Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Bite me: 油条 Fried Sticks

It's safe to say that a important component of Caribbean cuisine is a good fried dough. With names like bakes, floats, johnny cake, festival, fried dumpling you could imagine the confusion when crossing regional borders and having to order breakfast.

Chinese keep it simple. It's directly translated as Oil Stick 油条 which brings to mind a steel pipe covered in old car grease. But don't let the Chinglish scare you. It's actually much more appealing than this.

As you can see from the texture, it's a bit more chewy and puffy especially if cold. This comes from the proportions of flour and water (the dough is very wet when made) and the use of oil instead of butter or lard that Caribbean natives may be used to. It is also very light on salt.

Unlike in the Caribbean, I have never been served this at home. But it is extremely popular at our cafeteria and on the street with rice porridge, boiled or fried egg and pickled vegetables. But only for breakfast. I usually go for a simple steamed bun so this seems to be for those who need a heavy, hearty meal to keep them through the day.

Breakfast from the Cafeteria

When my mom fried bakes at home, I was known to make up to 20 disappear in one sitting. Ours are the flat disc-shaped ones and size was never an issue but you won't catch me eating so many oil sticks now. I mean it's not like Moms is hovering over the bowl waiting to slap away my impatient fingers...but... There is no salted cod here, at least any that appropriate for souse or fish cakes. The last time I smuggled carried some was like a year ago when I tried to fit the whole of Grenada in my suitcase. And what is bakes without salted fish?

Honourary Fish Cake

However, recently my palette has shown signs of softening up, so don't be surprised if you see some new combinations in the near future.

What are your favorite side dishes to bakes, festivals and fried sticks? Let me know below.