Taiwan's Popular Ice Cream Burrito Features An Unexpected Herb

Take a scoop or three of ice cream, mix in an unexpected (and occasionally divisive) herb, wrap it all up burrito-style, and you have one of Taipei's favorite street foods. Intrigued? Join the club. Chronicling her experience returning to Taiwan, where her mother was born and a place she last visited as a child, Delish writer Cathy Erway recalled a moment from a flavor-filled tour through one of Taipei's iconic night markets when she blissfully settled into taste-induced nostalgia while savoring an ice cream treat. Called ba pu, a name New York-based podcaster Grace Jung told Delish likely derives from the sound of the horn vendors honked as they sold the frozen dessert through villages in Yilan, the treat resembles an ice cream-filled crepe.

Character Media concurs, citing Yilan, a county about an hour southeast of Taipei, as the birthplace of ba pu and noting it's the sweet version of another burrito-like night market staple, run bing. Also called popiah (via Woon Heng), run bing is a savory blend of pork, cabbage, and ground peanuts wrapped up in spring roll pastry. In addition to the wrapping, the two popular night market foods share a common ingredient: peanuts. But that's not the unexpected flavoring in the Taiwanese ice cream wraps. That honor goes to cilantro.

Try it, you'll like it

This divisive herb is what gives traditional ba pu its unique flavor — and it's what keeps fans coming back for more. It's not for everyone. Let's face it: Cilantro is not just a matter of taste. There's a scientific reason some people hate it and others love it. According to Cleveland Clinic, it all comes down to genes. People who have the right — or wrong, depending on your viewpoint — gene experience cilantro as having a soap-like flavor. Those lacking the gene taste a delightfully fresh herb. Coincidentally, people of East Asian or South Asian descent are more likely than other populations to like cilantro, so it kind of makes sense that a cilantro-forward frozen dessert has roots in Taiwan. Here's the interesting part. Sampling cilantro in a positive setting, even a friendly dinner, can change naysayers' perception of cilantro over time. So, maybe ice cream could be the vehicle that turns the tide?

And, really, who could resist at least trying a dessert The Guardian describes as tart and creamy, sweet and crunchy? Imagine this: three scoops of ice cream laid out on a flour crepe, topped with fresh shavings from a peanut candy block, and sprinkled with cilantro. Vendors fold the edges of the crepe into a burrito pocket and serve it in a to-go wrap. We're in!