Kok Zai (Peanut Puffs)
Chinese New Year is round the corner! Besides the ever-popular pineapple tart, there is one other New Year snack that’s been around for a long time and is a favourite among the young and old. And that is the humble peanut puff also known as kok zai.
Kok Zai is a simple mini fried puff with an outer wrap made from flour, water and oil. Some recipes use egg in place of water. Both serve the same purpose – to bind the rest of the ingredients together. As for the filling, it is usually a mixture of ground roasted peanuts and sugar. I really enjoy eating kok zai, because it is one of the few snacks made without any dairy products (since I’m lactose-intolerant!)
150g nuts (peanuts and almonds)
50g caster sugar
Toast nuts for 10 to 13 minutes in a preheated oven (180 degrees Celsius) till light golden brown. Allow to cool. Grind and mix with sugar.
Sanyo EMO-SRT1: I bought this Sanyo oven in 2001 and it has been serving me well all these years, never once breaking down. It's used several times a day, because in my household, we bake our own bread, and we use this oven to heat up our food too (it also has a microwave function).
Braun 300 Watt grinder: This grinder was passed to me by my aunt. I use it to grind nuts and mash fruit. There were times when midway through baking, I found that I'd run out of caster sugar. Out of desperation, I took some coarse granulated sugar (the cheaper type that is used for cooking) and ground it using my Braun. Worked like a charm; the sugar turned out superfine and soft!
Video: Preparing Nut filling (by Oi Lin)
280g Hong Kong flour or cake flour
8 tbsp peanut oil
4 tbsp water
Mix flour and oil. Add water gradually. Knead till smooth. Roll thinly and cut out round shapes. Wet edges and put filling. Pinch and shape.
Fry in 180 degrees Celsius peanut oil for 8 to 9 minutes till golden brown.
I mixed peanuts and almonds for a more interesting filling. You can use all peanuts if you wish.
Add water to the dough if it is too dry. Add flour if it is too sticky.
Keep dough covered with a damp cloth because it tends to dry out fast. If it gets too dry, sprinkle a little water over the dough and knead.
Video: Shaping the Kok Zai
Philips Cucina Deep-fryer
Philips Cucina: I usually do my deep-frying over the stove with a small pot and would end up smelling like a fried snack myself, especially my hair and clothes! And the kitchen and living room would end up smelling as well.
Today’s the first time I’m using this Philips Cucina Deep Fryer HD6151.
1. First I poured in oil till the minimum level (the minimum ‘line’ is etched in the pot). Then I switched it on and set the temperature to 180 degrees Celsius. To test if the oil is hot enough, I dipped in a piece of dough. If bubbles form around it, the oil is ready.
2. I fried about 8 pieces of kok zai at a time. I set the timer to 5 minutes and simply let the kok zai fry away. Meanwhile, I busied myself with other things. When the timer sounded at the end of 5 minutes, I used a pair of long chopsticks to turn the kok zai over so that both sides would be fried equally. Then I set the timer and let them fry for another 4 minutes. At the end of the 4 minutes, I removed the kok zai. They were PERFECTLY done. Crisp and yummy! And the best thing was - after all that frying, I did not smell like a kok zai myself!
There was a lot of leftover oil. I’m quite particular about NOT using oil that’s been fried so many times that it looks dark brown. It is very unhealthy to consume it. But the deep-fryer came with a container made of very thick plastic specially for holding cooking oil. At the top of this container was a fine mesh for filtering used cooking oil. This makes the oil clear and free of burnt bits. The oil was really quite clear after being filtered and can be used again, so it doesn’t go to waste.
Video: Philips Cucina Deep-fryer
Egg Tart (Dan Tart)
Char Siew Soh
Char Siew Soh
Crystal Jade Snacks: These egg tarts and char siew soh (pork puffs) were a gift from a relative. They were bought from Crystal Jade and they sure look yummy! The egg tart was flaky and the custard filling was smooth, silky and not too sweet. The char siew soh was yummy too – sweet and meaty. And the pastry was just heavenly! I wonder how they do it. The pastry is flaky and tender and yet it holds everything together. Good stuff!