Crispy, crunchy and… creaky? The traditional Beijing snack gēzhi 咯吱 lives up to its name given it literally means ‘creak’. The sensation you get if you pop a piece in your mouth and crush its dozen layers of thin deep-fried dough.
Gezhi are light in taste, with mild seasoning, but big on that crispy crunch. (Think of it as a thinner version of dry Corn Flakes.)
According to ye olde Internet, gēzhi was first created by rolling up strips of stale Shandong-style jianbing — thinner and crisper than the Tianjin style we usually find in Beijing — and frying them, since these could be preserved for a long time. Per Visit Beijing:
“During the construction of the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou, there were plenty of workers coming from Shangdong Province. They brought their local snack, Shandong pancake, as working lunch. However, because of humid weather, pancakes which were supposed to be crispy became soft. Creative people tried to cut pancakes into small size and fried them in boiling oil, making the food taste crispy again and can be preserved for longer time.”
I get my gezhi from a shop near our compound, which also sells roujiamo 肉夹馍, baozi and lots more, for 10 kuai for the small size and 20 kuai for the large ones.
It’s a nice snack while working or drinking beer. And more recently, I’ve been adding it to yogurt. I’m not a fan of yogurt’s texture and like it thicken it with nuts, seeds and, recently, gezhi.
What to call this combo? Maybe a spin on ‘yogurt’, like 有咯吱 yǒugēzhī, which translates to ‘have creak’, or 唷咯吱 yō gē zhī. Anyway, 加油咯吱 go, creak!
By the way, if you want ample creak in your yogurt / yogezhi, best to eat it quick before they get soggy.
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