Difference between Taiwanese and Chinese Food

Key Difference: While both Taiwanese and Chinese Food have their own individual natures, there is also a lot of crossover. They have their own version of sun cake and bao bing. However, while Taiwanese Food is heavier on seafood, Chinese Food uses pork and beef.

The confusion between Taiwanese and Chinese Food arises from the confusion between Taiwan and China. In fact, many people consider Taiwanese food as a segment of Chinese food because China (officially called the People’s Republic of China (PRC)) claim that the island of Taiwan is part of their country. Whereas, the Taiwanese claim independence and call themselves the Republic of China (ROC).

The entire situation is confusing, and made even more complicated by both local and world politics. Some countries recognize Taiwan as an independent country, however many do not want to aggravate China and so they side with them. Hence, Taiwanese Food is sometimes considered as a segment of Chinese Food, and sometimes as its own independent cuisine.

However, due to their long and turbulent history, Taiwanese Food is highly influenced by Chinese cuisine. This is further helped by the fact that historically Taiwan has been part of mainland China and that majority of its settlers were and are Chinese descendents. In addition to Chinese Food, Taiwanese Food is also influenced by Japanese cuisine, due to the time that it was under Japanese rule.

Another complication in differentiating Taiwanese and Chinese Food is that there is no such thing as Chinese Food, rather there are too many different types of food encompassed under the headline of Chinese Food. There is typically eight difference types of cuisines under Chinese food: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang cuisines. Sometimes people also club Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian, and Indian and American Chinese Foods under Chinese cuisines. Whereas, there are some that consider any dish including rice, noodles, and sauces such as soy sauce as ‘Chinese food’.  

As Taiwan is an island, its cuisine incorporates seafood a lot, most commonly oysters, which have became mainstay is some of its signature dishes, such as oyster omelettes, fried oysters, oyster pancake, and oyster vermicelli. In addition to oysters, Taiwanese food also incorporates bean curd, seaweed, bean sprouts and salted peanuts. Taiwanese food also tends to have lots of different broths, which tend to have bold flavors that are heavy on the soy sauce and saltiness. However, majority of Taiwanese food tends to also be sweet, at least sweeter than Chinese Food.

Taiwanese cuisine also claims credit for inventing Bubble tea, i.e tea that includes tapioca balls, and ba-wan, which is a disk-shaped, nearly translucent meat sphere. It also known for creating bao bing, which is a dessert of shaved ice with toppings. Taiwanese cuisine is world famous for its beef noodle soup, which is its signature dish, In fact, there is an annual Beef Noodle Festival help in Taipei to see who make the best batch.

The staple of Chinese Food include rice, noodles, and tofu made from soybeans. Chinese cuisine is also famous for its sauces and condiments; the most famous being soy sauce. In addition to soybean tofu and soy sauce, soy milk, soy paste, and soy oil are also commonly used, marking the regions dependence on soy.

Northern Chinese Cuisine also uses wheat as a staple, which a lot of people don’t think of when they think Chinese Food. Chinese cuisine, overall, also uses a lot of vegetables such as Chinese leaves, bok choy, Chinese spinach, on choy, yu choy, bitter melon, and Chinese broccoli, as well as bean sprouts, pea vine tips, watercress, celery, carrots, fresh mustard greens, and now western broccoli. These vegetables are also often pickled for seasons when they are not available, however, pickles vegetables have now become a specialty of Chinese cuisine. Chinese food is also often accompanied with tea or is ended with tea paired with fresh fruit or desserts, such as Egg custard tarts or moon cakes.

While both Taiwanese and Chinese Food have their own individual natures, there is also a lot of crossover. They have their own version of sun cake and bao bing. Both also use rice, noodles, and vegetables as their staples. However, while Taiwanese Food is heavier on seafood, Chinese Food uses pork and beef. Their Peking duck is also famous worldwide.

Comparison between Taiwanese and Chinese Food:

 

Taiwanese Food

Chinese Food

Country of origin

Taiwan

Mainland China

Incorporates

Primarily Taiwanese food, i.e. food found on the island of Taiwan

8 difference types of cuisines: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Szechuan, and Zhejiang cuisines.

Influences

Chinese cuisine, specifically cuisine of Fujian province, and Japanese cuisine

Few external influences, primarily regional differences

Defining features

Lots of broths, seafood, noodles, bold flavors and a wide range of textures. Bubble tea, ba-wan, and Bao bing originated in Taiwan. Beef noodle soup is widely popular, as is Oyster omelettes and extra stinky tofu that have been adapted.

The staple foods of Chinese cooking include rice, noodles, vegetables, and sauces and seasonings.

Sweetness

Condiments and sauces used in Taiwanese cuisine tend to be significantly sweeter. They also use more sugar in their cooking.

Condiments and sauces used in Chinese food tend to be more sour, salty, and acidic in comparison.

Spicy

Food is not that spicy.

Not all food is spicy, food from the Sichuan province is famous for its spiciness.

Image Courtesy: chinahighlights.com, travel.cnn.com

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