Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Crispy outside and soft fluffy inside 油条

Forward to You Cha Kway (You Tiao油条) Recipe

I really hate it when I ask anyone and everyone, vendors included, about how to make the greatest you tiao, light, fluffy, crispy and tastes like heaven. They ALL say that you need a large quantity of flour like, 5 kg to make this recipe work, and why waste your time and money embarking on this quest. They try very hard to dissuade you not to pursue this elusive, mind boggling, super laborious, gift from God recipe, so they claim. Vendors, who were willing, wanted to charge me monies from RMB 300-800 were the quotes I got, for teaching me and giving me their secret. I only wanted to pay at max RMB 200, because I believed it is really not that difficult. The vendors would leave out an important detail and it is likely you cant replicate it at home. What a waste of money then. I didn’t trust the bloody Chinese, but they do make the greatest you tiao, and that is an undeniable fact. Even if I paid monies for the recipe and method, they think I will set up shop next to them to compete. When really, I don’t want to eat street food, fried in “many days old” oil. I’d be deathly ill in no time. So, I was pretty much out on my own. As a scientist, I believe in the science and not the art alone that will make this work. First, I had to perfect the science, then the art will be just a refinement of the recipe. After weeks of engineering and scientific research and development, like how I was as an electronics engineer, many failures from trial and errors, I have developed a method and a recipe to make great home made you tiao exactly like how the vendors make and taste. Get this, I can get away with 1 bowl or 150g of flour. So, what is this 5kg crap !! So, I say, fuck all of them. I will break the secret ! And I did as described in detail in this white paper.

Like most recipes that you get, ALL of them lack the detail it needs to make this recipe work to my satisfaction.

So, I am documenting every single detail, visually via pictures, viewing textures, showing exact methods and everything you need to know from my research and development.

And yes, I now have the greatest you tiao recipe for the home “chef”.

You Tiao Recipe originated from Amelia Goh Siew Chen, Kuching latest modification is Rev 2 -

HERE IT IS......

150g plain flour or 1 soup bowl or 1 cup of flour
1/2 mug = 4oz water (need to adjust, add water slowly during stir and mix)
1/2 teaspoon ammonia powder (Optional - better not to use – smells like pee)
1/8 teaspoon Alum (don’t use too much)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon Baking powder
1 teaspoon alkaline water


1. SIFT (optional, if no sieve pan. Sieving makes the dough less lumpy) the flour separately from alum, ammonia powder (optional), bicarbonate of soda and salt in 2 bowls.

(Note: If alum comes in crystals, dissolve in a small amount of hot water to dissolve the alum first. Get rid of remaining crystals in the liquid. Do this in a separate bowl from the flour and the soda and baking powder.)

2. Add a bit of warm to hot water to bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt. There will be a foaming action. Then, add the alum liquid. Lastly, add the peanut oil (you can skip the 1 tbspoon peanut oil step, if you want it not oily - the result is a lighter and softer inside with a crispy outside, but you need to eat it while it is hot for best taste).

3. Stir and mix in the flour with emulsion in (2) to form a soft dough. Add more warm water if needed. The texture at this stage is rough and crumbly. At this point the dough should not be dry, but soft and sticky. Stir into a ball. There should not be any flour left on the sides of the bowl. Leave to stand for about 20 mins. Cover the work bowl with saran wrap. After 20 mins, the ingredients in dough should have reacted with the flour and looks somewhat smooth and elastic.

4. Rub some flour on hands as the dough will be sticky and knead dough. Continue to rub a little flour on hands if needed. Knead dough till soft and elastic and no longer stick to hands. Kneading action:

a. Roll dough into a ball and use your palm to flatten.

b. From the wrist, using strength and pressing down on dough, knead away from you in a long knead motion while pressing down on dough.

c. Roll back the dough and leave as much air room in the dough.

d. Turn the dough, a quarter turn, and continue (a) through (d) for 15 mins.

e. Flip the dough, every so often. This kneading action ensures that the ingredients in the dough is spread evenly.

Then leave the dough to rest for 15 minutes. Repeat the knead and dough resting 4-6 times. More kneading doesn’t hurt, depending whether you achieve (5) below.

5. About the 2nd to 3rd kneads, the dough will form air bubbles when kneaded and make popping sounds as you knead. The bubbles look like blisters on the dough. After subsequent rests and knead, more air bubbles will form and get bigger. The frequency of bubbles bursting will increase significantly as you knead. More bubbles, means lighter the dough and the result is dough puffing up bigger when you fry. The texture of the final dough is as in 20a and 20b. Notice, after 4th knead, the dough looks wet and sticky Test elasticity by pulling the dough and it should spring back. After the knead and rest is done, have passed the bubble popping and elasticity tests, form the dough into a ball and then flatten to a rectangular block about half inch thick. Coat the entire dough in peanut oil. Set the dough to rest for 4 hours and more. The longer you let it rest, the bigger the you tiao when you fry.

6. Prepare to fry. Cut a large piece of dough. Roll the dough into a rectangular shape, 3'' wide and 0.1'' thick. Crosswise cut the rectangular shaped dough into strips wide. Stack two strips on top of each other. Use a thin rod (skewer) or the back of a cleaver to press lengthwise in middle of the strips; this will attach them securely to each other. Then, stretch the dough out as much as possible without breaking before putting in the wok for deep frying in boiling peanut oil. This method followed verbatim to the letter ensures the dough to puff up 10x ++ over the size of raw dough, like “poori” when deep fried in oil.

Additional notes:

1. French long knead technique for “pain français” or French baguette is used extensively here.

2. Preparation of dough by thoroughly French long kneading the dough is tantamount to success. This ensures dough is soft, elastic, full embedded with air, fully pliable and stretchable to long lengths without breaking. Refer to 20a and 20b, final texture before resting the dough in oil. Repeat steps (4) and (5), if necessary.

3. To puff up big, texture light and airy like “poori”, prepare dough in step (6) before frying, roll out the dough and have the dough rolled out thin to about 0.1”. Follow step (6) carefully.

4. However, if prefer texture like a fried bread, then rolling out the dough thick will do the job. Texture will be slightly heavy and not as airy as in (2).

5. Alum will make the outside crispy.

6. Eat when just out of deep fry.


01 Preparation:
Small bowls (L-R): Alum liquid, oil, alkaline water
Big bowl: Baking soda and baking powder
Prep order: React baking soda and powder with water.
Add alkaline and alum liquid to the baking soda and powder mix.
Add oil.

02 Add flour and mix dough with liquids.Add additional water.

03 Start a soft dough

04 Mix till flour on sides are gone

05 Rough and crumbly. Rest the dough 20 mins.

06 Sticky dough texture after 20 mins

07 Ready for knead

08 Palm pressing down on dough

09 Knead and stretch away. French long knead

10 Knead with 2 hands

11 Roll back putting air in dough

12 Make a quarter turn.
Repeat steps 8-12, keep rotating 1/4 turn and continue to knead for 15 mins.

13 Rest the dough and cover with saran

14 Hot towel and cover.
Repeat 8-14, 4x and more.

15 Formation of blisters and bubbles from successive kneading for steps 8-14.

16 Blistering getting bigger with more kneads.

17 Another blister view

18 Another large blister view

19 Another large blister

20 Blisters form at rest

21 View of final dough after knead

22 View of final soft sticky texture.

23 Rest for 4 hours or more in peanut oil. Dough can be kept in fridge if to be kept overnight.

24 Prepation for deep frying. Stack 2 thin pieces

25 Stretch dough before deep frying.

26 View of inside of you tiao.

27 Final you tiao.