An accidental journey: sha-cha sauce and beef consumption in Tainan since 1949

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In today’s Taiwan, sha-cha sauce is an indispensable ingredient for beef hot pot and stir-fried dishes. The purpose of this paper contextualizes the history of sha-cha sauce in Tainan, the oldest city in Taiwan, and argues that sha-cha sauce, introduced by Chaoshan immigrants, has contributed to new styles and habits of beef consumption tastes and habits in the post-1949 Tainan and beyond.
This paper uses documentary materials, oral interviews and diaries to explore the relationship between beef consumption and sha-cha sauce. It begins with an historical overview of Taiwan’s beef consumption during the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). Then, it focuses on two Chaoshan business enterprises: the Bull-Head, which makes the world’s largest “canned sha-cha sauce,” and the Xiao Haozhou, a Tainan restaurant specializing in sha-cha beef hot pot. Finally, this study analyzes Xinrong Wu, a Tainan gentry whose diary entries from 1933 to 1967 documented the changing dietary habits of beef consumption among Taiwanese.
The Chaoshan migrants played an important role in introducing the sha-cha sauce to postcolonial Tainan, and this input bolstered the beef consumption among Taiwanese. The production of sha-cha provided a reliable source of income for these migrants in Tainan, and major businesses like the Bull-Head became the international brands of Taiwanese food products.
Research limitations/implications
The study, though limited to Tainan, reveals the symbiosis between popularization of sha-cha sauce and widespread beef consumption in Taiwan.
Practical implications
This study helps researchers examine the connection between Chinese migrations and food culture.
This paper is an original scholarly investigation of the relationship between food diet and Chaoshan migration in postcolonial Tainan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-116
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Transformations in Chinese Societies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 3 2018


  • Migration
  • Chaoshan
  • Sha-cha
  • Tainan


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