3. Major Hakka foods in Taiwan and Fujian


1. Ban Tiao:
(1) Made with Zailai rice. After soaking rice in water for some time, grind rice into rice milk. Add some cooking starch made of cassava. Stir to a paste. Put it in a steam plate and steam it in a wok until cooked. Let it sit until cold to become strips of Ban Tiao. It tastes tough and delicious. In southern Taiwan, Ban Tiao is called Mian Pa Ban. This is because it looks like towels.
(2) Nowadays, Ban Tiao is only dipped in boiling water rather than boiled. Ban Tiao is first cut into strips. Then put leek, green bean sprout, and Ban Tiao into a small bamboo basket. Dip the basket in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Pour the content into a bowl. Add some spices, meat, and broth. Now it’s ready to eat. Ban Tiao can be boiled or stir-fried. It is equally delicious.
(3) The Chinese New Year is when Ban is most made. There are Tian Ban, Xian Ban, Fa Ban, Caitou Ban, and fake persimmons. For weddings, Hong Ban is made. Yeast is added to Fa Ban, which is steamed after having fermented. For weddings and funerals, Ba is made. Cai Bao is made on Lantern Festival, Fa Ban and Yi Ban on Tomb-Sweeping Festival, Zongzi on Dragon Boat Festival and July 15 of lunar calendar, Ping An Xi on Moon Festival, and Ban Yuan on winter solstice. Meantime, there are other delicious rice foods made in different seasons such as Yu Ban, Nangua Ban, Mishaimu, Jiucengban, and Shui Ban. Hakka people consider Hong Ban as the most honorable, full of joy, and are used to worship God of Heaven on important celebrations or as an offering to deities as an expression of gratitude. After the worship is over, the offering is given to friends and relatives for them to share the happiness.
(4) The reason Ban food is made into different kinds of Ban products is because it is more filling and easy to preserve. Therefore, the focus of Hakka food is for food to be filling and tasty.


2. Mi Qi Ba:

Steam glutinous rice or millet until cooked. Put it in a stone mortar and pound it with a pestle. Each chunk is divided into smaller pieces before adding sesame, peanuts, red beans as stuffing. Or it can be eaten by dipping it in sesame or peanut powder. Salty stuffing such as dried radish bits and shredded pork can be used as well. As Ba is easy to make and convenient to eat, Hakka people always make it for guests to eat it as a snack on weddings, funerals, and when they are busy working in the rice paddies. It is customary for Hakka people to make Ba for guests to eat as a snack. In recent years, Ba is often made available to participants for free at political rallies, singing contests, or Moon Festival evening parties. Nowadays, people make Ba by grinding rice into milk. Then remove extra water and steam Ba until cooked. It is then put in a container can pounded with a stick. However, it doesn’t taste as good as it used to.


3. Pickled Suancai:

Another traditional Hakka food is the pickling of Xiancai in the winter. It is a kind of pickle made of leaf mustard. Leaf mustard is some kind of vegetable of large, jade green leaves. It tastes slightly bitter when cooked. It is very nutritious, capable of detoxifying and cleansing blood. People eat Chang Nian Cai over Chinese New Year. It is a dish for long-term hired hands. It is eaten over Chinese New Year for good luck, meaning fortune, good luck, and longevity. Suancai is pickled by picking grown leaf mustard from the field. Put it in the field under the sun for one to two days. After it becomes soft, take it back home. Put it on the ground separately. Each layer of leaf mustard is covered with a layer of coarse salt for several layers. People stand on the layers of salt and leaf mustard and stamp until the stalks and leaves are soft with the salt completely melting into the vegetable. Put it in a pottery or cement jar, or a large wooden tub and cover it with stones as weights. A few days later, the jar is full of fluid. The jade green leaf mustard has turned into yellow. It is now ready to eat or sell. As Suancai preserves protein, sugar, and minerals, vitamins are difficult to destroy, with a preservation rate of over 98%. The acidophilus and lactic acid generated during the pickling process inhibits the multiplication of germs, making it hard for Suancai to rot. When a human body assimilates organic acid, secretion of gastric juices is stimulated, which is good for intestines and helps digestion. Suancai is usually cooked with meat in order to eliminate the fatty taste. Meantime, Suancai is rich in fiber, which helps to lower cholesterol and neutral fat, promoting blood circulation and preventing hardening of the arteries. It is appetizing. Hakka people usually use Suancai to make soups such as Suancaidupiantang, Suancaiya, and Suancaiwuhuaroutang. Therefore, Suancai is a hometown dish Hakka people make every year. Late president Jiang Jingguo named Meigancai Fucai after tasting it to signify good fortune. In recent years, other areas such as Dapi of Yunlin and Xikou of Jiayi have also set up zones to make Suancai.


4. Persimmon cakes:

Persimmon cakes are a specialty of Beipu, Hsinchu. They are made of fresh persimmons. They are compressed and put under the sun until they become flat persimmon cakes. They have a unique taste and they can treat chronic rhinitis, mild colds, and diarrhea. The whitish crystallized powder formed naturally on the surface is called persimmon frost. It is rich in vitamins A and C, glucose, and fructose. It is good for stopping cough and removing mucus, and considered a tonic for the lungs. It has high medicinal values.


5. Orange cakes, orange sauce:
They are a specialty of Xinpu, Hsinchu. They are made using primarily oranges as the key material. They are good for stopping cough, removing mucus, increasing appetite, and improving digestion. The process of making them is complex and tedious, without adding preservatives. They are natural, safe, and reliable foods. Eating food with orange as the sauce is popular there. As orange cakes contain a lot of sugar, fewer and fewer are sold.


6. Hakka tea:
(1) Pengfeng tea:
 It is produced mainly in Beipu and Emei of Hsinchu. Due to suitable growing conditions, the quality of the tea is unusual. Each year one week before and after Grain in Ear, tea shoot sucked by a kind of small insect is made into top-grade Baihao oolong, nicknamed Eastern Beauty. As people don’t believe it can be sold for a good price, it is also named Pengfeng tea, meaning bragging.
(2) Hakka pestled tea:
 This is a unique way of drinking tea by Hakka people. It originates from the San Guo period, when Zhang Fei used it to eliminate plague. The tea is pestled with a wooden stick. Green tea and seasoning are placed in a pottery basin before they are ground into fine powder. Then soak it in water before drinking. The main ingredients include tea leaves, black rice, peanuts, popcorn, coriander leaves, spices, and salt. It has a unique taste that will make you always remember.