Gok Doi (Kok Jai) – Chinese peanut coconut sesame puffs

Growing up, around Chinese New Years, my mother would make these. Crisp and crunchy, filled with sweet goodness, these are the treats of a childhood past. After I made these, I posted on Facebook many of my Chinese friends commented that they hadn’t had it in years, and the memories just seeing them brought back.

Known by many different names, and made in a variety of ways, this was the way my mother did it. It’s a bit of a shortcut compared to many methods, but far less work and hassle to make.  There’s a method where you make the dough from scratch, press or roll it into circles. This method uses pre-made wrappers, (possibly) available at your local Asian market and thus takes about 80% of the work out of the preparation.

Gok Doi (Kok Jai) - Chinese peanut coconut sesame puffs
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
A Chinese New Year's favorite, a recipe for crispy thin skinned peanut, sesame and coconut filled puffs.
  • 1 package of So Kok wraps. (if they're not available Siu Mai wraps can be substituted)
  • 1 Cup roasted peanuts, chopped (fine or coarse, it's up to you)
  • 1 Cup toasted shredded coconut
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup to 1 cup roasted sesame seeds (I go with ¼, it really depends how much you love sesame seeds)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Oil for frying (peanut oil works best)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine peanuts, coconut, sugar, and sesame seeds
  2. Stir well
  3. Take a wrapper and put a small spoonful of filling into it.
  4. Brush beaten egg around half the wrapper, like a smiley face.
  5. Fold the wrap, making sure it's well sealed.
  6. If you have a press you can use it now.
  7. As your wraps are folded, lay them out in a single layer on a baking pan. Don't stack them, they'll stick together.
  8. Fry them a few at a time, cooking until light to golden on one side, then turning them over carefully and frying the opposite side until golden brown.


Tried my hand at making Char Siu Bow (Barbeque Pork Buns)

Fresh steamed buns bursting with a salty-sweet Chinese barbeque pork filling. What’s not to love. I’ve had great success with making bread and am at a point where I can nearly intuitively vary temperature, time, and added humidity to vary the thickness of the crumb, etc… I thought time to try my hand at steamed buns, the kind for Barbeque Pork Buns, as well as Duck buns.

There are two components in making a Barbeque Pork Bun. The filling and the bun. Pretty obvious, I guess, but I have to start somewhere. Making Char Siu is a project unto itself, so I made the filling using barbeque pork from a Chinese Deli. To make the filling is pretty simple. Chop up the meat, gently saute in a pan for a moment, then thicken with a sauce, adding onions and garlic until it’s the right consistency.

The bread itself is another thing. It’s a mixed flour recipe, part wheat and part something else, though the recipes online I’ve seen use all purpose flour.

I used a box mix from the Asian market. Cheating, I know, but I wanted to get the filling spot on, then move to making the bread from scratch. I also wanted to see how good the buns would come out with the package mix.

Flattening out a bit of the dough, then folding around a spoonful of filling, the buns came out fine. I opted to do two things, since I was experimenting. One was to make them small and bite sized. The other was to make them in such a way that they’d burst open (instead of the smooth closed style).

I also used some of the dough to make disks of bread to eat with duck and scallions as you can see here.

Overall, I’d say that the experiment was very limited in success. Though they looked ok, I found the mix dry. In the same way that “just add water” pancake mix can’t compare to fresh made pancakes from scratch, the box can’t compare to the buns you’ll find in a dim sum store or restaurant.

I thought it was a bit dry and although it had the sponge and springiness didn’t have a moist bite to it. I suspect that it’s because the box mix doesn’t have lard in it.

I’ll be repeating the experiment when there’s room in the refrigerator, and I have some time. The next time I’ll be using a traditional recipe handed down to a friend and will be reporting on the results.

For now, bon appetit! 🙂


What’s up in our kitchen for New Year’s Eve!

New Year's Eve Dinner 2012

On this New Year’s Eve, we want to wish you a bright and shining New Year and hope it’s filled with many, many blessings!

I’ve been cooking and prepping for two days straight. Both trying new techniques on dishes I’ve been doing for years, and trying new dishes. Here’s a sneak peak at a couple things I’ll be serving the extended family later tonight. I’ll have full photos and recipes up in January.

