Open Mouth Laughs

By • February 10, 2015 0 Comments

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Author Notes: Preparing for the new lunar year is a busy time for many Cantonese households. There are homes to clean, debts to pay, children to instruct - no bad thoughts or words uttered on new year’s day. As the celebratory time gets closer, the flurry moves into the kitchen. Traditional dishes take time to plan and prepare over the two-week celebratory period.
My childhood is filled with memories of my mom and aunties buzzing around the kitchen table making syrup-laced fried bow-ties and flakey pastries filled with peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut. Open Mouth Laughs, balls of dough coated with sesame seeds that crack open when fried, are one of the easiest Cantonese pastries to make.
Gin Yang |


Makes 24

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated shortening or lard
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder. Add shortening or lard and rub fat into the flour mixture; mixture will look dry.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix sugar, eggs and 1 tablespoon water together. Add flour mixture and mix until a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Tip dough onto a clean surface and knead dough 1-2 minutes until smooth. If dough is sticky, lightly flour surface and hands. Roll dough into a long log and cut into 24 pieces and roll dough into balls. Quickly dip a ball into 1/2 cup water and then into bowl of sesame seeds to coat. Place balls on a plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough balls.
  4. In a Dutch oven, or deep frying pan, add vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches (may need more oil). Heat oil to 350 degrees F. Reduce heat to 325 degrees F. Reshape dough balls. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lower dough balls into oil. Fry 6-8 balls at a time allowing space to turn the balls. Gently move balls as they will sit on the bottom of the pan for about 20 seconds before coming to the oil's surface. Turn balls continuously as they surface to promote even cooking. If the balls brown too quickly before the dough is cooked on the inside, the oil is too hot. (Fry one ball first to test.).
  5. Remove finished balls with a slotted spoon on to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. When completely cool, store in an airtight container. Best within a few days; keeps for about 10 days.

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