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Eating local: 稀豆粉和油条

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

Had it again this morning. After an early session at the gym, I was heading to the wet market to pick up some strawberries and ground meat. On impulse, ducked into one of my favorite places for what I suppose you could call a simple, down-home brunch.

 

This small specialty shop 专营店 only has about 12 tables and their pride and joy is a type of creamed soybean porridge that they make upstairs. Called 稀豆粉,it's popular throughout Yunnan and originated here, but I'm pretty sure one can get it in other parts of China as well.

 

post-20301-0-36412900-1483939102_thumb.jpg

 

According to Baidu, it's made from grinding a type of white peas and boiling them in a copper pot. Then you garnish it at the table and add an assortment of complimentary spices. You eat it with 油条 Chinese fried bread sticks. The ones here are made right in front of your eyes, fast fried in a wok of very hot oil. Light, crispy 松脆, and delicious.

 

post-20301-0-24685800-1483939183_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-97721900-1483939192_thumb.jpg 

 

Here's what the setup looks like:

 

post-20301-0-28338500-1483939308_thumb.jpg

 

Dry condiments include salt, sugar, ground chili pepper 辣椒粉,and MSG 味精。They also provide some wet ones, which this morning were ground fresh ginger 姜蓉, crushed garlic 蒜泥, and 花椒油 prickly ash oil. A couple small bowls of greens provided scallions and cilantro as additional garnish.

 

post-20301-0-67385200-1483939853_thumb.jpg   post-20301-0-99950500-1483939863_thumb.jpg

 

Dress your bowl to your liking, cut up your youtiao 油条 with scissors, and dunk the short segments into the porridge, letting them soak a few seconds if you can stand the wait. I usually have two youtiao for one bowl of xidoufen, and that's what is pictured here.

 

Of course you can also have the youtiao with doujiang 豆浆 fresh soy milk, and they serve warm bowls of that here as well. This place has had a steady local clientelle for about 20 years, according to an elderly retired professor with whom I shared a table last year in late fall.

 

Total damage: 5 Yuan. Hard to beat as a way to start your day right.

 

(As always, you can click the photos to enlarge them.)

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Bigdumogre    33
Bigdumogre

Your threads always makes me hungry

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

Good that they make you hungry! I see you are in New York. I wonder if one can find this combo in NY's huge and wonderful Chinatown. Probably can find 豆浆 and 油条。The trick will be finding them freshly made and not too expensive.

 

Part of what I like about these small eateries here is that you can watch them make things fresh and then eat them 60 seconds later while they are still warm. The little shop, described above, has had the wisdom to only make a half-dozen items. Instead of trying to diversify, they concentrate on doing a few things very well. 

 

I had 小笼包 there once, but they were nothing special.

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Shelley    1,144
Shelley

Once again you manage to combine food and culture and paint a picture of "normal" eating habits.

 

I think it is good that they specialise in a few things done well. It also allows several small food stalls/stores to operate and not compete but gives the customer diversity and choice.

 

Thanks again :)

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

could not edit post -- deleted duplicate

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

could not edit post -- deleted duplicate

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

could not edit post -- deleted duplicate

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

You're welcome, Shelley. And that's a good observation; the shop next door 小吃店 specializes in rice noodles 米线。The two owners are friends; actually distant relatives from what they have said. (I'm never sure whether to take these "relatedness" terms literally or to just understand them figuratively.)

Once last year I had my usual dish of 稀豆粉 with two 油条 and then absentmindedly left without paying. Remembered it later, so I returned the next day. Gave the boss lady the money and apologized. "No big deal," she smiled and said. "You could have just paid me the next time you came in."

Left me with a warm feeling, almost like I was a trusted member of the family.

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg

Moderator -- wound up with the same post 4 times. Could you kindly delete the three now-empty ones. Thanks.

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Bigdumogre    33
Bigdumogre

Good that they make you hungry! I see you are in New York. I wonder if one can find this combo in NY's huge and wonderful Chinatown. Probably can find 豆浆 and 油条。The trick will be finding them freshly made and not too expensive.

Part of what I like about these small eateries here is that you can watch them make things fresh and then eat them 60 seconds later while they are still warm. The little shop, described above, has had the wisdom to only make a half-dozen items. Instead of trying to diversify, they concentrate on doing a few things very well.

I had 小笼包 there once, but they were nothing special.

I will be on the lookout for it

We have 2 huge Chinatowns now and one up and coming

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somethingfunny    364
somethingfunny

Ah 油条, truly the breakfast of kings.  I've had it deep fried from frozen and dipped in sugar at KFC and served up like a delicacy in a fancy Guangzhou tea house.  But you've hit the nail on the head - a humble eatery and a bowl of, in my case, 豆浆 simply cannot be beaten.

 

They have them in Chinatown here but I only see them stacked up in the window looking all tired and soggy.  Like you, I want mine freshly made right in front of me.  Is that so much to ask?

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abcdefg    2,380
abcdefg
They have them in Chinatown here but I only see them stacked up in the window looking all tired and soggy.  Like you, I want mine freshly made right in front of me.  Is that so much to ask?

 

This small shop uses a very large wok of extremely hot oil, and they put the youtiao-making part of the operation right at the entrance behind glass so that incoming patrons cannot miss seeing the process in action. (See photos in first post, above.)

 

One cook preps the dough, rolling, folding, cutting and letting it rise, and then gently lowers slim tender strings of it into the oil one at a time. Another cook watches them and takes them out with long wooden chopsticks at just the right level of "done-ness," carefully placing them into a draining basket.

 

They never get more than 8 or 10 youtiao ahead of demand. These have lots of "hollow" in their middle instead of being dense like those from KFC, and fit the Chinese descriptor word perfectly: 松脆 (maybe translated as "loosely crisp" or "gently crisp.") They have a little crunch, but do not require chewing effort like a bagel would for example. When you bite into one, it gives way easily and without struggle.

 

They keep large new plastic jugs of the oil near the front entrance as well. I think they are intended to give mute testimony to the fact that they use a good quality cooking oil instead of something recycled.

 

Like you, Somethingfunny, I used to have them with 豆浆, but once tried the 稀豆粉 when I went with a local Chinese friend, and that converted me to being a fan this mostly-Yunnan porridge product.

 

This fine, if tiny, establishment closes a little after lunch. It makes no attempt at meeting the needs of the supper crowd. It's a short walk from a university campus, though I seldom see many students there.

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Alex_Hart    143
Alex_Hart

Looks yummy. Had something similar in Suzhou, sort of, but with 豆花. Same set up, however: get your 豆花 either salty or sweet, then add your condiments (vinegar there). They also sold some delicious 饼,油条 and 茶叶蛋. If you didn't want to eat there, they could put your 豆花 into a plastic cup minus the condiments.

 

For the New Yorkers, there is a place in Flushing that sells freshly fried 油条 across from the public library. I have no idea what the name of it is, nor am I really sure if it has a name. Look for a tiny glass doorway wedged between other shops and a steady flow of people going in and out. The Chinese name escapes me, but they're better known for their "rolling donkey" rolls. Inside are two or three different shops which specialize in different things, including one who used to sell 豆浆,fresh油条,粥, etc. It's been awhile and Flushing is always changing, so I'm not sure if it's still there. They always had a very brisk business going on, however. 

 

Their 油条 don't quite live up to what I had in Chengdu, which were often handed to you still too hot too touch. But they were decent. 

 

Been meaning to try making my own 油条 lately. Not overly fond of using oil in the kitchen, so may continue to just dream of it. 

As always, beautiful (and appetizing) pictures! 

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