I’m doing Asian tonight with a few dishes from different places. On the menu tonight:

Hainan Chicken Rice (China/Thailand/Singapore/Malaysia)

Hakka Pork Belly with Preserved Vegetables

Fried Fish in Spicy Tamarind Sauce (Pla Rad Prik – Thailand)

Lettuce Wraps with Pork and Cloud Ear Mushroom Filling (China)

Gai Lon – green vegetables with Oyster Sauce (China)


Wood Ear or Cloud Mushrooms – Asian Ingredients

Wood Ear (sometimes known as Cloud or Black Fungus) mushrooms are a common, yet interesting, ingredient in Asian cooking. Used more for it’s texture, than it’s mild flavor, the mushroom still adds a substantive quality to the dish. You can buy them dried, or you can buy them fresh. Around the San Francisco Bay Area, they are easily found in Asian markets. If you don’t have access to an Asian market, or one that carries the fresh variety, the dried are just as good. You can find them online here:

Melissa’s Dried Woodear Mushrooms, 0.5-Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)

In my video, you can get an idea as to the texture and appearance of the mushroom.

If you have never seen or tried cooking with this ingredient, don’t fear! It’s really hard to go wrong with this in savory dishes. Just slice or chop up and add it. The taste is mild, as is the gentle crunchiness of it. It’s excellent to add a little texture to a silken tofu dish or even scrambled eggs.

One of the things I like to do with it is cook it and serve in Vietnamese spring roll rice paper or in leaves of Romaine lettuce hearts. Costco seems to have the Romaine lettuce nearly all the time.

Meat Filling with Wood Ear Mushrooms
Recipe type: Asian, Entree, Appetiser
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
A nice savory filling for use in lettuce or rice crepes.
  • (caveat with the ingredients, it's ALL to taste. I usually don't measure a thing when cooking Asian foods. The measurements below are my best guesstimate, having cooked this just a half hour before writing).
  • 1-2 lb. Ground Beef (ground pork or chicken would work too)
  • 1 tsp. Soy Sauce, or to taste
  • ½ tsp Lee Kum Kee chicken powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/LKKChickenBouillonPowder
  • ½ tsp Beef powder (opt.) http://bit.ly/BeefStockPowder
  • 1 TBS Tamarind paste ( http://bit.ly/Tamarind_Paste )
  • 2 TBS Oyster Sauce http://bit.ly/LKK_OysterSauce
  • ¼ cup Wood Ear Mushroom, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • ¼ cup Water Chestnuts, chopped ⅛" squares or so
  • 2 Thai Bird's Eye Chili Peppers, chopped very fine (to taste)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped fine
  • 3 Tbs Corn Starch
  • ¼ cup Cold water
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cold water.
  2. Add the cold water a little at a time, until you have a soft, wet meat mixture, but not so much that it's puddling.
  3. Preheat a wok with a few tablespoons of oil to med-high.
  4. Once the oil is hot, add the meat and leave for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir, breaking up any lumps to a medium fine ground texture.
  6. Strain excess oil and service in a bowl.
This works well with Romain lettuce "tacos", butter lettuce cups, or Vietnamese spring roll wrappers. http://bit.ly/SpringRollWrapper Serving suggestions. Have a bowl of cooked rice noodles or bean thread noodles. You can serve it with Hoisin sauce as a condiment to be spread inside as well. If you're using spring roll wrappers, have cucumber shreds and lettuce or spring mix to put inside and add a nice fresh, healthy crunch to it. A small bowl of lemon or lime wedges will put a contrasting sour to complement the salty, savory, and spicy taste of the meat.



Cooking: Making Won Ton

Plain WonTon
(pictured: a bowl with three plain wonton, boiled and ready to be placed in broth)

There are certain dishes made in certain cultures that become synonymous with family. For a family in Central America it might be the tamale, for my family growing up as Chinese-Americans, one of those dishes was the humble but beautiful wonton. It was making this dish that we sat around the table, everyone who was home, and dug in the mixing bowl pulling out small scoops of meat and then wrapping them in fresh wrappers or “skins”

1 large pack of wonton wrappers.

Thin or thick, Hong Kong style or regular, doesn’t matter. Try out different kinds to see which one you prefer. Thick skins can be easier to work with the first time around.

(keep reading for the recipe and more!) Continue reading

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