Last night, Tastio introduced a much loved Tianjin snack: Pan fried “Ear” flat rice cake. (天津 耳朵 炸餅 per DSW staff, official Wiki name: 耳朵眼炸糕) and I happened to be there for the serendipitous first tasting. After googling various combinations to death, I finally found a Chinese wiki of said snack: http://www.hudong.com/wiki/%E8%80%B3%... . Pan fried “Earwax” flat cake was invented by Tianjin's Mr. 刘万春 (Liu Wan Chun) in 1892, when he dished out about 30 lbs of these glutinous rice cakes on a daily basis. As business grew and his sons joined the store, they sold upwards of 200 lbs of fried rice cakes a day and quadrupled during holidays. The shop abutted an extremely narrow (1 meter wide) alley, colloquially known as an “alley the width of earwax”, hence the cake became well known as “earwax fried cake”.
Here, in the US, for the sake of not grossing out the readers and eaters, Dean Sin World will serve up the chewy golden goodness as long as you point to your ear, and not pick your earwax.
“Earwax” rice cake is now known as part of the 3 specialty foods of Tiajin, and was voted by the Chinese government as a National Treasure Snack in 1997. These cakes are known for 4 qualities: yellowness, softness, stretchiness, pungency. Yellowness translated to the outer crisp, which is not quite crunchy, softness equates to not over pan frying the glutinous rice, stretchiness is another obvious feature of all things glutinous and pungency is the aroma released from frying carbohydrates. Each ear flat cake weighs on the average 60-80grams (2-3 ounces) and may contain various stuffings: chocolate, Osmanthus flower, jujube, and the more traditional red bean paste.
At Tastio, the “earwax” flat cakes were inspired by Mrs. He, a Tianjin native, who works along Mrs. Lu. They’re flat yet plump, with a thin layer of red bean paste. Koreans will say this resembles “ho dduk”, but the texture and shape is much more uniform, and fried with very little oil, at a lower temperature. Overall, it’s a more delicate product sporting less sweetness, and a balanced crisp, chewy texture.
Bottom line: think hot fried mochi, cheap, with red bean paste center.
For complete DSW write up, peep: http://sinosoul.com/2009/09/dean-sin-...
Nota bene: not affil'd with DSW in any way.
Dean Sin World
306 N Garfield Ave # 2, Monterey Park, CA