This Taiwanese specialty called Ro Gung seems to be a lesser known dish as I couldn’t find anything in my google search. (Does anyone know if this is known by another name?) The gist of this soup is that it’s a cornstarch thickened soup with soft pork and fish paste dumplings… ok blobs. That probably doesn’t sound enticing to those that don’t already know it (though I can hear my Taiwanese peeps cheering). On top of that, it’s not an attractive dish. (That cilantro garnish was my only hope for color.)  What it is, is delicious! Seriously, one of my favorite foods! And for food geeks, it is a flavor profile that is unique to Taiwanese food.

Taiwanese Ro Gung with Title


This soul-warming soup is a magical combination of flavors from fresh daikon, fresh bamboo, dried shitake mushrooms, worcestershire sauce, and the unmistakable and lovable aroma of fried garlic. It actually sounds kinds of bizarre and maybe even medicinal. I assure you; it is not.

daikon and fresh bamboofried garlic

The soup base is made extra thick (very characteristic of Taiwanese cooking) and then pork and fish paste blobs are added. They cook almost instantly, forming soft puffy little clouds. I admit, the whole thing is still strange looking. Again though, super duper deliciousness!

There is an equally popular variation of this dish made with squid instead of pork but it is harder to get the fish paste to stick to the squid and so sometimes the fish paste is omitted altogether. All versions are heavenly and I’m really just giddy about sharing this with you.

Taiwanese Ro Gung
~10 to 12 servings

  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 7 to 8 oz piece fresh bamboo shoot
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1.5 pounds fish paste
  • 3 tablespoons fried garlic, divided
  • 9 oz julienne daikon
  • 1 pound pork strips
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • chopped cilantro (Chinese people usually include stems) for garnish (optional)
  • steamed rice to serve (optional)

Instructions –

1. Soak the shitake mushrooms in a small bowl of warm water until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain, squeeze out extra liquid, and thinly slice. Set aside.

2. Peel and slice bamboo into very thin strips. Set aside.

peeling fresh bamboo 6
peeling fresh bamboo 2
fresh bamboo
bamboo shoots 2

3. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch with 5 tablespoons water. This forms a slurry. Set aside.

4. Bring 3 1/2 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot.

5. While water is heating, Stir up the fish paste. It should be sticky. Stir in 1 tablespoons of fried garlic. Set aside.

6. When water is boiling, add the daikon and allow to simmer until soft, about 10 minutes.


7. While daikon is cooking, stir pork into fish paste mixture. Set aside.

pork and shrimp paste pork strips with shrimp paste

8. When the daikon is soft, add 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce, sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt and stir. Maintain a simmer and add the slurry in a steady stream while stirring.

9. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of fried garlic, sliced mushroom, and bamboo strips. Bring back to a boil.

making ro gung 4

10. Reduce to a simmer and drop strips of pork coated in fish paste one by one into the pot. (It’s easiest to pull out strip by strip with chopsticks.) If you have an remaining fish paste, just drop teaspoon size blobs into the pot until you’ve used it all up. (That’s my beautiful mama!)

mom making ro gung

11. Stir in sesame oil and white pepper.

12. Taste and adjust. The concentration will vary depending on how fast your water is boiling off. You may need to add a bit of water. You may need to add up to 2 tablespoons more Worcestershire and 1 tablespoon of salt. Add a little at a time and taste.

13. Garnish each bowl with cilantro and serve.

Taiwanese Ro Gung 7

Some people (like me) like to stir rice into it too.

Ro Gung with Rice

posted by jessica at 04:33 PM Filed under Chinese, Recipes. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.