Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bow Ties (aka Dahn-Sahn)

Called "dahn-sahn" in Cantonese (the term translatres to shattered eggs, which these pastries somewhat resemble as they bubble and expand when fried in hot oil), these are the ultimate in Chinese pastries.  Melt-in-your-mouth crisp sweetness, nuttiness from sesame seeds, and deep-fried - what's not to like about dahn-sahn?  Loosely resembling bow ties, dahn sahn are made with an egg and wheat flour dough dipped in syrup and sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds.  There are several steps, and while making them takes several hours and causes a mess, there's no better way to enjoy the time with the loved one who enjoys making them for you.

1.  Toast sesame seeds
2.  Start syrup
3.  Make dahn sahn
4.  Deep fry dahn sahn
5.  Coat in syrupSprinkle with sesame seeds
6.  Get the water going for the tea


½ Cup sesame seeds, toasted and cooled

2 parts sugar
1 part water
2 rounds white corn syrup (approximatly 2 Tbls.)
Juice of one lemon

Mix together sugar and water and boil on medium, stirring occasionally. When halfway to soft-ball stage, add 2 rounds of white corn syrup and juice of one lemon.  Stir occasionally.  Gently boil until syrup reaches soft-ball stage.

3 ½ cups flour
1 egg
Vegetable oil for frying

On a flat, clean surface, pour flour into a circle, mounding up sides creating a well in the middle.  Add egg, and with a fork, break up egg and slowly incorporate in the surrounding flour as much as possible.  Knead all together with hands, adding t tepid water as necessary until dough holds together - stiff but pliable, like dough for pasta.  Roll out in a hand-crank pasta machine finishing with one pass through the last notch. Flour the dough lightly with cornstarch to prevent sticking.

With a sharp knife, cut dough strips 1 ¾ “ wide (the width of the rolled dough is the length).  Make three 2” slits lengthwise in the middle of the strips about ¼” apart and ¼” from the edges.  Put 2 strips together and bring the bottom of one strip through the middle of the slits, and then bring the opposite end of the top strip through the middle of slits so that is in the bottom.  Place assembled dahn-sahn, that now resemble bow-ties, in layers separated with wax paper to prevent sticking.

In a deep skillet or electric frying pan, heat oil to 350ยบ F.  Line a large baking pan with double layers of paper towels.  Fry dahn-sahn, careful not to crowd.  Fry until light brown, about 15-20 seconds.  Flip over and cook other side.  Dahn-sahn are fragile after frying, use care in removing them from oil. Stacking them in the pan on their ends help save space.

Paper towel line a second large baking pan. When all of the dahn-sahn are done, and syrup as at the soft-ball stage, dip one side of the dahn-sahn into the syrup, hold up to drain, set into  the second pan.

Makes lots. To store:  place in an airtight container with wax paper in between layers.  Carefully peel off dahn-sahn from each other.  Alternatively, individually place about half a dozen into a gallon zip-lock bag.  The dahn-sahn will last a couple of weeks but they’ll get eaten before then.

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