(Gai Dan Jai, and the Nordic Ware Egg Waffle Pan. The pan is currently only available in America at Williams-Sonoma, for about $50. Or you could go to Hong Kong and buy one there. Your choice. But going to Hong Kong seems a bit drastic, just for a pan. There are no other American options besides mail-order, so I was pretty thrilled when I saw this pan come through my inbox.)
These were my favorite street-vendor treat in NYC’s Chinatown, and my husband has fond memories of eating these as a child on the streets of Hong Kong. Even my Mother in Law couldn’t contain her excitement when she saw the pan I had brought home from the mall. “My grandpa used to make me gai dan jai every Saturday for breakfast when I was a little girl!” My Mother in Law is a fabulous cook, and nothing I do in the kitchen ever excites or surprises her. When I served her her first homemade gai dan jai in 50 years…her eyes sparkled, and she actually giggled. It was worth every penny for that pan. (Actually, these waffles sell for $3 each on the streets of NYC, so the pan really isn’t that bad of a deal.)
Even though these are technically waffles, in Hong Kong they are hardly ever eaten for breakfast. These are generally served piping hot, in a small paper sack, and enjoyed while walking home from school.
Hong Kong-Style Egglet Waffles (Gai Dan Jai) (雞蛋仔 )
(Adapted from Christine’s Recipes)
(This recipe is in grams, and that is honestly the best way to make it. It’s super easy – put your bowl onto your digital scale, pour in your ingredient until you reach the desired amount, tare off, and do it again! If you do not have a digital kitchen scale, I have included approximate “American” measurements.)
140 g. (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
7.5 g (1 1/2 tsp.) baking powder
1 T. custard powder (instant vanilla pudding will work here, and is MUCH easier to find.)
28 g. (2 Tbsp.) tapioca starch (available at any Asian market for approximately $1 for a small bag)
2 eggs, beaten
140 g (heaping 1/2 cup) white sugar
28 g. (approx. 2 Tbsp.) evaporated milk (coconut milk is also a tasty choice here)
140 ml (2/3 c.) water
2 tsp. vanilla
oil for your pan
1. Sift together your flour, baking powder, custard powder and tapioca starch.
2. Add your eggs and sugar, and beat well to combine.
3. In a small bowl, mix together your milk, water and vanilla. Gradually add to your flour mixture, and beat until there are no lumps.
4. Refrigerate the batter for one hour before using. (This step is not strictly necessary, but I did find that it made a nicer, lighter waffle.)
5. When your batter is done resting in the fridge, pull it out and prepare your Egg Waffle Pan. (Any waffle pan would work, but it wouldn’t make the signature egglet shape that gives these waffle their name.)
6. Separate your pan, lightly grease both sides, and preheat.
7. To make your waffles: pour approximately 3/4 cup batter into one side of the pan, and shut the lid. Wait about 30 seconds, flip the pan over, and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Be careful not to get the pan too hot – your waffles will burn before they are finished cooking.
8. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack. Serve warm. These can be pulled apart and eaten as is, or wrapped up with berries and cream.