Deep-Fried Devils (You Zha Gui or You Tiao)


       2 ts Coarse salt     
       1 ts Alum*     
       1 ts Ammonium carbonate powder*     
       1 ts Baking soda     
       1 ts Baking powder 
1 1/4 c  Water at room temperature 
3 1/2 c  Unbleached flour (approx.)     
       6 c  Or more peanut or corn oil         
               For deep frying, preferably         
               In a wok 

*available at pharmacies. note: Chains may not carry these. Try to find  an old mom & pop pharmacy.


Put the salt, alum ammonium carbonate, and baking soda and powder in a large mixing bowl. Add the water and stir until all the powders are dissolved. Add 3 cups of the flour and use your hands in a pressing and pushing motion to mix the dough. Add the remaining flour if the dough is too soft. It should be firm enough to handle Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth with no lumps.

The kneading should take no longer than 2 or 3 minutes. Divide the dough into two pieces, and with a little flour shape them into two oblong loaves, then coat with oil and wrap tightly in plastic. Let them sit at least 4hours and up to 8 hours at room temperature. Sprinkle a large cutting board with flour and put it near the stove. Stretch the loaves so that each measures 14 inches long and 3 inches wide.

Lay them on the board at least 4 inches apart. Sprinkle some flour on top. With a rolling pin, roll on loaf out to about 1/4 inch thick, 4 inches wide, 16 inches long. Repeat with the other loaf. Cover with a damp towel & let rest 10 minutes. Heat 3 inches of oil to 350 deg. Have a tray lined with paper towels nearby. Cut 4 crosswise strips 2/3 inch wide from one of the loaves. Brush the top of 2 with water, then lay the other 2 on top.

Press a chopstick lengthwise on each pair of strips to make them stick together. Stretch each double strip to 8 to 10  inch length. Lower the pieces into the oil, immediately turning them gently with chopsticks, without squeezing them, until all sides become lightly browned. This takes about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Repeat the cutting and frying with the rest of the dough. Wrapped in plastic, they keep well 1 week in the refrigerator and 1 month in the freezer. Reheat in a preheated 450 deg oven for about 2 minutes, until crisp but not dry.


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