Youtiao Recipe

Why it works

  • A healthy amount of baking powder provides the pastry with ample lift and puffs.
  • Full development of gluten promotes maximum extensibility.
  • Butter and eggs add richness, flavor and tenderness without compromising the structure or handling of the dough.
  • Resting for a long time relaxes the gluten and allows it to be spread easily and evenly.
  • Quick and even frying in hot oil promotes vigorous swelling and gives a crisp appearance.

As you step into the dim sum restaurant, you may come across a version of Youtiao. These airy golden fried dough, roughly translated as “oil strips” in Mandarin, correspond to delicious donuts and churros. Youtiao is often eaten for breakfast with porridge in China, but youtiao is also found in other Southeast Asian dishes, from Cambodia to Laos to the Philippines and Thailand, but pastry is known by another name.

In Cantonese, Youtiao is more commonly called “Yue Fei”, which means “fried devil”. Why is it a pathological name? According to folklore, it was an act of protesting the Song dynasty’s official, Qin Hui. Befitting Song, he clashed with the enemy’s Jin dynasty and forged Yue Fei, a respected general and war hero, for treason. Two street vendors have created pastries. One vendor carved two miniature figures from the fabric, one with a blade for Qin Hui and the other for his wife Madam One. Another vendor sandwiched the figure. Back to back, then threw them into a pot of hot oil. When the dough was cooked, the seller shouted, “Fried quay!”

The best Youtiao features a golden, well-bulged exterior and a bright, airy interior. The outside should be crispy and the inside should be soft and fluffy. Traditionally, Chinese cooks use many special ingredients to produce these qualities. For example, according to Chinese Cooking Demystified, dried squid bone is used as a source of calcium carbonate, which is thought to promote swelling, delay browning and enable crispy products. Other ingredients include Chinese ammonium powder, a combination of baking soda and ammonium carbonate, and old-fashioned leaven known for creating a crispy texture in crackers and other baked goods.

I have tried both of these methods. And they produced a decent Youtiao, but in return it turned out that it wasn’t worth the cost and hassle of tracking the material. For one thing, if you don’t live in China, procuring dried squid bones is quite difficult. Also, the built-in process is not seamless as it is not completely soluble in water. Second, the pungent and pungent odor of ammonium carbonate persists if not completely cooked. The odor can be distracting (or you will not be able to eat the pastry altogether) if overused.

In terms of accessibility and simplicity, we have found that a healthy proportion of baking powder works as well to provide its airy texture. By maximizing the development of gluten to provide the structure, we were able to maximize the expansion capacity of the dough when fried, so we should knead it extensively in advance to fully develop the gluten. I made it. I also incorporated eggs to bring abundance and a little more structure.

Many recipes recommend adding oil. It is believed to soften the interior and make the fabric easier to handle. On the other hand, it turned out that the dough was too slack and the flavor and richness did not come out so much. Instead, I chose butter. Not only did this provide more flavor, but it did not create sagging or cumbersome dough.

Tim Chin

Another key to the success of Youtiao is shaping. Hold a piece of dough, press the center vertically with chopsticks, and stretch it until it doubles or triples in length before frying. When done correctly, the pastry will look like a butterfly when cut in half, with an open, airy crumb structure, sometimes with holes in the cave. To maximize expandability, the mixed dough was allowed to rest overnight (or at least a few hours) to relax enough to easily stretch the gluten.

Finally, it turns out that oil temperature and quick movements are essential for maximizing swelling. The sweet spot in my recipe was between 390 ° F and 400 ° F. Below that, the dough does not swell so violently. Beyond that, the exterior cooks too quickly, preventing the pastry from reaching its peak volume. It was found that frequent rotation of the dough results in uniform cooking and uniform expansion of the dough to prevent the dough from “curing” too quickly.

Youtiao is usually served with porridge at breakfast or lunch. If you want something lighter, it’s traditional to soak it in sweetened soy milk. In addition, youtiao can be wrapped in steamed rice noodles (a popular dim sum) or finely chopped and fried.

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