Saturday, September 28, 2013

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


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


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

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