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Friday, January 15, 2010

Laughing Mouths - Kou Xiao Gao or Open Mouths Laughing - Foodie Friday







From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...
I first sampled this lovely pastry at a vendor's stall in one of the labyrinthine streets of a hutong, or old neighborhood, in Bejing, China. I was surprised when I found them. I mistakenly believed that a lack of ovens and dairy cattle would preclude the serving of cakes and pastries as a snack or dessert. While fruit is more commonly served, griddle-cooked or steamed desserts are also available. Lard or oil substitute for the butter, cream and milk we associate with desserts in the West. These delightful mouthfuls, usually served with a sprinkling of sugar, are an example of a Chinese pastry. They are a bit like a Western donut but the exterior is slightly crustier and they are cooked in a different fashion. Anyone can make these. They require no special equipment, save for a food processor, a deep pan and a candy thermometer. Here's the good part. They take five minutes to assemble and form and can be on a plate 10 minutes later. The Chinese call these Kou Xiao Gao or "open mouth laughs" because a special technique causes them to split open as they fry. Once the dough is made and formed, oil is heated quickly to a temperature of 300 degrees F. At that point all the pastry balls are added to the oil and held below the surface to encourage them to rise and split. The oil will gradually increase in temperature until it's about 350 degrees F. The balls are first cooked at the lower temperature so the insides will heat and expand before the outer surface crusts or seals. The balls are cooked until they are a golden brown. Once drained they are sprinkled with sugar and served warm. I have also seen these coated with sesame seeds. This is a snack that's fun to make at anytime of year. I thought you might like to have some simple dishes for Chinese New Year. The kids will love this one. Here's the recipe.

Laughing Mouths (Kou Xiao Gao)...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite inspired by Jacki Passmore

Ingredients:
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 egg
2 to 3 tablespoons water
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Oil for deep frying
3 tablespoons confections' or superfine sugar for dusting

Directions:
1) Combine sugar, butter, egg and 2 tablespoons water in bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth. Slowly add flour, salt and baking powder. Pulse until a soft dough forms, adding 1 tablespoon reserved water if required.
2) Using a tablespoon measure, break off 18 piecs of dough. Wet hands and form into balls.
3) Heat oil in a wok or deep-sided frying pan over high heat until it reaches 300 degrees F. Reduce heat to medium-high and add balls all at one time. Use a pancake turner to push dough under oil. This will cause them to rise and split. Cook balls until they are a golden brown, about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a skimmer to paper toweling to drain. Sprinkle with sugar and serve. These are best served warm. Yield 18 pieces.

This recipe is being linked to:
Designs By Gollum - Foodie Friday

54 comments:

Elra said...

They do look like laughing, don't they Mary?
Anyway, I am sure they are delicious.

CC said...

Everything you make looks so delicious, and I love that you give a history or story about the recipe. I just simply love your blog..

g said...

Damn, these look good! It reminds me of the homemade donuts my mom used to make - the holes!

DailyChef said...

Yes! I love Kou Xiao Gao! Never dared make it myself though. Thanks for the post!

theUngourmet said...

These do look delicious! I need to get a candy thermometer before I can try them.

Maggie B said...

They may be laughing but my mouth is watering at the sight of these lovely little delicacies.
Naughty but nice!
Have a great weekend,
Maggie

KathyB. said...

I am thinking this is a recipe I can substitute Nucoa ( non-dairy) for butter and make for my daughter who is seriously lactose intolerant, and she will like!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Yay! Happy donuts!

susan said...

Mary-I love the name of this treat! The Chinese seem to have special way of naming things. I'm pretty sure they would make smile too :)

Martha said...

Perhaps this is why you find those fried biscuits covered with sugar at Chinese buffets. These look yummy!

Donna-FFW said...

I love fried dough desserts.. something so wonderfully appealing about it!

My Little Space said...

Oh Mary, they look gorgeous! You did well. For the Chinese, we normally having this during festive season especially Chinese New Year. We believe it brings prosperity to our home.

La Table De Nana said...

Cute smiles for sure!

Coralie Cederna Johnson said...

They have that "melt in your mouth" look! (And my mouth is watering!) Another beautiful presentation! Thank you!

George Gaston said...

Mary, this is one of those delectable treats that says, "I bet you can't eat only one!"

Great recipe, thanks...

yummy recipes said...

yum yum...I definitely love this recipe...it looks very homey..thanks for sharing.

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

I am laughing with joy! I actually can make these. They are little mouthfuls of happiness! Yummy!!!!
Yvonne

lilyng said...

mary

this is one of the auspicious snacks of the Chinese new year. Coating with white sesame seeds makes them more fragrant.

Cathy said...

