I am so incredibly thrilled to finally announce that my cookbook, Made in Taiwan: Recipes and Stories from the Island Nation, is now available for pre-order! It will be in bookstores throughout the United States on September 19, 2023.
The link is here. Currently, you can order it on Amazon, Bookshop, Indiebound, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million.
The book celebrates the island nation’s unique culinary identity—despite a refusal by the Chinese government to recognize its sovereignty. With over 100 recipes and deeply researched essays, you’ll learn how to make stinky tofu from scratch, how U.S. aid changed Taiwan’s food scene, and get broth tips from a five-time award-winning beef noodle soup master.
I’ve spent the last two years knee-deep in this project alongside my collaborator and recipe developer Ivy Chen (who has been teaching Taiwanese cuisine for over two decades; she holds cooking classes in Taipei FYI), traveling around the island and interviewing chefs and home cooks from all walks of life.
Coincidentally, both of our families hail from the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan and have been in Taiwan for more than 200 years. But whereas my perspective of Taiwan is shaped mostly by my time in the cities, Ivy grew up in the countryside. We’re also from two completely different generations, which—I feel—gives our book a unique edge.
This project is a culmination of both of our experiences, as a Taiwanese American journalist in Taipei and as a Taiwanese cooking teacher with decades of experience.
Pre-ordering signals to the publisher that there is demand for a book like this and helps them determine how many books to print. It’s one of the best ways to directly support authors (me and Ivy!) and independent booksellers (to do this, order directly from Bookshop or Indiebound).
If you’re enthused about this book, please share this email or this link with as many people as possible.
WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK DIFFERENT?
This cookbook was shot, written, and researched entirely in Taiwan by an all-Taiwanese team. And for the first time ever, here is a cookbook that argues that Taiwanese cuisine stands on its own. It is not a subset of Chinese cuisine.
I had the distinct pleasure of working with a Tainan-based food photography studio somefood & something else on the entire book. The stylist, Yen Wei, drew from her gorgeous collection of antique props and dishware acquired over the years. We were also loaned invaluable pieces from the Museum of Old Taiwan Tiles and the Taiwan Dish and Bowl Museum for our photo shoot. I’ve sprinkled notes throughout the book on the backstories of the props and dishware.
I also hired a part-time researcher (Wu Xin-Yun), who spent a year combing through local Taiwanese books on food and culture and helped me schedule interviews with food scholars and esteemed chefs throughout the country. In the course of this year, I found there are a lot of misconceptions swirling around Taiwanese cuisine (i.e. origins of beef noodle soup, protein content in Taiwanese wheat flour, where the term tangzhong comes from, the difference between sweet potato and tapioca starch, and the actual history of tapioca pearls). All of these points are covered in the book.
TELL ME ABOUT THE FOOD
Yes! Of course, there are all the buzzy dishes like beef noodle soup, three-cup chicken, tapioca pearl milk tea, and gua bao. But I also made a concerted effort to highlight and frontload older (and arguably more classic) dishes like crystal meatball (肉圓 bah uân), savory rice pudding (碗粿 uánn kué), braised minced pork belly, and mung bean mooncake. I also managed to make my life and Ivy’s life very difficult because I insisted that for all the rice-based dishes, we include two ways to make the dish: with rice flour and with raw rice kernels.
We also have a handful of recipes collected directly from home cooks and chefs in Taiwan (including Hakka and indigenous Taiwanese dishes). All recipes have been tested and developed with the average American kitchen in mind.
WILL YOU DO A U.S. BOOK TOUR & SIGN COPIES?
Eventually, yes! Even though I’m based in Taiwan, the U.S. will always still be my home. It’s still early days, but if you have an event or collaboration in mind, please email me.
Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll continue to update this Substack with tidbits on Taiwanese cuisine and culture and behind-the-scene book details.
Stay tuned! 🇹🇼
For some fun listening, check out this retro Taiwanese song literally titled “Made in Taiwan.”
ADVANCED COPY REVIEWS
“This is the story of a culture, a people, a community, a destiny, and an identity, told through recipes . . . alongside some of the best writing on the subject of all things Taiwanese. With Made in Taiwan, Clarissa Wei has created a true rarity: a deep dive that serves us on so many levels. Take a long swim in the superb food, clarity of exposition, exemplary storytelling, and inspiring insight. This book is a must-have for any home cook, food lover, culture geek, or curious reader.” —Andrew Zimmern, TV host
“Made in Taiwan is a tour de force. Clarissa Wei’s storytelling and photography are dazzling, her recipes irresistible. This magnificent, heartfelt book is essential to any Asian culinary library.” —Grace Young, author of Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and The Breath of a Wok
“With the same curiosity and rigor that has permeated her work as a food writer and journalist, Clarissa Wei’s Made in Taiwan is a timely and deeply engrossing account of Taiwanese culinary and cultural history. As gorgeous as it is thorough, it’s the most affordable trip to Taiwan you can buy!” —Stephen Satterfield, founder of Whetstone Media, host of Netflix's High on the Hog
“Clarissa has artfully woven food reporting with heartfelt storytelling, creating a truly special book on an important topic. In Made in Taiwan, she has given us the Taiwanese story to ponder, savor, and, ultimately, experience through cooking.” —Betty Liu, author of My Shanghai
“This book is a timely, joyful rewriting of the Taiwanese story, at a time when this island’s very identity hangs in the balance. Clarissa’s fascinating journalistic insights are matched by her great efforts to deconstruct recipes passed down through generations. It’s a book that I’ll keep on my kitchen shelf and look forward to referring to many, many times over the years.” —Isobel Yeung, VICE News correspondent
“To read Clarissa's work is to feel her passion, her deeply rooted identity as a Taiwanese and Asian American, and her commitment to honoring the labor and culture of the people who feed us.” —Jenny Yang, stand-up comedian and actor
Milk Tea yummy...
Looking forward to the book! Hopefully we get proper pricing in the UK for the eBook version. It's $20 in the USA but £24 (= $29) for the Kindle version in the UK which is more than what 20% sales tax here would account for.