In 1949, The People’s Republic of China was established under the new Communist Party. Hundreds and Thousands of people fled into Hong Kong each month. The drastic increase of population along with low resources of food supply and strict price control by the government drives the creativity of merchants to make good use of all their products in their store.
The batter of the waffles came about when merchants were trying to find ways to utilize broken fresh eggs. With the influence of the British colony, waffle recipe was modified to local taste. They added flour, sugar, evaporated milk, then poured the mixture into a custom made honey comb shaped cast iron mold. On top of a charcoal burning flame, a golden crust, crispy yet chewy cake like snack was born. As the snack evolves, little egg shaped like iron mold was created for this special snack, hence the name “Gai Dahn Tsai”, a direct translation for little egg tartlets. It became an irresistible cheap street snacks unique to Hong Kong. Back in the days, Gai Dan Tsai was sold by hawker street vendors but nowadays, you will find it in mini snack stalls on busy streets of Hong Kong.
According to the locals, a good Gai Dahn Tsai should have a fragrant egg flavor, very crispy on the outside with a chewy semi-hollow center. Pulling out from a rustic brown paper bag, the individual bite size pieces of little egg shaped waffles should break apart easily. Lots of different flavours are available these days, but to truly experience this snack, I recommend the original flavor. For that extra sweet tooth, try the waffle version sandwiched with peanut butter, condense milk along with some coconut sesame sugar.
Mr. Liu, owner of Lee Keung Kee Egg waffle shop was soft spoken and humble about his food stall that basically dominate the egg waffle market in HK. Growing up as one of the10 sibling of a street hawker family in the 50s, he followed his family’s foot step and do what they do best and started his own food stall back in the 80s selling egg waffles. Combining his mother’s recipe along with his new ideas and his vision of constantly improving his product, he now owns 8 busy food stalls around HK that always have a line outside his stall. Liu said, the key to his success is the drive to keep this product on its best competitive edge. Still tasting his waffles everyday, the unique factor of why this egg waffles is so addictive lies in the batter. The right amount of egg, along with minimal distracting, the waffle should be crispy on the outer layer, one side hollow and the other side filled with soft and just cooked cake that is al dente. You should always consume the waffle within the minute that it came out from the grill. That is certainly not difficult considering, the light and crisp element of the waffle. Back in the 50s, these egg waffles are sold by the egglet for a cent. Using a charcoal burning stove with two extra large heavy cast iron mold, they crank out these little egglets and made it a business.
This recipe is easy to prepare and especially good for breakfast. If you don’t have the traditional egg shaped iron mold, an electric waffle machine will do the trick.
Preheat waffle machine or egg shaped iron to medium heat about 300°F
1. Flour ⅔ cup
2. Cornstarch 3 ½ tbsp
3. Baking powder 1 tsp
4. Sugar ⅔ cup
5. Evaporated Milk ¼ cup
6. Water ½ cup
7. Large eggs 2
8. Vege oil or melted butter 2 tbsp
9. Vanilla Extract (Optional) 1 tsp
10. Custard Powder (Optional) 2 tbsp
11. Cooking Spray or Melted Butter to Coat Pan
Combine 4,5,6,7,8,9 in mixing bowl.
Add 1,2,3,10 in the egg mixture and whisk until smooth without lumps.
Coat Waffle maker with 11.
Pour batter into pan until ¾ full.
Cover and turn pan upside down and cook until waffle is golden and come off the pan.
Cool Waffles on wire rack for 5 minutes and serve warm.