What is it?
Youtiao, also known as Chinese fried bread, is a typical breakfast food. Translated as “oil strip,” it’s a long golden brown deep-fried strip of dough usually eaten with soymilk or congee.
According to popular folklore, youtiao was originally cut in the shape of two human-shaped pieces of dough. As such it represented Qin Hui (an official from the Song dynasy) and his wife, who were vilified for betraying a much-loved general called Yue Fei.
Thus youtiao is deep fried as if taking Yue’s scalding revenge on the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao is often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined in the middle.
If you think youtiao on its own to be a bit bland, there are plenty of accompaniments. Zhaliang, which is made of youtiao wrapped tightly in rice-noodle roll, is a very popular breakfast item in Guangdong province. Youtiao is also an important ingredient in cifan, a popular Shanghainese breakfast.
The best place to eat it:
Pick a popular place that serves congee in the morning.
Since youtiao is deep fried, it is better eaten when it’s straight out of the fryer.
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