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Pieces of You tiao
Traditional Chinese 油條
Simplified Chinese 油条
Hanyu Pinyin yóutiáo
Literal meaning oil strip
Yau ja gwai
Chinese 油炸鬼 or 油炸粿
Literal meaning oil-fried devil

Youtiao (simplified Chinese: 油条; traditional Chinese: 油條; pinyin: yóutiáo; literally "oil strip") - also known as you char kway in Hokkien,[1] yau ja gwai in Cantonese,[2] and Chinese oil stick, Chinese donut, Chinese cruller,[3] fried bread stick- is a long, golden-brown, deep fried strip of dough in Chinese cuisine and other East and Southeast Asian cuisines and is usually eaten for breakfast. Conventionally, youtiao are lightly salted and made so they can be torn lengthwise in two. Youtiao are normally eaten as an accompaniment for rice congee or soy milk.


Culinary applications and variants

At breakfast, youtiao can be stuffed inside shāobǐng (燒餅; lit. roasted flatbread) to make a sandwich known as shāobǐng yóutiáo (燒餅油條). Youtiao wrapped in a rice noodle roll is known as zháliǎng. Youtiao is also an important ingredient of the food Cífàn tuán in Shanghai cuisine.

Tánggāo (糖糕), or "sugar cake", is a sweet, fried food item similar in appearance to youtiao but shorter in length.

In Thailand, youtiao ("patongkoh" in Thai) are eaten for breakfast with sweetened condensed milk and coffee.



Although generally known as yóutiáo in Standard Mandarin throughout China, the dish is also known as guǒzi (果子) in northern China. In Min Nan-speaking areas, it is known as iû-chiā-kóe (油炸粿),[4] where kóe (粿) means cake or pastry, hence "oil-fried cake/pastry". In Cantonese-speaking areas this is rendered as yàuhjagwái (油炸鬼), where gwái literally means "devil" or "ghost".[5]

Folk etymology

The Cantonese name yàuhjagwái literally means "oil-fried devil" and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against Song Dynasty official Qin Hui, who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in Chinese culture. It is said that the food, originally in the shape of two human-shaped pieces of dough but later evolved into two pieces joined in the middle, represents Qin Hui and his wife, both having a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general's demise. Thus the youtiao is deep fried and eaten as if done to the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao are often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined along the middle, with one roll representing the husband and the other the wife.[6]


In Indonesia, the fried dough is famously known as cakwe. It's commonly chopped or thinly sliced then eaten for breakfast with Bubur Ayam (chicken porridge) or eaten as snacks with local version of chilli vinaigrette.


In Laos, the youtiao is generally called pah thawng ko (cf. Thai patongkoh) and is commonly eaten with coffee at breakfast in place of a baguette (khao jii).[7] It is also eaten as an accompaniment to chicken noodle soup.[citation needed]

Malaysia and Singapore

In Singapore and Malaysia, it is known in English as you char kway, you char kuay, or u char kway, transliterations of its local Hokkien (Minnan) name (油炸粿 iû-chiā-kóe). It is rendered in Malay as cakoi, an alteration of the Minnan term, "char kway". The Malay version comes with various fillings, which are either sweet, such as red bean paste or savoury, such as sardines fried in tomato sauce. The plain version is usually eaten with coconut and egg jam kaya. Cakoi is usually sold in morning street markets or "pasar malam" night markets.

It is also normally served with Bak kut teh or rice congee, sliced thinly to be dipped into the broth/congee and eaten. Usually Malaysians and Singaporeans like to serve together with coffee or soy milk for breakfast.

Malaysian Indians calls it by the name "aathe kaale" or kaki kambing and usually ate for breakfast. It serves well together with 'kopi o' and ate with 'dhal curry'. This spectacular Chinese dish are sold about RM 0.50 per piece in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia.


The youtiao is also a popular breakfast food in Myanmar (Burma) where it is called e kya kway. It is usually eaten with steamed yellow beans (with salt and oil). It is also usually dipped into coffee or tea. E kya kway is also eaten with rice porridge, or cut into small rings and used as a condiment for mohinga. Tea culture is very prevalent in Myanmar, and every shop will serve e kya kway for breakfast.

