Patongko: fried bread stick

Patongko: the fried bread stick

Patongko: the fried bread stick

At almost every market in Thailand you can find someone who is producing patongko (ปาท่องโก๋), the Chinese fried bread stick. Patongko seems to be a morning snack. At most fresh food markets I have been to, patongko is often sold out at around 0700.

The dough is cut in small pieces and then fried in oil in a wok. The “cook” uses chopsticks to move them around in the hot oil. There are a couple of varieties of patongko. Patongko is sold  with soy milk but also eaten with rice porridge (khao tom). Main ingredients are dough, salt, sugar and water.

Man picking up cookies
man serving Chinese dumplings at Kao Chao Market

The Chinese influence in Thai food

Chinese immigration to the area which we now call Thailand, started as early as the 13th century. British sinologist Victor Purcell quoted Leon Rosmy’s estimate of the population of Siam in 1884 as follows: 5,9 million, including 1.6 million Siamese, 1.5 million Chinese, 1 million Malays, and 1 million Laos. Thailand is now home the largest overseas Chinese community in the world outside China. According to some experts at least 40 percent of the Thai population have partial Chinese ancestry. It is therefor no wonder that many Thai dishes are of Chinese origin. Patongko is one of them. It is a shorter version of a Chinese doughnut stick, called Youtiao.

Girl serving donuts

Fried bread sticks 

The Chinese fried bread stick has become increasingly popular in the “selfie age”. A Ton Keng shop at the Tonlamyai Market in Chiang Mai now sells the fried bread stick in different designs of animals. You can buy dragons, crocodiles, elephants and frogs. Thai TV and other news media have featured this shop so it has become very popular with local tourists. The shop has two outlets. On the Ping River side is a small shop. The original shop is just around the corner. We will take you there.