Events - Food & Beverage - Destinations

Bamboo Rice: Think Global, Act Local

By Editorial Team
4 min read
bamboo rice

Is your motto, «Think global, act local»? Well, you won’t find anything more local than Bamboo Rice (zhutong fan). A delicious, succulent, nutritious cupcake made entirely from typical Taiwanese ingredients.

Taiwan Peace Memorial Day

The Taiwan Incident, also known as the 228 Incident or Massacre, occurred on February 28, 1947. It was an anti-government uprising violently suppressed by the Kuomintang government, resulting in the deaths of many civilians. This incident marked the beginning of the White Terror in Taiwan. During this period, thousands of Taiwanese disappeared, were killed, or imprisoned.

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After fifty years of Japanese rule, Taiwan was placed under the administrative control of the Republic of China by the UNRRA in 1945. The first two years of the Guomindang party administration gave the Taiwanese a very bad impression. The party was clearly suffering from nepotism and corruption, as well as being the cause of the country’s economic failures. For this reason, tensions arose between the Taiwanese and the Republic of China, resulting in an open revolt. It resulted from a clash between a cigarette seller and an anti-smuggling officer; the revolt was violently suppressed by the armed forces of the Republic of China.

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On the anniversary of the event, in 1995, President Lee Teng-hui addressed the issue for the first time. Since then, the event has been openly commemorated and discussed, although its details are still being investigated. Peace Memorial Day, therefore, was established to commemorate the event. On this day, the President of the Republic of China gathers with other officials to ring a memorial bell in honor of the victims. Bowing to the families of the victims, he hands them a certificate attesting to the innocence of the rioters. Several Taiwanese cities, including Kaohsiung and Taipei, have also established memorials and memorial parks to honor the victims of the incident.

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What is bamboo rice?

Zhutong fan (bamboo rice) is a delicious, succulent, nutritious cake made entirely from Taiwanese ingredients. It is made by stuffing thick logs of bamboo cane with glutinous rice, vegetables and wild boar meat. The cane is sealed with foil or a bamboo leaf and cooked on hot coals. The result is a tasty snack, perfect for tackling the mountains and jungles of Taiwan, or, if you’re less adventurous, enjoying a well-deserved snack on the go.

How to enjoy bamboo rice

A 30-minute bus ride from Taipei’s southernmost subway station will take you far from the urban landscape. You will find yourself in the small village of Wulai. In addition to Taiwan’s most beautiful hiking trails and hot springs, you’ll find zhutong fans along the cobblestone streets; but you can only enjoy it during the winter when the bamboo is at its ripest. No one will mind if you decide to taste it directly on the street, but it would be better to preserve it and enjoy it with millet wine during a walk in nature. Once you have found the coziest spot around the river, you can split the cane and remove the outer layer. The rice will be tasty, aromatic, held together by the inner membrane of the log. Eat it slowly, leisurely, just like the people who eat it regularly.

The origins of zhutong fan

Bamboo rice (zhutong fan) originated because of the nutritional needs of the local hunter-gatherer tribes. After all, what better way to carry your lunch with you than to fill a piece of bamboo cane with rice, meat, vegetables and then tuck it into your belt or quiver? Bamboo rice is typically made with pork, but there are some vegetarian variations that replace it with wild mushrooms. If you prefer the latter version, just say, «Wo jiu chi sude», «I only eat clean foods».

bamboo rice

Bamboo rice recipe at home

The particular type of bamboo used is found only in certain places and at certain times of the year. This is a revised version that you can do it at your home. You won’t have the special flavor that the cane gives to the rice, but you can replace it with pudding cups or rice bowls greased with a drizzle of oil.

Ingredients:

  • 800 g glutinous rice
  • 8-10 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 172 tablespoon dried shrimps
  • oil
  • 230 g ground pork
  • 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 2-3 shallots
  • boiling water
  • for garnish: chili sauce, cilantro leaves
bamboo rice

Preparing

  1. Wash the rice under running water and drain.
  2. Soak the mushrooms and shrimp in hot water and then chop them.
  3. In a hot wok, fry the meat with a little oil until golden brown. Drain excess oil and fat.
  4. Add the mushrooms, shrimp, soy sauce and shallots.
  5. Divide the mixture among the bamboo containers or whatever you have at home, and then press down on the mixture in each one with a teaspoon.
  6. Pour in the rice, pressing well, little by little, to fill all spaces. Fill each bowl up to 2/3 full.
  7. Add a flush of boiling water.
  8. Place the containers in the steamer basket. If you don’t have one, place the containers in a large pot with 2 inches of water in the bottom and close it with a lid.
  9. Cook for 30-35 minutes.
  10. You can serve either by keeping it in the bow or by unmolding the rice on a plate. Add chili sauce, and some cilantro leaves to taste.

4 min read

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