You could call this kok zai (角仔), yau kok (油角), or yau kok zai (油角仔). It all refers to the same thing, that is, a crunchy mini puff filled with sugar and crushed peanuts. This mini peanut puff is a popular Cantonese Chinese New Year snack. Like most CNY snacks, it has an auspicious representation. The crescent look represents the olden days money bag (nowadays wallet) and its puffiness indicates that your money bag is well filled. How great is that? In the olden days, the ladies in the family would sit together to make these mini peanut puffs (and other snacks) while giving them a perfect opportunity to catch up with one another.
This post was intended to be the first of the many Chinese New Year snacks. Somehow, making it was harder than I thought. At one stage, I wanted to give up. The reason is obvious, it is a laborious affair and requires skills to make it look all dainty and pretty. I believe nowadays people would opt for something simpler and more productive given the little time that they have. But I admit, there is great satisfaction in making your own.
To add to my predicament, non of the many recipes I tried gave me that crunchy textured kok zai like those from the stores. Often, the skin was soft inside. In the end I used my common sense. What could possibly make a dough more crunchy? Oil. I omitted the egg and increased the oil used. It worked! Alas, I got my crunchy fragrant mini peanut puff. I was ecstatic to say the least.
Chinese New Year Food: Mini Peanut Puffs/Kok Zai 油角仔Makes medium mini peanut puffs
100 g peanuts, toasted and crushed
50 g castor sugar (could be adjusted to suit your taste)
1 tbsp sesame seed, toasted
240 g plain flour
70 g oil (could be mixed with 1/2 oil and 1/2 lard for more fragrant puff)
70 g water
1/4 tsp salt
1. Mix flour and salt together and make a hole in the middle. Add in oil and water and mix until dough forms. If dough is too hard add a little more liquid until the dough is just pliable. Do not make the dough too soft. Cover dough with a cling wrap and set aside.
3. Remove dough and roll dough out thinly (about 2 mm). Use a round cookie cutter to cut out dough. Repeat until finish and cover with a wet cloth.
4. Take a piece of round dough and add peanut fillings in the middle. Fold the dough and press the ends together to seal off. As the dough has a lot of oil, make sure the dough is sealed properly. Crimp the edges to give that wavy pattern by folding in the edge inwards little by little.
5. Deep-fry the puffs in medium heat (it is crucial that the heat is not too high as this would leave you with brown outside but soft inside later). Stir as you fry and remove puffs when they become golden brown. Strain off the oil and set aside to cool complete before serving or putting into jars.
More Chinese New Year Snacks?
Almond and Seeds Crisp
Cod Fish Seaweed Bundle
Crispy Seaweed Popiah Skin with Toasted Sesame