Little Chicken Biscuits are a savory treat
I believe in keeping an open mind about food. Organ meat, brains, fermented whatever -- I'll try anything once. But this week's recipe at first glance was just weird. And suspicious-sounding, at that.
It partly answers a request from Barbara Leong, posted here a few weeks ago, for Chinese Little Chicken Cookies -- Gai Dsai Biang.
I've never heard of these, but thanks to some help from reader Susan Linn, I found a number of recipes online for Little Chicken Biscuits, Kai Chai Peang in Chinese, which does have some phonetic similarity to Leong's title and some descriptive similarity to her explanation of the treat.
Now, tell me if this recipe doesn't sound a little strange: It includes garlic, five-spice, candied wintermelon and the yummiest part, red fermented bean curd. But think of it as a biscuit and not a sweet cookie. Keep an open mind.
All the recipes I found were very similar, and I offer an adapted version here, based on my testing.
It's not exactly what Leong was after -- the ingredients are the same, although she described a filled cookie, "a bit chewy, sweet, salty, and oh soooo yummy!" I'm continuing my search in that regard. But in honor of the new year that begins tomorrow, and because it did make a pretty good, savory treat, I'm offering it today.
The ingredients can be found in Chinatown groceries. I thought maltose was going to be a deal-breaker, but I found it in little plastic tubs in several markets. I wouldn't use it again, though. It's hopelessly sticky and hard to work with. Given the small amount used, I'd just substitute brown sugar.
Little Chicken Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1-1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 pieces nam yue (red fermented bean curd)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons maltose or brown sugar
1/2 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cup minced candied wintermelon (about 12 pieces)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, five-spice and garlic.
Mash bean curd and combine with oil, eggs and maltose or brown sugar. Add to dry ingredients and knead lightly. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and wintermelon; mix to incorporate evenly. Knead until mixture holds together (if it's too dry, add a little more oil).
Form dough into 1-inch balls. Place between sheets of parchment and flatten with rolling pin, or press with your palm, to 1/8-inch thickness. Make them a little thicker if you want them chewier. If edges get crumbly, press them in to form a nice circle.
Place on cookie sheets and bake 15 to 20 minutes, until brown and crisp. Let cool slightly, then carefully move to wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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