Tuesday, April 1, 2008
I've talked about yóu tiáo before. These Chinese style crullers are solely responsible for making my childhood deliciously greasy and thus memorable. I would gladly get out of a warm bed at 6 in the morning to pick up a bag of these from a street vendor. Sadly, this doesn't exist in the U.S. At least, not freshly-fried ones, and no street food hawkers that early in the morning. In the meantime, I'll settle for some donuts.
I like mine dipped in hot, sweet soymilk. Others in my family like plain soymilk and congee. The one thing we can all agree on is that the yóu tiáo must be crispy, fluffy in the center, and hot hot hot. A breakfast of yóu tiáo and spicy pickled cold dishes is a must every time I visit my grandparents. Families very rarely make these at home anymore; the process is simply too time-consuming and all around greasy for the home kitchen. Besides, freshly-fried, made to order ones can be found in small diners and with street vendors every morning for about 5 cents apiece.
You can find packaged frozen you tiao in most Asian grocery stores, but their taste and texture leave much to be desired. Nothing beats a freshly-fried cruller, to be consumed on the spot. No room for leftovers here!
Chinese Crullers - You Tiao
from Chinese Snacks
3 cups bread flour
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
oil for frying
1. Stir together baking powder, soda and salt with the water. Add flour and mix well. Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Knead the dough until it comes together and becomes smooth and elastic. Turn the dough over and lightly coat the surface with oil. Let stand for 1 hour.
2. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a rectangular shape. Cut the dough into 1 1/2 lb. rectangular pieces and wrap each in plastic. Let stand for 4 hours.
3. Roll the dough out into a long rectangle, 3" wide and 1/16" thick. Cut crosswise into strips of 1/3" wide. Put two strips on top of each other, and with the back of a knife, gently press down lengthwise in the middle of the strip to attach them together. Do the same for the remaining strips.
4. Heat the oil for deep frying. Holding onto the ends of each strip, gently stretch out the dough into a long strip, a little over a foot in length. Repeat this process for the other strips. Drop into the hot oil. Turn the dough with chopsticks continuously until the cruller expands and turns golden brown. Remove and cool on paper towels. Serve immediately.