Chinese fried food the White House could serve its guests

Fried youtiao.
PHOTO: Thewoksoflife.com

US President Donald Trump has made the headlines so often for so many reasons that individual moments that could have defined any other presidency tend to be lost in the mix.

One such moment was when the Clemson Tigers college football team, after winning their national championship, were served with food from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King during their White House visit.

President Donald Trump – who paid for the feast – is a big fan of fast food.

The US’ confrontational approach to China also defined the Trump administration. Which begs the question, if the administration wanted to follow the “Clemson script” for a Chinese delegation, what should Trump serve?

1. Fried peanuts

PHOTO: Chinasichuanfood.com

Traditionally served with wine, fried peanuts sprinkled with salt have become a common side dish. They keep for a few days, so people cook large batches and store them in sealed bottles.

2. Small crispy pork (xiaosurou)

PHOTO: Thewoksoflife.com

This common appetiser in northern and southwestern China is also called “little crispy meat.” While it tastes fantastic, it can be a little intense since the pork is covered with black pepper powder before frying. It is prevalent at hotpot restaurants in Sichuan and Chongqing.

People eat it while waiting for the hotpot to heat up. It can also be put into the pot as an addition to the broth. In other places, people add the dish to the broth when cooking noodles.

3. Dough sticks (youtiao)

PHOTO: Gourmandize.com

This long deep-fried strip of dough is one of the most popular breakfast items in China. They are light, airy and pleasantly chewy. People in China queue up early in the morning to buy them.

Youtiao is usually eaten with rice congee or soy milk blended with milk. In the Yangtze River Delta area near Shanghai it is often chopped into smaller pieces and accompanied with soy sauce. In northern China, locals dip it into tofu jelly.

4. Fried chicken strips

PHOTO: Thespruceeats.com

KFC is very popular in China, and this is a local take on popcorn chicken. Thin chicken strips are fried and packed in small paper bags. Most customers ask for the cooks to sprinkle the chicken with cumin or chilli powder.

It is one of the most popular street food snacks. Some people have said on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, that one of their favourite childhood memories is walking home from school with their friends and eating fried chicken strips.

5. Deep fried radish cake (youdunzi)

PHOTO: Dimsumcentral.com

Fried radish cake is a traditional Shanghai breakfast item and street snack. Many stalls are operated by elderly couples who have been running their business for decades.

The fried, oily cake is made of starch mash mixed with white radish threads and chopped spring onions. The traditional recipe also contains small shrimps, but that is less common. The Asian radish is much milder than the red variety found in the West.

There is also an Asian-American variant, called a “submarine,” which was named by the Chinese community in the United States to attract American customers.

The name describes the cooking method, which involves a chunk of the starch mash falling to the bottom of the oil pot, to float to the surface when it’s cooked.

6. Shrimp crackers

PHOTO: Thethingswellmake.com

They look potato crisps, but are made from starch mixed with shrimp juice. They used to be served during Chinese New Year at family gatherings. The crackers are usually served in different colours.

These days, fried shrimp chips are enjoyed all year round and are found in most supermarkets.

7. Spring rolls (chunjuan)

PHOTO: Dinnerthendessert.com

Chunjuan are known in the West as spring rolls. The fillings include meat and vegetables, just vegetables and even sweetened bean paste.

8. Fried pork chops

PHOTO: Noobcook.com

This food is a must-have dish for every Shanghai family. The pork chops are tenderised then cut into strips, immersed in soy sauce mixed with salt, wine and pepper powder. Then they are covered with breadcrumbs and deep-fried.

Unlike its counterparts in Taiwan and Japan, the fried pork chops in Shanghai are fried in a block instead of cut into smaller pieces. This dish is served dry, or with ketchup or a favourite sauce.

9. Fried insects

PHOTO: Reuters

Fried insects are popular across Asia. In China, they are not hard to find in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Guizhou as well as eastern Shandong province.

Insects include cicadas, locusts, bamboo worms, centipedes, spiders, scorpions and live silkworm chrysalises.

10. Fried banana

PHOTO: Pinterest

People joke that this snack was invented on the logic that “everything can be deep fried.”

The cooking method for this dish is simple: Peel the banana. Dunk it into egg. Cover it in breadcrumbs and cook the banana in boiling oil.

It is served in restaurants as a dessert, and often eaten at night markets.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.