Food Ingredients

This page will cover any controversial or questionable ingredients.

Jelly, Gelatine and Alternatives

Jelly is very popular in Taiwan, and they can be found at most convenience stores, often with whole pieces of fruit in them (and a lot of added sugar!). Most jellies are made from agar agar (translated as "seaweed extract") and not gelatine, but of course it's always a good idea to check. A common night market food is a kind of jelly-gone-drink (often with limes) called aiyu, and is made from the seeds of a type of fig.

Aiyu jelly is made from these seeds, shown here in a display at a drinks stall in Gong Guan, Taipei.
Gelatine = 明膠 (ming2 jiao1) also possibly 動物膠 (dong4 wu4 jiao1, literally 'animal glue')

Western-style sweets such as jellybeans are usually still made with gelatine, especially if they are imported. On a side note, beware that Jelly Belly jelly beans do not contain gelatine, but they do contain shellac (ground insects).

Many desserts, especially popular at night markets, contain various types of jellied fruits. They are commonly sold at vegetarian restaurants and stalls, and I've never heard any reason to suspect they might contain gelatin. I would guess they would be made with pectin or possibly agar agar.

Sweetened drinks, commonly made with green tea, fruit juices and more sugar than you want to think about are enormously popular, especially with young crowds during summer, and stalls be found all over Taiwan. The most famous of which is 'pearl milk tea' (which obviously contains milk) but many delicious fruit varieties are available. The 'pearls' are generally made with tapioca starch, but beware that the blended ice drinks sometimes contain a squirt of ice cream, so it's best to tell then you can't drink milk and watch when they make them.

1 comment:

  1. Uhm, shellac is not made from ground up insects, it's a resin excreted by beetles:
    So from a productions viewpoint, it's more similar to honey than to carmine (red food dye actually made from insects).