We celebrate some of our favorite Madison dishes
by
August 8, 2022
8:00 AM
Linda Falkenstein
As unassuming as this bowl of shredded chicken atop white rice is, it may be my favorite dish in Madison. It has never done me wrong. Taiwan Little Eats, 320 State St., specializes in “night market snacks” typical of its namesake city, but this entry holds up as a meal rather than just a nibble. I was curious about the dish, and Taiwan Little Eats co-owner Christine Welch translated from chef Kai Hsiang Cheng. He reports that Jiayi chicken is the most famous “little eat” from the southern city of Jiayi. There, it was originally made with turkey. “The tale goes that after World War II, there were many American soldiers in Taiwan, and they imported turkeys for meat,” Cheng says. “Taiwanese then began to raise turkeys. Because they’re larger than chickens, the price of turkey meat was quite low. People started to make turkey over rice in a similar way to the more traditional braised pork over rice.” Jiayi (pronounced “jyi-yee”) chicken was not on the original menu, but Cheng decided to add it “since it’s one of the more famous dishes in Taiwan.” He made a few changes though — to make it gluten-free, he omits soy sauce, replacing it with salt, pepper, and “natural chicken oils” that the chicken is both cooked in and sauced with. There’s also some decorative pickled daikon for contrast and the whole bowl is topped with crispy fried shallots. The flavor is simple but rich, intense and like nothing else around.
by
August 8, 2022
8:00 AM
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