Melbourne's Best Snacks: Chef Tan's Doupi

Published on 3 January 2022

Photo: Chef Tan's doupi (illustration: Yarli Creative).

For the workers of Wuhan, there really is no better way to start the day than with a tool belt-busting slab of doupi. A triple-tier melange of stir-fried pork, glutinous rice, and the doupi, or bean skin, that gives it its name, it’s the fortifying tradie breakfast that puts the bacon-and-egg roll to shame.

Opposite an alleyway construction site, Chef Tan teems with Chinese labourers hoeing down on the bone-sticking staple – a positive indicator for this dish. “In Wuhan, the doupi is gone by 8.30am. If you get up too late, you miss out,” recounts owner Ke Chen.

Made fresh to order, his exemplary rendition starts with a seasoned layer of fatty pork, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, and tofu that fuses to an inch of sticky rice. “The rice has no taste,” he says, “but it draws up the flavour of the pork layer as it cools.”

The rice and pork are then capped with a layer of eggy bean skin, creating a taut film that holds it all together when the doupi is cut and stacked in brownie-sized slabs.

Paired with a bowl of rice wine-charged osmanthus and egg soup, doupi is fuel for the tools, and one of the great unsung regional Chinese breakfasts.

Chef Tan, 8 Downie St, Melbourne and 75 Station St, Burwood

By Frank Sweet

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