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Taiwan! What is that funky flavor?!

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I'm currently in Taiwan and I have a question for those of you who have not done the typical 3 day business trip/expense/account/din tai fung circle in Taipei.

I've been eating quite a lot of local food (street vendors and home cooking with my new Taiwanese mother in law) and I have noticed a very distinct recurrent Taiwanese flavor which appears in about 90% of the non-tourist foods.

I can't quite pinpoint it, and it's driving me batty. It's a kind of sweet, funky, peppery taste which appears in everything from the stewed chicken parts to the sausages to the tea eggs. You can smell it immediately upon walking into any random 7-11 or Family Mart.

It's not a bad flavor or anything, but it does get tiring to my palate to taste this flavor nearly every time I snack on something.

Thanks!

Mr Taster
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  1. I guessing dark soy sauce, which is widely used in Southern Fujian and also Taiwan.

    1. I believe it is a combo of rock sugar, star anise and soy sauce.

      1. I know what you're saying, but I could never put my finger on it. Maybe sweet pork product or something.