• The well-known local specialty of Hsinchu, ‘Hsinchu rice vermicelli’, are also called ‘Chuifen’. Before Japanese colonization of Taiwan, Hsinchu was known across the island for its strong winds that were ideal for air drying the thick and wet ‘Shuifen’. After Taiwan’s restoration, Hsinchu continued to be famous for its ability to produce the ‘fine and elastic’ Chuifen and its fame extended beyond Taiwan thanks to unique techniques and quality.

  • Rice vermicelli making techniques are quite similar across Taiwan, but Hsinchu ends up being the winner because of its 'winds'! The reason is that vice vermicelli cannot be preserved by drying without winds no matter how intense the sunlight is. Best quality rice vermicelli are air dried for just half a day. Their quality can remain satisfactory quality if they are air dried for one day, but their right quality and taste would be lost if they are air dried for more than two days or until the next day.

  • Rice vermicelli are made in the following steps. The Indica rice is washed and soaked in water until the rice grains expand and soften. The soaked rice is pressed into rice milk through a stone mill. The milk is put into bags to be drained of moisture and turned into rice dough. The dough is broken into several bun-size pieces to be 30-40% cooked. The half-cooked dough pieces are placed in a mortar for a good stir and moved to a 'rice vermicelli machine' to be pressed into long slender threads.

    Chuifen: The pressed out fine threads are steamed until fully cooked in steamers. The cooked vermicelli are gently rubbed and spread apart. Steaming is called 'Chui' in the Southern Fujian dialect, hence the name 'Chuifen' ('fen' meaning 'powder').

    Shuifen: They are usually thicker because they are the fine threads cooked in boiled water right after pressing. Cooking in boiled water is called 'Sa' in the Southern Fujian dialect. Since the cooked vermicelli need to be dipped in cold water to be rid of the stickiness, they come out of the water