Making Youtiao

Revenge is a dish that is best served deep-fried. I’m pretty sure that’s how the Klingon proverb goes, and right it is. This is the most delicious ongoing corporal punishment I’ve ever tasted. Sampling these for the first time, Mrs. Pastry wanted to know how I got them to taste so, well…Chinese…when they’re really just simple fried strips of dough. I can’t say I know the answer, but somehow they do.

So gather your ingredients and let’s begin. Start by sifting the flours into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle.

Add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir on low to combine them.

Add the water…

…and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Switch to the dough hook…

…and knead 3-5 minutes until the dough is fairly smooth and elastic. It will be wet and sticky.

Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Turn it over to coat the ball with oil, then cover it with a towel or plastic wrap.

Let it rise until it’s about twice the original size.

So then. Remove the dough to a floured surface and sprinkle more flour on top.

And roll.

Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4 inch thick, and slice it into strips roughly an inch wide. How long should they be? Well…how wide is your pan? Cut the strips to size and re-roll any scraps.

Dip your finger in water and moisten the top of one of the strips.

Place another on top and press down lightly to seal. This is the step that gives youtiao their distinctive shape.

Then set the strips on a lightly floured surface or a towel to proof for about half an hour. Cover with a cloth and spritz them with water from time to time to keep the tops from drying out.

At this point set a pan of oil on the stove to heat. Peanut oil is best, I think, for the flavor it adds. Attach a thermometer to the edge of the pan and bring the oil up to about 370 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the oil is hot, fry the strips for about a minute per side. You can fry a few at a time depending on the size of your pan. Just keep an eye on your thermometer and allow your oil to come back up to temperature between batches.

Drain them on a wire rack or on paper towels…on a wire rack.

Eat them while they’re hot and crispy, along with savory rice porridge, that’s traditional. However I won’t discourage you from dunking them in coffee, hot chocolate, or a sweet concoction of your choice.

20 thoughts on “Making Youtiao”

  1. Hi Joe!
    You’ve caught my mom’s eye with this post! (as we are Chinese)
    It’s interesting how you eat these paired with something sweet because we tend to eat them with a savoury congee (rice porridge), and it can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Now that you have brought it up, I will definitely try having these with coffee in the mornings (:

    1. Excellent comment, Vicki!

      I noted earlier in the week that these are traditionally served in savory settings. I suppose my reason for the sweet “dunking” suggestion is that’s how most non-Chinese/Asians are accustomed to consuming fried dough — with sugar! 😉

      It’s a cultural thing no question. I’ll say that last night here at stately Pastry manor we ate the last of these for dinner with soup. They were perfect that way.

      Thanks, Vicki!

      – Joe

    2. I think people in Taiwan like to dip youtiao in hot sweetened soy milk for breakfast as well.

  2. ooooooh! they look awesome…but can I bake them as I am rubbish at deep frying? Sorry, if my question is a blasphemy :S

    1. You can sure try. I doubt they’ll puff up like this, but I’ll be interesting in hearing the results of the experiment!

      – Joe

  3. They freeze well too. Just bake them without defrosting in the toaster oven. They make good croutons too, esp for Asian-type salads…..just cut them (easier with scissors) into 1/4 – 1/2 inch bits, toast till crispy on a baking sheet. Cool and put into an airtight container, can keep for several days at room temp. I snack on them like that too!

  4. Love youtiao, from where I’m from (Sabah, Malaysia) we would make an incision lengthways, spread butter and kaya(coconut custard spread) and eat it with a hot drink, coffee normally. We also like to dunk it ( just plain) in hot coffee.

    1. Excellent! I’ve heard they can be stuffed with meat or vegetables as well. Thanks Louise! Very interesting.

      – Joe

  5. Great ! What a Detail Pic. I Like This Cake, N it Called Cakwe in Indonesia. It more delicious with a hot Sauce and Grabing on the Hot Morning.
    N i have just known How To Make It … Here 😀

    With A Yummy Time :Q
    Luve Pastry So Much :3

    1. The pockets in mine are close to that size, Wisnu, even if this photo doesn’t do a great job of showing it. But to get them even bigger, just let the dough proof longer. Thirty minutes to an hour.

      Let me know how it goes!

      – Joe

  6. Hi again, to reply to Wisnu have you tried using Double Acting Baking powder to make youtiao? It’s just a thought that it might help in creating more air pockets inside the dough while frying in order to achieve the typical air light texture instead of bread like texture…. Sorry to butt in, Joe. I’ve been doing a bit of light research on youtiao recipes, I found that in order to make the ones you get in Chinese Town, cripsy and light texture, you need Alum and ammonia powder. Alum is commonly used in pickling so that the veg retains its crunch and Ammonia to give that extra oomph rising when frying.

    However if I’m wrong, please correct me 🙂

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