“What do Chinese families have for breakfast?” This is a common question and one that is very difficult to answer. There are just too many varieties! However, if I had to choose one particular dish, Chinese doughnut sticks (Youtiao, 油条) would be the one synonymous with breakfast across the country.
Youtiao is a traditional Chinese breakfast. Essentially, it’s deep-fried, leavened dough that has a slightly salty, bitter flavour and an airy, fluffy texture. In English, a variety of words are used to name it, such as Chinese cruller, Chinese oil stick, Chinese donut, Chinese fried dough stick, Chinese churro, etc.
Youtiao is always served with some soup or milk to complete the meal. However, different areas have different ways to eat youtiao. In Beijing, the perfect match for Youtiao is soy milk. Once the breadstick soaks in the soy milk, the fluffy texture will absorb the soy milk thus creating a very special taste. In the Henan province, people prefer to eat youtiao with hot pepper soup or spicy soup (hulatang) which is salty and spicy. Youtiao soaked in soup is a delicious combination.