Deep Fried You Tiao stuffed with squid paste is a popular lunch or dinner dish at casual Chinese Seafood restaurants and eateries in Singapore. They are deliciously crunchy, moist and aromatic. A double Fried dish that tends to be rather oily. My preference is for a much less oily dish and a stuffing with more depth in flavour. To that end and with my friend’s advice, I tested and tried this dish successfully.
I have not ventured into making my own You Tiao but a search on you-tube will successfully connect you with a several videos. Unstuffed You Tiao can easily be purchased in the morning at several wet markets all over Singapore. For easy reference in Singapore, a chain store called “Delisnacks” (http://www.delisnacks.com/products.aspx) sells You Tiao, buns and other deep fried breads at many locations all over Singapore. If you live in USA, UK or Australia a visit to the freezer section of your nearest Asian grocery shop will yield results!
If you live in South East Asia or China, these fried dough sticks are commonly available as street food for breakfast. A hot cup of black coffee or a steaming bowl of soy bean milk is a great accompaniment for this breakfast snack. In Indonesia it is known as cakwe (pronounced “chak-way”), Malaysia you request for (油炸粿 iû-chiā-kóe), in Thailand is generally called pah thawng ko, in Vietnam you look for giò cháo quẩy, whilst in Myanmar it is called e kya kway.
This breakfast food is linked with devious plots and tragedy in Chinese history. Wise Geeks reports that the original creation of youtiao dates back to the Song Dynasty. The corrupt Prime Minister of China, Qin Gui, supposedly on the advice of his wife, executed a loyal general, Yue Fei, who was beloved by the people. In anger and protest, a cook created a pair of breadsticks shaped like humans, entwining them together and deep frying them, thus symbolically boiling the leader and his wife in oil. This folklore is where the Cantonese name for youtiao stems from: you zha gui, literally meaning “deep fried devils” or “deep fried ghosts.”
Some Comments about Ingredients
- Far Back of photo shows the sauces and seasoning. Ground white pepper, Fish Sauce, Sesame oil, Mayonnaise, and Lingam’s Sweet Chilli Sauce ( sweet Thai chilly sauce is a good substitute).
- Centre of photo. Frozen Squid (locally called “Sotong”) Paste which has been de-frosted (available from supermarkets), Ready Fried Yu Tiao ( locally from food centres and some food courts and in the frozen section of Asian groceries), and fresh prawns cut into chunks. Click here for my post “Shelling and Preparing Prawns”
- Front of photo. Toasted sesame seeds , finely chopped spring onions and fresh cilantro.
Preparation and Cooking
STEP 1. In a large bowl, season the de-frosted squid paste and fold in the seasoned prawns. Mix well so that the prawns and the seasoning are evenly distributed in the squid paste.
Meanwhile, prepare your oven tray by lining it with some aluminium foil for easy clean-up. If you are using a normal oven, pre-heat oven to 200C.
STEP 2. Pull each pair of You Tiao apart into single pieces. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut each piece of You Tiao lengthwise. Then, cut each length further – into half lengths. They are now ready for stuffing.
STEP 3. Hold each half length piece in your hands, pry the slit to open it wider and stuff neatly. Complete stuffing all 16 half lengths of the You Tiao.
STEP 4. Photo above shows 4 pieces of stuffed You Tiao in an un-lined small pan for easy handling. You might prefer to place all the stuffed You Tiao pieces direct on the prepared oven tray and then sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on each piece of Stuffed You Tiao.
STEP 5. Photo above shows that you can cook these Stuffed You Tiao in an toaster oven. Bake with top and bottom heat for 10 to 15 mins. The length of baking time depends also on whether your prepared stuffing was at room temperature or it was still cold when you popped stuffed pieces into the oven to bake.
Serves: 8 persons as an appetizer or 4 if you are serving this dish with a bowl of rice and just a plate of stir fried vegetables for a meal.
Oven Temperature: 200C
Baking Time: 12 to 15 mins
- 4 pairs of fried You Tiao
- 500 gm of squid paste
- 200 gm of peeled prawns, cut into chunks
- 2 Tbsp of finely chopped spring onions
- 1/2 Tbsp of finely chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 to 3 Dashes of ground white pepper
- 3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- 3 Tbsp of mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp of Lingam’s Sweet Chilli Sauce
- a few pieces of butter-head lettuce
- 1 large tomato sliced
1. At least a day ahead, take frozen block of squid paste and place it on a plate to de-frost in the fridge. For speedier de-frosting, place the block in a bowl covered with water and leave it to thaw in the fridge.
2. In a large bowl, season the de-frosted squid paste and fold in the seasoned prawns. Mix well so that the prawns and the seasoning are evenly distributed in the squid paste.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your oven tray by lining it with some aluminium foil for easy clean-up. If you are using a normal oven, pre-heat oven to 200C.
4. Hold each pair of You Tiao and pull them apart into single pieces. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut each piece of You Tiao lengthwise. Then, cut each length into half lengths and they are now ready for stuffing.
5. Hold each half length piece in your hands, pry the slit to open it wider and stuff . Complete stuffing all 16 half lengths of the You Tiao.
6. Place all the stuffed You Tiao pieces direct on the prepared oven tray. Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on each piece of Stuffed You Tiao. Mix Sauce.
7. Bake with top and bottom heat for 10 to 15 mins. The length of time depends also on whether your prepared stuffing was at room temperature when you popped stuffed pieces into the oven. Remove from oven when all pieces are cooked. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut each length into 2 smaller pieces. You now have 32 pieces.
8. Garnish platter and place the pieces decoratively. Serve with Sauce as an appetizer or as one of several dishes for lunch or dinner.
Quick Meal. How about including a bowl of nourishing Chinese Soup like one of these listed below?
1. Radishes with Dried Squid Click here
2. Lotus Root, Peanut with Pork Ribs Click here
3. Pork Stomach with Peppercorn. Click here
4. Tang Ho with Fishballs. Click here
Guests are coming! Some other dishes are listed below. Remind your helper to use those ingredients that are already in the fridge, freezer or larder first.
1. Beef Rendang (spicy). Click here
2. Singapore Chicken Curry (spicy). Click here
3. Paper Wrapped Chicken (Baked). Click here
4. Pari Pari Style Chicken Wings. Click here.
1. Dry Assam Seafood. Click here
2. Fried Fish with Fermented Black Bean sauce. Click here
1. Pork, Spinach and Egg Stir Fry. Click here
2. Spinach in Broth with 3 Types of Eggs .Click here
3. Broccoli and Meat or Tofu Stir Fry. Click here
9. Shanghai cabbage with Oyster Sauce and Garlic. Click here
You may like to end this meal with a plate of cold, freshly cut seasonal fruits. Perhaps you had time to make a dessert like one of the 2 listed below? Either of them is most suited to our hot tropical climate.
1. Almond Jelly + Longans Click here.
2. Coconut Jelly with Can Lychees. Click here.