I came across a friend's blog post
and was inspired to make my own 角仔 for the Lunar New Year. The name literally means "little corners", referring to their shape. I've never considered what an English translation for these might be, so I was amused by the most common name that is used: peanut puff. In previous years, my parents used to get a jar full of them from a family friend, or we bought them from a store. It hadn't occurred to me that these were a new year's tradition. That is, if you had asked me what kinds of foods are eaten at Chinese New Year, kok chai
would not have been on my list.
In looking for a recipe, I came across half a dozen different ones with significant differences in the wrapper dough. Some included water, some had lots of egg, some used oil and some used lard. I decided on Sunflower's recipe
since her slideshow of the process impressed me. After the resting period, the dough was crumbly and totally unsuitable for rolling. I tossed this dough and went hunting for a recipe that incorporated water into the dough and settled on this one
from Lily. Her version was the basis for mine and this dough turned out perfectly soft and pliable:
- 300 g all-purpose flour
- 70 g potato starch (or rice flour)
- 120 g vegetable shortening (I used Earth Balance)
- 100 mL cold water
- 1 large egg
As for the filling, I adapted Sunflower's recipe to make my own, adding coconut which my family likes. The first step was to roast the peanuts (from Picard's Peanuts
) in a toaster oven, which I also used to toast the sesame seeds and the coconut. I ground the sesame in a suribachi
and pulverized the coconut and peanuts in a food processor.
- 125 g roasted peanuts
- 30 g toasted sesame seeds
- 25 g toasted shredded coconut
- 60 g sugar
Rolling the dough was quite easy with a bit of flour on the table to prevent sticking. I didn't have the right-sized cookie cutter, so ended up using the bottom of a plastic measuring cup (that's why there's a round indentation). Filling was tricky: it was hard to get a lot in without tearing the wrapper skin. We kept the rolled dough under a damp towel, and did the same for the crimped puffs.
While I was at the supermarket, I stood in the aisle with my smartphone looking up the best oils for deep-frying. I settled on buying two 750mL bottles of grapeseed oil, partly because it's supposed to be very neutral and clean-tasting, as well as having a high smoke point, and partly because I had never used it before. Once we had two dozen or so puffs made, we started to heat the oil. All the recipes I looked up said "medium heat" for the oil temperature. When my thermometer read 350°F, Dr. S started dropping the puffs in. They took almost 10 minutes to achieve a golden brown colour. We had to fiddle with the gas flame to keep the temperature constant. At certain points, the oil got as hot as 400°F.
I didn't count how many we made: probably about five dozen or so. The pastry was nice and flaky, not crunchy like the ones I've eaten in the past. The filling was a little meagre: next time, I would make the puffs a bit bigger to achieve a better ratio of crust to filling. While these were a lot of work, the end result is a very tasty, fried treat, quite a bit better than the store-bought version. So it's worth it to make once a year.
P.S. We don't deep-fry that often, so I didn't try to re-use the oil. The pot went straight outside to sit on top of several inches of ice and snow on our deck. After four or five days at -15°C or so, the liquid was a little more viscous and was emptied into a bag to put into the Green Bin.