What an interesting frying technique. These "laughing mouths" look very tasty.

Claudia said...

Mouth-watering. They are indeed laughing at me - as they elude me on the computer.

noble pig said...

This was a find and it looks like you have reproduced them nicely.

A Year on the Grill said...

Mary, do you have a post that gives your history... all the places you've been and what influences you have... I only came to your site a few months ago, and I get just bits and bits of your history... i would love some details all at once

Why were you living in China???

Carrie said...

My son saw the picture of the Kou Xiao Gao and said Yum Yum! I agree with him.

Farmer Jo said...

I had these this summer deep in an ally of Beijing! Thank you so much for posting them. I am going to try this this weekend!

Federica said...

deliziose queste frittelle!! complimenti!

kirbie said...

Interesting. I can't believe I've never heard of them or tasted one before.

Joyce said...

My SIL is from China but I am not sure she has ever made these for me? I will ask her. They certianly look delicious and sound easy to make. These also remind me of Italian puffs.
Joyce

Allie said...

wow these look really good I can't wait to test them out!!

Karen said...

Mmm, they look so crispy and delicious! Such a cute name for them!

Atticmag said...

I adore Chinese street food and it's so difficult to come by recipes for various great things to eat. Love having this one. Jane F.

Juliana said...

Oh Mary, These little snacks look so yummie :-)Would love to take a couple of them without a doubt!
By the way, thank you so much for stopping by my site and living such a sweet comment.

heartnsoulcooking said...

What a GREAT!!! post I alway learn something new when I visit. THANKS!!!
Geri

Rhonda @ Shellbelle's Tiki Hut said...

I would make these just because I love their name, but the "crustier" outside sounds really appealing.

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

Hi Mary, These look like fun. First look and I thought, Oh Boy, Mary has made Cream Puffs. I must try these, Thanks.
I have a real keeper that I put together the other day. Based vaguely on your Vodka sauce and an Olive Garden dinner I had. Stop by for a look.

Sam said...

Hello, I'm enjoying your beautiful blog. You're right about that perfect looking bite. It does look like perfection. Keri (a.k.a. Sam)

A Gracious Home said...

Sounds great. Your blog is beautiful. Thanks, Doylene

Nancy Jane said...

This recipe is enough to make me want to start deep frying again. (We gave it up several years ago after my husband had bypass surgery!) I did so enjoy the backstory to these lovelies. Your blog is always a feast for the eyes and the mind.

Richie's 2ts Inspires said...

Am asian Mary, so I would love to try this. Looks so yummy.

TY for sharing.

Mrs. L said...

I love name "Laughing Mouths" for these. And I love old fashioned donuts that have the real crispy outside. I'll have to give these a try.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

How cute and tasty-looking! I love new ideas!

Lea Ann said...

Wow, never heard of these and they do look and sounds wonderful.

Joanne said...

Im beginning to think that every culture has a recipe for fried dough...and that they are all delicious!

The Cooking Photographer said...

I would be laughing as I ate these because my belly was so happy!

Lori (All That Splatters) said...

Oh wow - these look sooo good. I'll have to save this recipe for when I have company - I can see myself eating the whole batch! Great photos -

Diann @ The Thrifty Groove said...

I love these! I have had simliar ones and swear I could sit and eat an entire plated full of them!!

Michael Lee West said...

Reading about your adventures in food is a delight. I always learn wonderful foodie tidbits and come away with a fabulous recipe. This one sounds delicious!

Anita @ My Slice of Heaven said...

Oh, these look delicious! I've never had the joy of tasting Kou Xiao Gao but they look a little like a beignet, which I just love! I'll have to give your recipe a try.

Mary said...

Anita, welcome to One Perfect Bite. I hope you'll visit often. Blessings...Mary

Di said...

Mary these look absolutely wonderful and I'm not a dessert eater. My immediate thought was of a "cake" donuts, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. I'm printing out this recipe. The grandkids will love them and I could have one too. ;)

Kim said...

If it's anything like a donut, then I'm sold :D

Rachelle @ Olivia's Cottage said...

Thanks for the Comment. Those pastries look delish! My daughter is a cutie and steals the story doesn't she!

Barbara said...

Hi Mary,
You don't say when to incorporate the 1 tbsp butter, however, because it's listed 2nd in the ingredient list, I'm assuming it gets processed with the sugar? I'll check back for your reply. They look wonderful and I'd love to make them. Thanks so much for sharing!

Mary said...

Barbara, thank you for pointing out the omission. I've corrected the recipe. Again, my thanks...Mary

Chinese Dessert said...

It looks so perfectly and nice. It must be tasty and can be a perfect dessert. I have never tried it earlier but as you have proved the ingredients and the procedure, now I ll try for the first time.

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