Thursday, March 15, 2012

As Promised... Recipe for Okinawan Doughnuts

Those of you who read my latest piece for Zester Daily know that I'm obsessed with Greg Atkinson's recipe for Okinawan Doughnuts.  I've made them five times in the past two weeks and I've encouraged others, including my mother, to start making them as well.  As a result, I have a large collection of doughnut photos and a laundry list of ideas and suggestions for making them.  I'll share Greg Atkinson's original recipe first, followed by my own ideas and suggestions (along with a few additional photos).
Cooling Okinawan Doughnuts are frequently subject to theft at my house, 2012.



Okinawan Doughnuts
Recipe by Greg Atkinson
From "At the Kitchen Table", courtesy Sasquatsh Books

Crispy on the outside, moist and cakelike on the inside, these simple doughnuts from Okinawa are popular in Hawaii, where the fried balls of dough are called andagi, short for sata andagi, which roughly translates as “fried sweet.” When Okinawan Hawaiian chef Rocky Toguchi was at the helm, they were a popular treat among the staff at Canlis. When I left the restaurant, I started making them at home.

Ingredients:
  • 3⁄4 cup powdered sugar, for coating the doughnuts (optional) 
  • 3 cups corn or canola oil, for deep-frying 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup milk 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions:
  • Preheat the oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with a large brown paper bag and place in the warm oven. If you want to give the doughnuts a sugar coating after frying, put the powdered sugar in a small paper bag.
  • If you have a small deep-fryer, use it according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. Otherwise, heat at least 3 inches of oil in a deep, heavy stockpot over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 375°F, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil rises immediately to the surface and becomes golden brown in 1 minute.
  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until the eggs are well blended and the sugar is almost dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in the milk and vanilla.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg until combined.
  • Add the egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  • Use a tablespoon or a small (1⁄2-ounce) scoop to drop rounds of dough into the hot oil. Fry no more than 5 or 6 doughnuts at a time; crowding the pan prevents the doughnuts from cook- ing properly. Fry until the doughnuts rise to the surface and roll themselves over, about 4 minutes. (If they doughnuts do not flip on their own, coax them with a fork after about 2 minutes.) They should be golden brown on both sides.
  • Lift the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain them on the preheated, paper-lined baking sheet. Keep the doughnuts warm while you prepare succeeding batches. Just before serving, shake the doughnuts in the bag of powdered sugar.
Makes 18 small doughnuts
My mother's second attempt, 2012.

Thoughts from Two Devoted Doughnut Fans (in no particular order):

1.  I've never managed to make 18 doughnuts with the recipe (I usually get 15 or 16), but I'm working on decreasing the doughnut size.  I wouldn't worry about this much except for the fact that I suspect the doughnuts would be better if they were smaller.  They'd have a higher crispy/tender ratio and I'm always in favor of more crispiness.

2.  Be sure to eat these doughnuts quickly.  They are best fresh out of the hot oil, but are reasonably good the second day if you don't coat them with powdered sugar until just before you eat them.  This probably isn't much of a problem because you will want to eat them as fast as you can pull them out of the hot oil.  My parents ate an entire batch for dessert yesterday.  I've had to ration them to my family to test what the doughnuts would be like after one or two days.  

3.  My mother didn't like the powdered sugar coating and used a cinnamon-sugar mix instead.  I can't wait to try it on my next batch.  Her recipe is 1/2 cup sugar to 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Mix together in a small bowl and dip doughnuts in it while doughnuts are still warm.  Another alternate topping is hot fudge.  My mother has tried that with great success as well.

4.  Use fresh eggs.  My mom made her latest batch using eggs from her friend Tippy's farm.  I suppose it goes without saying that fresh eggs will make food taste better, but frankly I just wanted an excuse to show my mom's photo because the eggs were so pretty.