~ Alexandria Scott
So many people lump Taiwan and China together in their minds but Taiwan is distinct from China in so many ways. Culturally, linguistically, religiously, demographically and culinarily as well. It deserves to be recognized for the beautiful place that it is with its own distinct identity! Learn about Taiwan, and then try Ji Dan Bing, Taiwanese breakfast crepes that kids love.
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Learn about Taiwan through Books
If you’re interested in learning more about Taiwan, there aren’t many children’s books where Taiwan is the subject (wink-wink- who wants to write one?!). However Grace Lin, one of children literature’s most beloved new authors, is Taiwanese-American with both her parents hailing from Taiwan. Some of our favorite Grace Lin books are “The Ugly Vegetables,” and “Kite Flying.” and my preschooler adores the silliness of the twins Ling and Ting in the beginning reader series “Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same.” They’re a hoot! You can also learn more about Lin’s experience embracing her identity as she grew up in this great article.
Facts about Taiwan
Taiwan is a small island nation about the size of the state of Maryland with a population of about 23.5 million. In fact, Yong He, a section of the capital city of Taipei, goes between first and third place for the most densely populated place on Earth. With space at such a premium, it makes sense that full kitchens may not be an option for most people. As such the beautiful island of Formosa is overflowing with fresh, delicious, quick and inexpensive street food!
Shilin Night Market
For dinner foods, night markets are a distinct and beloved aspect of Taiwanese food culture and a great place to grab dinner. When night falls, sectioned off areas outdoors in cities light up with fast-paced, dance worthy music and vendors selling an innumerable number of dishes and other wares start lining the aisles. Shilin Night Market is arguable the most popular and well-known with over 43,000 reviews on Google reviews alone!
Often times when we explore other cultures culinary traditions, we focus on lunch, dinner and holidays- foods we might see at Shilin Night Market. Wonderful foods like mooncakes, dim sum, and dumplings are the stars of the show and while they’re delicious they may prove a little more difficult to work into a regular rotation in our households.
But what about breakfast? Breakfast is the meal of champions and because of space limitations many people living in Taiwan don’t have full kitchens- and why should they? There are plenty of incredible breakfast options, but there’s none quite as ubiquitous as a cup of warm soy milk or doujiang (豆漿) , a youtiao (油條) and a sweet, savory and sometimes spicy ji dan bing (雞蛋餅).
Think of a ji dan bing as kind of like a cross between a breakfast burrito, an egg sandwich and a pancake rolled into one… which are all amazing so who wouldn’t want to try this out for size? This is also an ideal recipe for kids as most kids love pancakes and eggs, so even your pickiest eater may give this a go.
Ji Dan Bing 雞蛋餅 Recipe
There’s three parts to this recipe: the crepe or pancake, the egg and the sauce. If you’re running short on time you can head to your nearest Asian market and purchase the crepes in the refrigerated section.
Crepe/Pancake (Ji Dan Bing)
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 2 TBSP cornstarch
- 1 cup water
- 3 eggs
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp white or black pepper
- Quick dash of sesame oil
- 2 chopped scallions
- 2 TBSP soy sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- Chili oil and sesame oil to taste (no worries if a little spiciness isn’t your kids thing. Just omit the chili oil)
- ¼ tsp crushed garlic
Making the Ji Dan Bing
Mix together crepe ingredients until well combined and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat a lightly oiled pan on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add about ½ cup of the batter. Move the pan about to make sure that the batter coats the whole bottom of the pan. Cook the crepe for about 4 minutes or until the top is about set.
While the Ji Dan Bing is cooking, mix the egg ingredients together. Once the top of the crepe is about set, try your luck at tossing the crepe up in the air to flip it or slide it onto a plate and back on the pan. Afterwards, pour some of the egg mixture on the crepe and swirl it so that it covers almost the whole pancake. Don’t do too much or it won’t cook! Once the egg is about set, flip it to the other side and let it cook face down for 10-15 seconds before sliding it off the pan and onto a cutting board. Roll it up with the crepe on the outside and the egg on the inside and slice it into bite sized pieces.
Mix up your sauce for dipping, grab a pair of chopsticks, a cup of warm soy milk, some fresh mango and enjoy this quick breakfast! Share a picture of your tasty creation with Kid World Citizen and enjoy this simple way to share learning about Taiwan!
Alexandria is a writer, educator and community advocate who helps readers better connect students and educators as well as children and parents to access and internalize multicultural and anti-bias education.