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Photo by Kris Kirkham

Crisp, golden brown youtiao is a staple at the Chinese breakfast table. Youtiao (known as yau ja gwai or yau tiu in Cantonese) is most commonly served with a glass of soy milk or a bowl of congee. Though you can warm up the doughnuts in a hot oven the day after they’re made, they’re best eaten fresh and while they’re still hot. 


Serves 4

3¾ cups (500 g) medium-gluten wheat four or all-purpose four
½ tsp. salt
10 g baking powder
50 g salted butter
1 egg
1 cup (9 oz.) warm water
4 cups (1 liter) vegetable oil, for frying, plus extra for oiling the dough
Extra flour and baking powder, for dusting

Step 1

Put all the dough ingredients into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment and knead on a low speed for 1–2 minutes. Then turn the speed up to medium and knead for a further 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Dust 1 Tbsp. of extra flour around the edges of the bowl to help bring the sticky dough off the sides, then tip the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Knead it lightly with your hands for a minute, then put it back into the bowl and lightly rub it with 1 Tbsp. of oil. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 10–15 minutes.

Step 2

Dust a 14-inch baking tray lightly with flour. After the dough has rested, tip it out on to a floured surface and roll it into a ¼-inch-thick rectangle, roughly the size of the baking tray. Lay the flattened rectangle of dough on the tray, cover with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge for 8 hours minimum, or overnight.

Step 3

Now remove the plastic wrap, dust the top of the dough with an additional 5 g (⅛ oz.) of baking powder, and rub it lightly all over the dough. Wet your hands with a little cold water and lightly rub over the dough once more with your wet hands. Using a knife or a dough cutter, cut the dough into roughly 1½ x ¾ inch strips. To make one doughnut, lay one strip directly over another (making sure that the surfaces with the extra baking powder are on the inside of the dough “sandwich”), then press down in the centre all along the length of dough with a thin chopstick or the back of a knife to stick the 2 pieces together before frying.

Step 4

Half-fill a wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 350°F, or use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test by placing the tip in the oil: if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is hot enough.

Step 5

Pick up the prepared strips and give the ends a light pull away from each other to stretch out the dough, then carefully lay them in the oil and hold them down with tongs or chopsticks so that they puff up as quickly as possible. Gently turn them around in the oil so they cook evenly. The dough sticks should bubble up and become airy very quickly. Deep-fry until golden brown all over. Then remove and drain on a few sheets of kitchen paper. These are traditionally served alongside a bowl of congee for some seriously savory carb loading.

Cook’s note:

Allow at least one day for preparation.

From Hong Kong Diner: Recipes for Baos, Hotpots, Street Snacks and More by Jeremy Pang and Adrienne Katz Kennedy. Reprinted with permission from Quadrille, an imprint of Hardie Grant Publishing. Buy the full book from Amazon or Bookshop.

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