Stories abound about why the Chinese name of this pastry relates to horses. Some say it involved a horse-riding general, Sa, and his love for the snack; others say it was (and still is) a popular snack at the racecourse in Hong Kong because its pronunciation is similar to the Cantonese word meaning "horse-racing gamester". At any rate, This treat is made from thin strips of deep-fried dough (not unlike Rice Krispies) bound by honey or maltose syrup. Serve them cut into small squares as petits fours, or slice into two thin rectangles and fill with scoops of ice-cream (green tea and taro flavours work well) for an Asian take on an ice-cream sandwich.
Ringing in the lunar new year, we talk the best of bao and the buns with the most fun in Wilson Chung's beginner's guide to the greatest hits of our Chinese bakeries.