How the world’s biggest puff pastry is made in China
The puff pastry that’s made in this tiny little town in northern China has become a culinary phenomenon in its own right, as it’s become a staple in the city of Shenzhen, which has become one of the most populous and economically successful cities in China.
“I started to eat it, I was hooked,” says Li Xin, who is a chef and pastry chef.
“When I was in college, I’d be walking by the market, and I’d ask my friends if they had the best puff pastry in town, and they’d all say yes, and that’s how I started my career.”
It’s a phenomenon that started with Li Xin’s mother, who was a pastry chef, and his dad, who worked in a pastry factory, and a few other relatives.
Li Xin says his parents were able to support him financially during his childhood and his career in food.
“They helped me financially during my education, so when I went to college, they helped me out financially,” Li Xin said.
Li’s family has since gone through many hardships.
Li, who lives in the same village as his dad and mother, moved to Shenzhen in 2008 from Guangdong province, but it wasn’t until Li’s mother passed away in 2012 that he finally became able to afford to live in the capital, Shenzhen.
“She didn’t have any money, so we had to raise our children,” Li said.
The Chinese term for puff pastry, “shui qi” or “losing the struggle,” means the life that’s left after a family has had a hard time.
“If I have my job, I have a roof over my head, and everything is going good,” Li told The Washington Post.
“My father has a big home in Shenzhen with his wife, so he has no problems, and we have plenty of money.”
So I started to cook for my mother and my grandmother, and one day they brought home a puff pastry.
“The pastry that Li Xin cooks is called “baiyong” and it’s made of a dough that’s baked on a stone, and then covered with sugar.
“But it’s not a slow cook. “
It’s like a slow cooker,” Li explained.
“But it’s not a slow cook.
It’s really like cooking over a slow fire.”
It takes about three hours for a puff to cook, but “you can see it turning a little brown,” he said.
After that, the puff pastry takes about 20 minutes to finish.
“After that, you can taste it,” Li added.
The puff is then left in a pan for 10 minutes.
“You can see the bubbles pop, and you can smell the sweet and sour.”
After 10 minutes, Li said the pastry should be cooked through, and the finished product is called baiyou.
The recipe was written down by his mother and father when they were cooking baiys.
“We cooked for years, but they never told us how to cook,” Li recalled.
“Because they never asked, they never took us to see our grandmothers.
They didn’t teach us, they didn’t tell us anything.”
Li and his family were able, thanks to the help of his grandparents, to open their own pastry shop, Li Xin Puff Pies, which serves bai you, bai-you, and baijiu, a traditional Chinese dish of fried tofu stuffed with puff pastry.
“People here know us from our bai ji, baisai, and taro,” he added.
“The most important thing about us is we don’t try to copy other people’s style.”
Li Xin opened his shop with his family and it became a staple for his neighborhood, which is home to around 1.3 million people.
“Right now, it’s a big success,” he told The Post.
He has even gotten requests from other local restaurants.
“Every time we open a new restaurant, it gets sold out,” he says.
Li also started to sell his baijie, which he describes as a traditional style of puff pastry called bao-jie.
“So if you see bao jie in the corner, you know we have something new,” he explained.
But what sets the baiie apart from the bao is the filling.
Li said he has been selling baiyao, or puff pastry with a filling of sour cream and a cinnamon stick, since 2008, and it has quickly become a popular filling.
“A lot of people have been asking me to make baijao, baojiu bai, baosu bao, bainan bai,” he shared.
“And I’m always willing to do that.
I just think it’s something special.”
Li has become the go-to vendor for baiye, or baiyu, bhaiye, b