My mom used to hold a joint birthday celebration for my sister and me, as our birthdays are 4 days apart; hers on 13 October, mine on 17 October. My mom would make stuffed “you tiao” aka fried crullers only on special occasions, and our birthday parties were one of those occasions. So, this dish holds a special meaning to me, with mixed feelings of frustration and joy, considering that the party was always held on my sister’s birthday as my mom insisted that birthdays can only be celebrated earlier, but not later.
Traditionally, the stuffed “you tiao” consisted of squid paste and chunks of prawns, cilantro/coriander, spring onions, and seasoned with sesame oil, pepper, fish sauce. This is my veganized version replacing the squid paste and prawns with tofu and vegan ground beef. It is not an exact substitution, as I have not figured out how to duplicate the “sponginess” aka “Q-Q” characteristic of the squid and prawn. Still, this is still very delicious and it’s Boy-Approved!