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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Peanut Puffs for the Year of the Hare

Posted By on Tue, Jan 25, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Peanut puffs from Golden Gate Bakery. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Peanut puffs from Golden Gate Bakery.


Waiting in line for a custard tart at Golden Gate Bakery last week, SFoodie spotted stacks of knotted plastic bags filled with what looked like fried wontons. Was it already time for peanut puffs? The mental calendar whirred, the id followed, and we walked out with a bag of peanut puffs ($6 for a dozen). Unlike the custard tart, most of them actually made it home.

Peanut puffs, or kok chai, are a New Year's sweet found throughout the Cantonese-speaking diaspora ― fried dumplings filled with ground peanuts, sugar, and sometimes sesame seeds or coconut. Like most New Year foods, they're filled with symbolism as well; in Cantonese, peanuts can be called "coeng saang gwo," or "longevity fruit."


Golden Gate's crisp kok chai, each the size of a small dumpling, are less substantial than they first appear. Each bite reveals an empty pastry, which inflated in the oil and never shrank back down. The insides are lacquered in a glossy, nubbly blend of peanuts and re-crystallized sugar. A loud crack, the scent of toasted peanuts, just enough sweetness to encourage a second bite ― a good start to the new year, even if it's still a few weeks away.

Golden Gate Bakery: 1029 Grant (at Pacific), 781-2627.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @jonkauffman

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Jonathan Kauffman

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