One of the most signature traits of Taiwanese cuisine is that the dishes don’t particularly look pretty or appetizing - despite their often heavenly taste. The Taiwanese vermicelli, or “mī-sòa” in local utterance, is a popular dish for all Taiwanese, while the toppings for Taiwanese vermicelli varies greatly depends on the fishing or farming speciality of different areas. Usually, it serves as a comfort snack between-meals for locals, either during a lazy afternoon or late night after a long day of work. For some foreigners however, many are shook at the sight of mī-sòa, especially when heard about what is provided as its ingredients.
The base of Taiwanese Vermicelli - also called “mī-sòa” or Misua - originated from Fujian, China as a variety of salted noodles made from wheat flour. Tracing back to our immigration history from Fujian in 17th century, “mī-sòa” traditionally carries the symbol of long life and is eaten at important festivals as birthday food to wish for longevity and prosperity in general. In order to thicken the texture, potato starch is also used during cooking, making the dish to appear like some kind of sticky soup. The most popular toppings of vermicelli in Taiwan include oysters, pork hocks, fish, mushrooms and pig's large intestine - so it is understandable why it often scares off foreigners. At last, vegetables such as coriander and parsley are sprinkled on top to add a bit of extra flavor - sometimes a bit too much for coriander-haters!
While we serve the Taiwanese vermicelli with pork intestines to those who would like to challenge their appetite for exotic and crazy food - we don’t want others to feel left out. That’s right, even if you would like to skip the intestines, there is also something on the side for you to try out. Habitually served with “mī-sòa” in Taiwan is our very own oden/olen. Originally a one-pot dish invented in Japan, oden was brought over to Taiwan during the Japanese colonization in Taiwan from 1895 to 1945. Different from its Japanese roots however, the concept of oden was later developed and fused with “Tempura” and became “Olen/Tianbula” in their own Taiwanese style, which is used to describe a specific type of snack that is made up by fish cakes, rice blood puddings and meatballs, with special sauce dressing on the top. You might notice the more fancy Japanese styled oden, called Guan-dong-zhu/Kanto-daki available in convenience stores - but nothing beats a plate of good old Taiwanese olen on a chilly afternoon!
With two dish of different origins now combined perfectly as a typical local snack, this is the magic of Taiwanese development through history and our love for food. Finally, do your best to enjoy Taiwanese vermicelli and oden - “mī-sòa” and “olen” - and don’t forget the phrase of truth that applies to almost all Taiwanese cuisine: The crazier some food seems to foreigners, the more appetizing it is to us locals!
Taipei Food Tour丨Taste All Kinds of Taiwanese Signature Dish in One Single Tour
Traveling in Taiwan? Why not have a lunch with us!
At the fifth stop of our Food Tour, Like It Formosa brings you one of the notorious dish - Taiwanese vermicelli, or “mī-sòa” in local utterance. The vermicelli is served with intestines and the optional coriander. Don't forget to add some black vinegar in order to experience the soul of this authentic street food!
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