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Pig Blood Cake

Pig Blood Cake - Zhuxie Gao

Pig Blood Cake – Zhuxie Gao

Pig blood cake is one of two major types of blood rice cake in Taiwan. It is a traditional snack made of glutinous rice and pig blood. The other type is derived from duck.

Features and Ingredients

Pig blood is commonly used in northern Taiwan while duck blood is more widely used in the south. Pig blood cake can be steamed, boiled, deep fried or braised. The most popular is the steamed cake coated with a special sauce and peanut powder, then garnished with Chinese parsley (coriander) to make a perfect Taiwanese snack.

Origins

Blood rice cake can trace its origins to the southern part of mainland China, where rice was the staple food. It was introduced into Taiwan by emigrants from Fujian Province, who often steamed or boiled different kinds of rice-based foods. In early agricultural society, people often raised pigs, chickens and ducks to serve as ritual food offerings during traditional festivals. At other times of the year, meat was considered a luxury. Life on the whole was harsh and material resources were in severe shortage. Since duck meat was believed to strengthen one’s body, for economical and nutritional reasons, farming households saved the blood from ducks they had slaughtered and steamed it with rice. The rice was then dipped in sauces and served. This gradually became a snack for the common people and was named duck blood cake. However, raising ducks took much time, and duck meat was expensive and in short supply. Pig blood became the substitute of choice because chicken blood does not coagulate easily. Hence, blood rice cake can refer to both the pig and duck varieties.

It is believed that pig blood cake first appeared in Taiwan at a slaughterhouse in Taipei’s Dadaocheng district after World War II (1939-1945), a time when many lived in poor and harsh conditions. Believing that blood was highly nutritious, people arrived early at the slaughterhouse asking for pig blood before it was disposed of. They then steamed it into cake and served it as-is, or put it in soup. Both varieties later gained popularity when introduced on the market.

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