Stuffed You Tiao

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This traditional dish remains a popular menu item at Chinese restaurants today, but is now likely to be served with modern accompaniments such as wasabi mayonnaise, although simple dips of sweet sauce and chilli sauce are heaven enough! When preparing this dish, make sure to use the freshest prawns (shrimps) and squid to ensure the tastiest results.

Ingredients

  • Prawns (shrimps) 350 g (12 oz)
  • Squid 150 g (5 oz)
  • Pork fat 20 g (⅔ oz), finely diced
  • Salt ¾ tsp
  • Egg white from 1 egg
  • Ice-cold water 90 ml (3 fl oz)
  • Rice wine 1 Tbsp
  • Potato starch 2 tsp
  • Ground white pepper ½ tsp
  • Sugar ½ tsp
  • Yu tiao (fried crullers) 2
  • Tapioca starch as needed
  • Cooking oil for deep-frying

Condiments

  • Chilli sauce to taste
  • Sweet flour sauce to taste

Method

  1. Peel prawns. (Freeze shells and heads for use in stocks, if desired). Slit prawns along their backs and remove thread-like black intestines. Rinse prawns well and pat dry.
  2. To clean squid, pull out tentacles and head and cut off head below the eyes. Discard head and mouthparts, saving only the tentacles. Peel skin off body tube and discard, along with everything inside tube. Rinse squid tube and tentacles and pat dry.
  3. Coarsely dice prawn and squid flesh, then mix with pork fat and salt. Place in a resealable plastic bag and freeze for 30 minutes until firm but not frozen stiff.
  4. Combine prawn and squid mixture with egg white, cold water, rice wine, potato starch, pepper and sugar in a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture becomes a smooth, cohesive paste.
  5. Scrape paste into a bowl. Cut pork fat into very fine dice and stir into the paste. With wet hands, scoop up the paste and throw it back into the bowl to compact it. Repeat this 20–25 times until paste feels dense and sticky.
  6. Separate you tiao into halves so you get 4 sticks. Make a lengthwise slit down the middle of each stick. Dust the inside of the slit with a little tapioca starch, then spoon some prawn and squid paste into the slit, compacting it so that each stick is well stuffed but not overflowing. You may not need all the you tiao. With scissors, cut the stuffed sticks into 5-cm (2-in) lengths.
  7. Heat oil for deep-frying in a wok over medium-high heat until a light haze forms above it. Gently lower stuffed you tiao pieces into hot oil. They should start to bubble immediately. Fry for 1–2 minutes, until filling has puffed up and you tiao are deep golden. Fry in small batches so as not to crowd oil—pieces should float freely. Watch the you tiao carefully as they brown quickly; do not over-fry or they will be hard. Drain well on paper towels. Serve hot with a dip of chilli sauce and/or sweet flour sauce on the side.