I have recently become somewhat addicted to youtiao. Sometimes known as the ‘Chinese Churro’, these deep-fried dough sticks are devilishly moreish. But, I wasn’t always such a big fan. I often saw my husband dipping one into his hawker centre kopi and frankly, that kind of grossed me out. But then I realised that the youtiao is a vessel for many more wonderful things. So, I decided to explore them…one more step to being local!
Ba Kut Teh
I love ba kut teh; this peppery and herbal pork rib soup is delicious. Quite often you will see youtiao included in your order. I like letting the dough get soaked into the soup until it’s a bit soggy.
Sweetened Soy Milk
I am definitely not at this stage yet; to me, dipping anything in soy milk is a disgusting concept. I don’t like soy milk at all, which is what the problem is here. But if you do, this might be up your street. Some people even dip their youtiao into soy pudding.
I have seen this a lot, and I guess it makes sense. A youtiao, in actuality, is just a long doughnut, and doughnuts are normally covered in icing or various other sweet and sticky substances. Condensed milk is so sweet and rich, dipping youtiao into it is a no-brainer for dessert-lovers or those with a sweet tooth.
A very traditional and obvious choice. Whilst I don’t like it myself, it’s a similar concept to us Brits dipping a bickie into our tea or coffee. I just don’t like floaty pastry bits swimming around in my cup. It’s a no from me.
You may have guessed by now that youtiao is a Singapore breakfast staple, as is rice porridge! The two go together quite nicely, especially with a bit of soy sauce, for a balance of sweet and salty, soft and crunchy.
I’ve saved the best until last. And of course, someone from Birmingham loves anything drenched in curry sauce. In my opinion, youtiao is a perfect vessel for curry; it soaks it up perfectly and is the most comforting, stodgy snack. It may seem like a weird combo at first (and trust me, I thought so too), but you really can’t knock it until you’ve tried it. This combination got me back into youtiao, so I encourage all to give it a try!
I’m sure that I haven’t come across all ways of eating youtiao, and in fact I know that youtiao can be found across Chinese and South East Asian cuisine, each country having their special way of enjoying it. Have you tried this local staple? And how do you like to eat it?