Chinese New Year is always a festival close to my heart. Mainly because I have so many childhood memories attached to it. Like… helping mummy to grate one Daikon after another till my fingers go in the grater (ouch), chopping millions of peanuts and they all escape from the chopping board, being told off for eating the fillings before she made dumplings, sniffing the lovely smell of chinese mushroom when she soaks them in a washing basin overnight, the anticipation when we count our red pocket money… I’ve almost got tears in my eyes thinking about it! Argh I wish I were the little girl getting red pockets from mummy and daddy first thing in the morning…
So I had this great plan in my head, about having all sorts of lovely traditional food ready for CNY, like how I remember mum cooked all the nice things, ??, ??, turnip cake, and on New Year day we turn vegetarian for a day and have Buddha’s Delight. Well, my first take on ?? failed miserably… mainly because I can’t deep fry anything… and the fact that I’m nowhere near as good as mum! (see pic below…)
But I made water chestnut cake! And it was nice So I thought I’ll try Gok Jai, another classic New Year treat in Hong Kong. They are traditionally deep fried, but my nemesis, a wok of hot oil, has beaten me to it. So here’s a version of oven baked Gok Jai, tastes just as good and less fatty!
For the pastry:
- 200g pastry flour (you can replace with 80g plain flour and 20g cornflour, or you can even use all plain flour)
- 2g salt
- 1 teaspoon of caster sugar
- 100g unsalted butter (cold and cut in small cubes)
- 50g of beaten egg (about 1 medium egg)
- 20g water
- 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice
- 80g chopped roasted peanuts
- 60g caster sugar
- 20g desiccated coconut
- 10g sesame seeds
- For the peanuts, I bought a bag of monkey nuts (raw peanuts) from sainsbury’s and roasted in a 180’C oven for about 15 minutes, instruction is on the packet so just follow that. Then I shelled and skinned them, whizzed them up in a food processor until they’re chopped, I used to help mum to chop peanuts by hand! Only if we had a food processor then…
- Now make the pastry. Mix together the flour, salt and sugar, put your cold butter cubes in and rub with your finger until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Or if you’re lazy like me, throw all these ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times, until it’s all blended in. Bliss!
- Mix in the egg, water and lemon juice, bring together with a spoon and then mix with hand to form a dough.
- Clingfilm the dough and put it in the fridge to rest for 20 mins. (flatten it a bit to make it chill quicker)
- Preheat oven to 180’C. Now the filling, just put everything in a bowl and mix together!
- Flour your worktop really well, then roll the dough out, as thin as you can! You don’t want a thick skinned Gok Jai, it’s a sin!
- Cut out rounds (i think I used 8cm cutters, but you can vary the sizes anyway). Then put a teaspoon of filling in it, fold the pastry, now pinch the edges together, you don’t need water to stick it together because it will turn into a mess if you do. Just good pinching will do. You should be able to make over 20 Gok Jai with this recipe.
- When you’re all done, put them in the oven and about 20mins later (or until they’re golden), you’ll have yourself some yummy Gok Jai!
I don’t think CNY is celebrated enough in this country, and I really want to pass this part of heritage on to Ashleigh. He’s been to his childminder’s group today and they celebrated chinese new year, he brought back a little painted rabbit that he drew on, aww he’s such a sweetie. It really makes me realise what a lovely family I have and how lucky I am to have people who cares about me around me.
May you all have a fulfilling prosperous Year of Rabbit. x
P.S. To my horror I lost my nice pics for this post… all I could find was these 2 pathetic pic! Nevermind… they do taste nice, you just have to take my words for it!