- all-purpose (plain) flour 2 cups
- Egg 1 • 130 kcal
- Salt 1/2 teaspoon • 1 kcal
- Baking powder 1½ teaspoons • 156 kcal
- Softened butter 2 tablespoons
- Water 1/3 cup
- oil of choice for frying
Fried dough may not sound like the most tempting of treats, but once you’ve tried this Chinese fried dough, you’ll be hooked!
In China, youtiao is often served as a breakfast dish, along with porridge, soy milk, and often steamed sticky rice. They are sometimes used as an ingredient in other meals, and can be eaten alone or with a spicy dipping sauce.
Although these may look difficult to make, they are fairly easy. You must remember to bring the dough back to room temperature before frying, though.
Make the dough the day before you want the youtiao, as it has to chill in the fridge overnight.
Use a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, and mix the flour, egg, salt, baking powder, milk, and softened butter together on the lowest setting.
Keep the speed on low, and slowly add the water in a few separate batches.
Knead the dough for 15 minutes on low speed. When finished, the dough should feel very soft, but should not stick to the bowl.
Cover the dough with a clean, damp tea towel, and let rest for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can knead by hand for an extra 10-15 minutes.
Flour your work surface, then form the dough into a long, flat rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick and 4 inches wide.
Take the time to make it as neat and uniform as you can. Place the dough in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap on a baking sheet. Wrap the dough, carefully tucking the two ends of the plastic under the loaf. Make sure that the dough is completely covered. Pop in the fridge to chill overnight.
In the morning, take out the dough and let it sit in your kitchen (still wrapped) for 1 – 2 hours until the dough is back to room temperature. It should be very soft to the touch when it’s returned to room temperature. This step is really important, because if you don't let the dough come back to room temperature, it won't fry properly.
Prepare the oil for frying using a wok or very large, heavy based pan. Use medium heat to slowly bring the oil up to 400F – test the temperature with a meat thermometer.
While the oil is heating up, unwrap the dough.
Gently tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface, and peel off the plastic wrap. Very lightly flour the top side of the dough. Next, cut the dough into an even number of 1-inch wide strips.
Then stack them on top of each other, two by two, and press down in the center, lengthwise, with a chopstick.
Next, hold the two ends of each piece, and gently stretch the dough until it comes out to around a 9-inch length of dough.
If you don’t have a pan big enough to cook these in, make them shorter.
Once the oil reaches 400F, carefully lower the stretched dough into the oil.
If the oil temperature is correct, the dough should rise to the surface right away.
Now take some long tongs, and quickly roll the dough over and over in a continuous motion for about a minute.
You can fry one to two at a time, but frying one is probably easier at first until you get the hang of turning the dough constantly. The youtiao is done once they turn a light golden brown. Try not to over-fry them, or they will be crunchy instead of chewy.
Now, repeat those steps with the remaining dough.
Youtiao are easier made when there’s two people helping – one to make the dough shapes, and one to roll the dough while it’s in the oil.