Taiwan’s chef creates pineapple dishes to support farmers - GulfToday

Taiwan’s chef creates pineapple dishes to support farmers

A sweet and sour pineapple beef noodle. AP

Gulf Today Report

Taipei chef Hung Ching Lung created a classic pineapple beef noodle soup at his restaurant, Chef Hung, in what he says is a modest attempt to support Taiwanese pineapple farmers.

The spiky fruit became a politically charged symbol after China banned the import of Taiwan's pineapples on March 1, citing pests. In response, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen kicked off a social media challenge called "Eat Taiwan's pineapples until you burst," calling on people to support the island's farmers.

The campaign has kicked off a pineapple media frenzy, as Taiwanese politicians sought to demonstrate their support for farmers as well as Taiwanese agriculture. Politicians from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Nationalist Party flocked to farms to post pictures with pineapples.


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Restaurateurs like Hung rushed to make pineapple-infused dishes. Pineapple shrimp balls, a betel nut pineapple salad and classics like fried rice with pineapple are just some of the dishes being pushed out by restaurants and hotels on the island.

Taiwan food 3 Chef Hung speaks during an interview. AP

Hung said he and his team spent three days testing ways to incorporate pineapple into beef noodles. It took about 10 attempts.

"The first time we tested it when we cooked it in the soup, it was very sweet, it was inedible and tasted completely of pineapple," he said. The successful attempt was based on separating the juice from the fruit during cooking, which removed the sweetness that would otherwise overpower the beef flavour.

China denies its move to ban Taiwanese pineapples, according to AP.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called the move one that "flies in the face of rules-based, free and fair trade.”

Despite the hubbub, the pineapple ban may not drastically impact Taiwanese farmers.

Taiwan food 2 Chef Hung shows his pineapple beef noodle dish. AP

A day after the ban was enacted, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang told local media that the amount purchased by domestic businesses and citizens exceeded the amount that would have been sold to China. The government also promised subsidies worth 1 billion New Taiwan dollars ($35 million) to help out farmers.

The government said it has also received orders from Japan, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam and Middle Eastern countries.

Annually, Taiwan produces about 420,000 metric tons of pineapples, 90% of which are sold on the island itself, according to the Council of Agriculture. Some 10% of that annual production is sold abroad, and China makes up the vast majority of those purchases.

"We are all trying to find a way to help the farmers,” said Alice Tsai, who stopped in Hung's restaurant on Wednesday to try noodles that she said were surprisingly tasty.

"The other day I went to the supermarket and found that all the pineapples were sold out, and I felt very touched," she said. "Everyone has this feeling of solidarity.”

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