Want to know my favorite street food/snack in Bangkok?

Not this…

Or this…

But what is this you see here? Could it be? For real? YOU TIAO!!! =) If you live in Hawaii or parts of LA, you’ve probably eaten your share of you tiao with a morning bowl of jook. Most you tiao I’ve had comes in the form of long sticks about a foot long and an inch or two in diameter. The stick is cut into bit size pieces so that they bob around quite nicely in the jook or bowl of hot noodle soup. It’s a big hassle to make at home with all the frying, so the only time I have you tiao is at restaurant. BUT I’VE NEVER HAD IT ON THE STREET. AND I’VE NEVER HAD IT FRIED IN INDIVIDUAL PIECES. Which makes this vendor quite special to me. He operates in Bangkok’s Chinatown and comes out in the afternoon, maybe 5pm or so, just as the night markets start to open up for dinner business.

As you can see here, you tiao is rather labor intensive, given the fact that he works on a stand near the busy streets of Bangkok. Cars and bikes whiz by constantly and the traffic never stops. It’s dusty here, and dirty, so you might be inclined to wonder about the sanitary conditions of your food. In such cases you are better not thinking and just eating. Mix the dough, let it proof, shape, stretch, cut and then…

FRY! Oh yes, fry let it fry in the hot bubbling vat of golden oil!! It’s exciting to watch this all take place, as long as you don’t mind the sweltering summer heat and traffic noise, and dirty streets. But as you watch him fry each individual nugget, turning it from a limp piece of beige dough to a marvelous puffy, crispy creation, nothing…well almost nothing, in the world seems to matter.

And viola, here you go! A bucket of you tiao. If you eat one, it is very, very good. If you eat five, you start to feel sick. So maybe two or three at a time is good, yeah? But eat it while it’s hot, or don’t bother eating it at all. Bit into and tear apart that thin layer of crackly skin, so perfect, you’d almost mistake it for roasted pig skin (minus the porky flavor that is!), and then inside, is hot and doughy, but not the least bit underdone . It’s just barely savory,, but not sweet, though I could imagine how good this could be with just a bit if sugar added in the dough – you tiao gone dessert? I’ll let you know if I ever decide to make that at home! :)

  • J. Lo
    June 27, 2007

    you tiao dessert style? SOUNDS WONDERFUL! Mmmm. Just to let you know, I’m back on the food blog scene. After a long hiatus, it feels nice to write about food again. :)

  • kelly
    June 28, 2007

    Things off the street just TASTE better! I swear, chefs should add a dash of dirt from the street to all their recipes.

  • Alice
    June 29, 2007

    Ahhh, you tiao brings back so many childhood memories of breakfast. My parents always liked it with homemade soy milk, but I happily ate it by itself. I used to toast it just a little bit, mmm.

  • Kat
    June 30, 2007

    Hi Kathy! I think I saw you at the Apple store last night! Did you buy a new iPhone? I was with my husband and I was like “OMG! I recognize her from that blog I always read!” I would have said “hi” but I was afraid you’d think I was some weirdo! : )Anyway, thanks for the great posting : )Oh, and I REALLY felt bad for the guy who had been waiting for the iPhone since 5am. I was at the mall at 9am and saw him waiting and then we went back around 8pm to buy a new iMac and they said they had “plenty” of iPhones left ^_^”’

  • Kathy YL Chan
    June 30, 2007

    Hey Justin!oooh, I’m going over to your blog right now! you better be eating plenty in singapore! :)Kelly!lol, I’m so envious of you all in DC…and your pink house! :)Hey Alice!oooh, I love you tiao with soy milk! I don’t know of any restuarants in hawaii that serve it that way, but it’s always on the top of my list of things to eat whenever I go to LA! :)Hey Kat!noooo, you should have said HI!!! :) i just commented on your blog, that store was so busy, i hope that man gets his iphone. i couldn’t imagine spending that much on a phone, you could almost buy a new comp for that price…almost, lol! Enjoy your new imac! :)

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