Made In Taiwan | Cookbook Club


We seem to have reached a golden age of Taiwanese American cookbooks in the last few years. I can remember learning to cook in the first few years after graduating from college and not having many places to turn when trying to conjure many of the dishes from my childhood. I tried to ask my own mother, but most of her recipes fell in the grand tradition of “a little of this, a little of that:” hard to understand and harder still to replicate. And of course my limited language skills constrained me to reading recipes that were in English– of which there were very few.

It’s no coincidence that many second generation Taiwanese Americans have now come of age and are getting to share their stories, whether on TV or movie screens, in novels and memoirs, or in the form of these wonderful cookbooks. I am here for it all. I have loved watching as these stories have multiplied in their breadth and their complexity. I had already collected multiple Taiwanese American cookbooks, but they were sitting on my shelf unused. So I decided to host a cookbook club to celebrate the books and actually try the wonderful recipes inside. What is a cookbook club, you might ask? It’s a potluck, but we each make and bring a dish from the featured cookbook. We each get to try making one new recipe while getting to eat many different dishes from the book. It’s my favorite way to get to know a cookbook.

What better way to start than with Clarissa Wei and Ivy Chen’s Made in Taiwan on Lunar New Year?

Clarissa Wei is a Taiwanese American journalist living in Taiwan. She approached this book as a documentary project, selecting one representative chef/vendor/maker of each dish and documenting, testing, and refining their particular recipe for the home cook audience. I really appreciated the amount of research, history, and contextualization of the food of Taiwan throughout this book. A truly masterful project, and one I’m so grateful to now have access to.

As part of our party preparations, Alex and I visited the Saratoga Farmers Market to pick up some quince blossoms as new year’s decorations.

Joined with our Lunar New Year’s decor from San Francisco Chinatown.

I chose to make a braised trio since I love these things as appetizers with any meal but have never really made them myself. Seaweed, tofu, and eggs combine with a spice-soy braise. Pretty straightforward! The hardest part was peeling the soft boiled eggs before braising.

Alex chose to make Garlic Sliced Pork, or Suan Ni Bai Rou. The tricky part was not overcooking the pork– using a meat thermometer was very helpful for getting the temperature right!

A dessert table and a beverage corner! Featuring many Taiwanese drinks and my various beverage prints.

We tried a special pineapple-flavored Taiwan Beer. I thought it was ok, but I don’t like beer. Bobby and Jacq made so many things, including boba milk tea, which Vince is trying.


New year’s means red envelopes for the kiddos! We had fun dragon-shaped envelopes from On Waverly this year.

Bobby and Jacq were also frying up popcorn chicken and scallion pancakes in the kitchen.

Our whole big LNY/cookbook club crew! Thank you everyone for coming and participating!

Stephanie made Pineapple Shrimp with sprinkles! Yes, sprinkles is really part of the Taiwanese recipe. Vince made Sacha Beef with Water Spinach.

John made Dry-fried Green Beans. Bobby & Jacq made scallion pancakes.

Not pictured: Linda made Braised Napa Cabbage.

Candace made Pineapple Cakes. And I also had cute LNY cookies from Costco on hand, haha.

Every single dish was amazing! What a feast. We decided the next time to remind folks they shouldn’t make 12 people’s worth of food for every dish, because 12 people bringing 12-person portions is enough to feed 144 people. But what a delight. I really loved this cookbook!

Afterwards, of course we pivoted to mahjong. The girls helped us set up!

Winners all around!

So delightful. Thank you again to everyone for participating. And thank you Clarissa Wei and Ivy Chen for a wonderful cookbook. 

We’re having our third cookbook club this weekend. Email me directly if you’re interested in joining for a future gathering!

Anna Wu is a wedding and portrait photographer based in San Francisco. She compulsively documents and blogs all of her daily adventures. Follow her on instagram and view more of her professional work at