The Cantonese name ''yàuhjagwái'' literally means "oil-fried ghost" and, according to folklore, is an act of protest against official , who is said to have orchestrated the plot to frame the general Yue Fei, an icon of patriotism in . It is said that the food, originally taking the form of two deep-fried human-shaped dough but later evolved two doughs joining in the middle, represents Qin Hui and his wife, both having a hand in collaborating with the enemy to bring about the great general's demise. Thus the youtiao is deep fried and eaten as if done to the traitorous couple. In keeping with the legend, youtiao are often made as two foot-long rolls of dough joined along the middle, with one roll representing the husband and the other the wife.
Although generally known as ''yóutiáo'' throughout China, it is also known as ''guǒzi'' in . In -speaking areas it is known as ''yàuhjagwái'' which literally means "oil-fried devil".
The word ''yàuhjagwái'' is said by some to be a corruption of ''yàuhja Kúi'' . There are said to be several possible explanations involving this etymology:
* 檜 and 鬼 were pronounced similarly in the Chinese of the time, and the corruption occurred when the dish is spread to southern provinces, where the pronunciation differs.
* Qin Hui's actions caused a deep-rooted hatred that persisted despite his death. The dish's name changed ''yàuhjagwái'', with the word "ghost" referring to spirits of Qin and his wife.
* the population were afraid to openly declare their contempt towards the corrupt official when he was still in power; nevertheless, the food's name became a tool in expressing contempt.
* the Mandarin name ''yóuzhá Huì'' was subsequently shortened to ''yóuhuì'' and evolved into ''yóutiáo'', because of the shape.
However, a more likely explanation is that the name is a corruption of the Minnan name 油炸粿 , where 粿 means cake or pastry, hence "oil-fried cake/pastry".
The youtiao is also a popular breakfast food in Burma where it is called ''e kya kway''.
In Laos, the youtiao is generally called ''pah thawng ko'' and is commonly eaten with coffee at breakfast in place of a baguette . It is also eaten as an accompaniment to chicken noodle soup.
Malaysia and Singapore
In Singapore and Malaysia, it is known in English as you char kway, you char kuay, or u char kway, transliterations of its local name . It is rendered in as ''cakoi''.
In the Philippines, the youtiao is called ''bitsu'' although this name can also refer to sweetened, fried dough balls similar to the ''bunuelo'', also called ''cascaron''.
In Taiwan, the food is known by the Minnan name 油炸粿 or by the Mandarin ''yóutiáo''.
In Thailand, youtiao is generally called ''patongkoh'' due to a confusion with a different kind of dessert. ''Patongkoh'' is a Thai corruption of either Minnan ''beh teung guai'' or of ''baahktònggòu'' . However, both possible original names are different desserts, not to be confused with the real . It was previously sold together with youtiao by who normally walked around and shouted both names out loud. However, Thai customers often mistakenly thought that the more popular youtiao was ''"patongkoh"''. Eventually, the real ''patongkoh'' disappeared from the market because of its unpopularity. Ironically, the disappearance of real ''"patongkoh"'' leaves youtiao being called under the former's name, but the latter's real name is generally unknown amongst the Thais. But the original white sugar sponge cake can still be easily found in Trang Province in Southern Thailand under its original name.
In Vietnamese cuisine, it is known through a corruption of the pronunciation of the Cantonese name, as ''d?u cháo qu?'' or ''giò cháo qu?y''.
In Australia it is sometimes called chopstick cake by some Cambodian Chinese immigrants because of its resemblance to a pair of chopsticks.
Culinary applications and variants
At breakfast, ''youtiao'' can be stuffed inside ''shāobǐng'' to make a sandwich known as shāobǐng yóutiáo . Youtiao wrapped in a rice noodle roll is known as ''zháliǎng''. Youtiao is also an important ingredient of the food ''Cífàn tuán'' in Shanghai cuisine.
''Tánggāo'' , or "sugar cake", is a sweet, fried food item similar in appearance to youtiao but shorter in length.
Similar Chinese foods
Similar other foods