxi where we were staying at Ataya Xiang Bed and Breakfast (which is more of a guest house, or 名宿), but I didn’t research well enough for that part. Oh well! It wasn’t too bad to get off one train, then get back on another one 😉
We got to Ataya Xiang in the afternoon, and after dropping our luggage off and having some iced tea and fruit (provided by Ah Tu @ Ataya), we went to Luodong Night Market to find some grub.
A note on Yilan before we start: Yilan is known for their amazingly scallions, better known as san xing cong, or 三星葱, and these things are spicy! Have you ever teared up while eating scallions? You may very well experience that for the first time when you go to Yilan, like I did! Anyway, due to the freshness and availability of these san xing cong, be on the lookout for scallions in all the food here. Our strategy was to get as many scallion-filled foods as possible.
Luodong Night Market
Intersection of 公園路 and 民生路 (Gongyuan Rd and Minsheng Rd)- 5 minutes from the Luodong train station
General comments: This rates as one of my top 3 favorite night markets out of the 7 we visited during our time in Taiwan.
We liked everything we got, and loved most things!
Mini 肉圓- 6 types of protein, wrapped with a rice flour dough. These are steamed and served with a brown sauce. The fillings we got were shrimp, pork, and squid (I think). We couldn’t distinguish too clearly between the different fillings..
Aborigine mountain pork sausages and skewers of scallions in bacon- The sausages were really hearty, not too sweet, and had the lovely grilled taste. As at all sausage vendors, these were accompanied with pungent garlic cloves (have a friend hold the sausages, while you peel the garlic). There were also grilled skewers of san xing cong wrapped in mountain pork bacon, then lightly brushed with a sauce. AMAZING. The scallions were so spicy and delicious, and made my eyes water! These skewers were far superior to these same types of skewers that we had elsewhere. Good produce makes a huge difference.