Some shops stuff meat into the youtiao and deep fry it over again. It is called e kya kway asar thoot - stuffed e kya kway.


In the Philippines, the youtiao is called bicho (pl. bicho-bicho) although this name can also refer to sweetened, fried dough balls similar to the buñuelo, also called cascaron. In the Visayan region, they call it "sia-koy".


In Taiwan, the food is known by the Hokkien (Taiwanese) name 油炸粿 (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: iû-chiā-kóe/iû-chiā-ké)[4] or by the Standard Mandarin 油條 (pinyin: yóutiáo).


In Thailand, youtiao is generally called pathongko (Thai: ปาท่องโก๋, IPA: [paːtʰɔ̂ŋkǒː]) due to a confusion with a different kind of dessert. Pathongko is a Thai corruption of either Teochew Minnan beh teung guai (白糖粿; Mandarin: bái tángguǒ) or Cantonese of baahktònggòu (白糖糕; Mandarin: bái tánggāo). However, both possible original names are different desserts, not to be confused with the real white sugar sponge cake (白糖糕). It was previously sold together with youtiao by street vendors who normally walked around and shouted both names out loud. However, Thai customers often mistakenly thought that the more popular youtiao was "pathongko". Eventually, the real pathongko disappeared from the market because of its unpopularity. Ironically, the disappearance of real "pathongko" leaves youtiao being called under the former's name, but the latter's real name is generally unknown amongst the Thais. But the original white sugar sponge cake can still be easily found in Trang Province in Southern Thailand under its original name. Both Thailand and Cambodia are relatively neighbors to each other. So this is how they both have similar cuisines in ways.

In Cambodia, it is also used for the cultural delicacies. It is used in rice porridge or noodle soup. The noodle soup is actually like Vietnamese pho. This fried delicacy is dipped into the noodle soup. Most of time this "you tiao" is dipped into the pho. In Thailand, pathongko is also dipped into condensed milk or, in the South, eaten with kaya.


In Vietnamese cuisine, it is known by a name that is a mix of Sino-Vietnamese and native Vietnamese to achieve a pronunciation similar to the Cantonese name, as dầu cháo quỷ or giò cháo quẩy. 油 ("Dầu/giò") 鬼 ("quỷ/quẩy") coming from Sino-Vietnamese (the differences between the two coming from differing dialects dating to before the standardization of Vietnamese) and "cháo" coming from the Vietnamese native word for congee.

Other countries

In Australia it is sometimes called chopstick cake by some Cambodian Chinese immigrants because of its resemblance to a pair of chopsticks. In Indonesia it is called cakue or cakwe (pronounced "chak-way").

See also

Similar Chinese foods

Other similar foods

Notes and references

  1. ^ From Min Nan (Hokkien) 油炸粿 (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: iû-chiā-kóe/ké). Variants include you char kuay and u char kway
  2. ^ From Cantonese 油炸鬼 (yàuhjagwái). Variants include yau cha kwai
  3. ^ "Chinese Breakfast" at Accessed 1 May 2008.
  4. ^ a b 許極燉. 《常用漢字台語詞典》. 台北市: 自立晚報社文化出版部, 1992. (A Taiwanese dictionary with frequently used Chinese characters. Taipei: Independence Evening Post, 1992.) (Chinese)
  5. ^ Similarly, the dish known as chhá-koé-tiâu (炒粿條) in Minnan, kóe-tiâu being the Minnan name for flat rice noodles (literally "(rice) cake strips"), is on Cantonese menus rendered as 炒貴刁 (ja gwaidìu) where the characters 貴刁 (gwaidìu, literally expensive (Surname)) are equally meaningless. See Char koay teow: Etymology for more information.
  6. ^ West Lake, a Collection of Folktales (ISBN 9620400542) page 181.
  7. ^ "Laos: Food and Drink." at CPAMedia. Accessed 30 May 2008.

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