Taiwanese Meatball, known in Chinese as bawan (肉圓), is a traditional Taiwanese dish consisting of a dumpling filled with meat, mushrooms and bamboo shoots.

The dough is made from rice starch and sweet potato starch, which gives it a translucent and slightly gelatinous texture after being cooked. This dish is appreciated for its contrast of textures and flavors, combining the softness of the dough with the rich and tasty flavor of the filling.

The origin of bawan can be traced back to the Changhua region in the western part of Taiwan, where it is considered an iconic dish. Over time, its popularity has spread throughout the country, and each region can have its own variation in ingredients and preparation methods.

It is generally served hot and can be presented in several ways, depending on the region and the style of the seller:

  1. Fried or Steamed: Although it was originally steamed, nowadays it is also common to find fried bawan, which gives it a crispy outer layer.
  2. With sauce: served dipped in a special sauce that may include a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, garlic, vinegar and sometimes chili peppers. The sauce can be thick and rich, adding an extra dimension of flavor to the dish.

To enjoy this dish, you generally use a spoon to cut the dumpling and scoop out portions of the filling and dough along with the sauce. The gelatinous texture of the dough and the umami flavor of the filling make each bite a delicious experience.

Bawan has a long history in Taiwanese cuisine and has evolved over time. There are different regional versions:

  1. Changhua Bawan: The most traditional version, with a filling of pork, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms, steamed.
  2. Hsinchu Bawan: With a slightly different dough texture and sometimes with additional fillings such as shrimp.
  3. Fried Bawan: Common in night markets, where the dumpling is fried until crispy on the outside.

Basic recipe for Bawan


  • For the mass:
    • 200 g rice starch
    • 100 g sweet potato starch
    • Agua
  • For the filling:
    • 200 g minced pork
    • 50 g shiitake mushrooms (rehydrated and chopped)
    • 50 g bamboo shoots (chopped)
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon sugar
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the sauce:
    • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
    • 1 spoon of sugar
    • 1 clove of garlic (chopped)
    • 1 tablespoon vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  1. Prepare the dough:
    • Mix the rice and sweet potato starches with water until you get a thick, homogeneous paste.
  2. Prepare the filling:
    • In a bowl, mix the minced pork, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, soy sauce, sugar, salt and pepper.
  3. Form the dough balls:
    • Take a portion of the dough, flatten it and place a spoonful of the filling in the center. Then, wrap the filling with the dough, forming a ball.
  4. Cook:
    • Steam the dumplings for about 15-20 minutes or until the dough is translucent and cooked through.
    • If you prefer the fried version, steam fry the dumplings in hot oil until crispy on the outside.
  5. Prepare the sauce:
    • Mix all the sauce ingredients in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the sauce thickens.
  6. Serve:
    • Serve the bawan hot, dipped in the sauce.

Enjoy this authentic Taiwanese delicacy!

Source: https://reporteasia.com/cultura/cocina-asiatica/2024/05/30/bawan-manjar-taiwanes-vale-pena-probar/

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