Pig's Blood Cake - Gastro Obscura
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Pig's Blood Cake

Beneath a blanket of peanut flour and cilantro, this Taiwanese street pop hides a savory surprise.

A visitor sucked into the glowing bustle of a Taiwanese night market might encounter vendors selling peanut flour–coated popsicles speckled with stems of cilantro. The unfamiliar observer may anticipate a coconut, chocolate, or red bean filling housed inside the sweet, nutty coating, but they’d be mistaken. These sticks prop up blocks filled with blood.

Vendors prepare these savory pops by mixing pig’s blood with steamed sticky rice. This creates a semi-gelatinous, cohesive texture that maintains the integrity of each grain, giving it a chewiness reminiscent of Korean rice cakes or Japanese mochi. They bathe the finished block in a pork-soy broth that adds a sweet, umami flavor, then roll it in peanut flour and finish it with cilantro (and hot sauce, on request). The finished product is a savory melding of meaty, nutty, and herbal flavors.

In recent years, the audience for these traditional Taiwanese treats has been shrinking. Younger generations are unaccustomed to eating blood products, and visitors hesitate to branch out. A word to those seeking pig’s blood cake: Get it while it’s hot—literally and figuratively.

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