My brother and Qi had been wanting me to attempt Yao Char Kwai (You Tiao in Mandarin) since Christmas. Or was it Thanksgiving? They have tried it before and did not have a successful result and wanted me to try making it. I’ve been delaying…delaying..delaying and finally decided to give it a try last week.
Yao Char Kwai /You Tiao/Chinese Cruller is basically fried dough commonly eaten during breakfast in the Chinese Community. There are several ways to eat this delightful fried dough; with soybean milk, with congee, with Malaysian black coffee, with Kaya (Coconut Egg Jam) or just plain. It’s all personal preference and sometimes differ from region to region.
In Malaysia, Yao Char Kwai is always freshly available from the street vendors. Here in the US, we can get frozen ones (which are not the greatest) and also fresh ones from Dim Sum places or some Asian grocery stores.
My Yao Char Kwai attempt was a success! The dough expanded, was crisp on the outside, holey, chewy and soft in the inside. I was quite nervous when I started mixing the dough together and trying to get the right dough texture. The next few hours of punching, folding, and resting the dough was antagonizing especially since it was my first time making it. I did not know what to expect and what would be the right texture. I was just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. After a few hours, the dough became softer and nicer to touch. I decided to let the dough rest overnight per the suggestion of the recipe. It worked out like a charm. The dough was soft, and it stretched when i pulled the dough before dropping it into the hot oil. And best of all it EXPANDED!! And I managed to get the Yao Char Kwai to be uniform in size.
Here’s the recipe from one of my favorite food blog; Lily’s Wai Sek Hong.
YAO CHAR KWAI RECIPE
- 3 Cups Bread Flour
- 7 – 10 Oz Water
- 1 Tsp Ammonia Bicarbonate
- 1 Tsp Baking Soda
- 1 Tsp Alum
- 1-1/4 Tsp Salt
Mix the ammonia bicarbonate, baking soda, alum and salt with 7 ozs water until dissolve. Add in to the flour and using the end of a wooden spoon, stir in a circular motion until a dough is form – dough should be sticky, if not, add in more water – dough must stick to fingers.
Cover with cling wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, punch down the edge and all over dough with your knuckles for at least 8 punches, then take the dough from the side of bowl, lift it as high as it can go and fold in the middle - 4 folds will do . Let is rest for 15 – 20 minutes. Repeat the punching , folding and resting for 3 – 4 times more.
Next, oil your fingers and dough, lift it up and overturn it, oil the top so that it will not dry. Wrap tightly with cling wrap, and leave in the fridge for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove from bowl, divide into 2 portions and fold in to make a long smooth elastic dough. Wrap it back with greased cling wrap. Then put in a Ziploc bag and leave in the fridge for 3 – 4 hours. Leaving in the fridge, well wrapped, overnight is better – the dough is easier to handle and the result is lighter.
Heat a large wok with oil half full. After 3 – 4 hrs or overnight, lightly flour the pastry board. Spread dough into a flat long 2 inch wide and 1/4 inch thick. Use a rolling pin to aid the spreading. Cut into ½ inch strips. Check oil temperature, it must be more than 350 F to begin frying.
Using a bamboo skewer, dip in water and dap very little in the middle of a strip of dough. Top with another strip and using a dry bamboo skewer or a chopstick, press down horizontally in the middle of the two strips to adhere. Pull and stretch (until it resist) the pressed strips until as long as possible, and put the stretched strip in the hot oil. When the dough floats to the top, use a pair of chopsticks and turn the dough. Keep on turning until it has finished expanding. Fry until slightly brown. Remove from oil and drain excess oil. Repeat with the rest of the strips until all are done.
June’s Comments: When you mix the Ammonia Bicarbonate, Alum and Baking Soda with water, be sure not to sniff the mixture…you don’t want the strong intrusive smell of Ammonia up your nostril!
I only made half the portion and ended up with over 20 pcs of 3” Yao Char Kwai. I wasn’t sure how much the dough will expand, hence I decided to make mini ones. I did not use a whole load of oil to fry the dough. I filled up my frying pan with slightly less than 1 inch of oil and was still able to fry the Yao Chat Kwai without any trouble. I rest the freshly fried Yao Char Kwai on a cake rack for the excess oil to drain. I like that the Yao Char Kwai was not as oily as the store bought ones!
It was a great Saturday morning breakfast for Hubby and I. We ate our Yao Char Kwai with some Malaysian Black Coffee and also some homemade Kaya. Yums!!!