Ba si, deep-fried candied bits of fruit or tuber—apple, sweet potato, or taro—are a favorite end to meals in Flushing’s many Dongbei restaurants. The golden brown chunks are encased in a sticky molten coating that hardens when dipped in the accompanying bowl of ice water, sending forth filaments of pulled sugar. So when I saw the above package of honey sweet potato in the freezer case at J Mart, I was overcome by the prospect of having this wonderful dish at home, via microwave no less.
I forgot all about the ba si for a few months and came across them the other day. The thought of candied sweet potato for breakfast danced in my head as I placed the tray in the microwave. Some five minutes later it was ready. The end product looked nothing like the picture on the package. No golden brown shell in sight, not a hint of sugar syrup. Piping hot they tasted of American Thanksgiving and disappointment. That did not stop me from eating five or six pieces.
When it comes to the finer points of Chinese cookery some things are best left to restaurants. I have a feeling I will find myself at Fu Run or Yi Lin Halal some time in the very near future for a proper plate of ba si.