Who in­vented the Hong Kong egg puff? – Puff Daddy

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They say you can’t make an omelet with­out break­ing a few eggs, but it takes a lot more to per­fect the ubiq­ui­tous egg puff.

The gai daan jai— or egg waf­fle, or eggette, de­pend­ing on whom you ask—is a quin­tes­sen­tial Hong Kong street snack, mean­ing “lit­tle chicken egg.” The snack came about in the 1950s, and is said to have been in­vented by shop­keep­ers who needed to find some­thing to do with all the cracked or bro­ken eggs which cus­tomers re­fused to buy. In­stead of throw­ing them all away, they mixed th­ese un­wanted eggs into a bat­ter with evap­o­rated milk and flour, then poured them into molds—likely first waf­fle-shaped molds, ap­ing the Euro­pean waf­fle, and later into the unique molds you see to­day. Be­tween the eggy contents and the eggy shape, the name was born.

You need to know that not all egg puffs are cre­ated alike. A truly ex­cel­lent egg puff has a crisp ex­te­rior sur­round­ing a pocket of air and then a moist, dense lower half. This shape is achieved by flip­ping the mold quickly af­ter the bat­ter is poured in, to give a thin, crispy shell on one side and a firm base on the other.

You can buy egg puff molds pretty eas­ily if you want to try your own hand at mak­ing them—some are even fully elec­tric waf­fle mak­ers—but it’s no doubt one of those snacks that tastes bet­ter on the streets (see p.16).

The best egg puffs are those cooked in the tra­di­tional way over a char­coal flame. The char­coal hits a con­sis­tently high tem­per­a­ture and singes the edges, giv­ing the egg puffs a dis­tinc­tively smoky fla­vor. They’re get­ting harder to find th­ese days, although a few shops in Tai O still cook them this way. Or­der one freshly made and tear it apart when it’s al­most too hot to touch: that first per­fect crunch, the pip­ing hot air pocket, the soft, rich layer of bat­ter un­der­neath. Hap­pi­ness, in a brown pa­per bag.

Puffy stuff

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