Deep Fried Delicacies I: Kuih Keria (Malaysian Sweet Potato Donuts)
Way back in July, my mom gifted me with a cute mini-deep fryer for my birthday. I was simultaneously excited and apprehensive at the same time; would I succumb to deep-frying anything and everything that I had? By the end of the night, I had already drawn up grandiose plans to deep fry oreos, twinkies, mushrooms, onions (ala Chicken Charlie) but I never followed through, putting health concerns first.
With the temperature in Southern California finally dipping down to the low 60’s this week (yes, my friends, I consider low 60’s cold. I know I’m a wimp), I finally decided to bust out the deep fryer in an attempt to put on another layer of fat in anticipation of winter. I had some beautiful Japanese sweet potatoes so I decided on making kuih keria, a simple but lovely Malaysian street food.
Kuih Keria is just a combination of flour and steamed sweet potato flesh, shaped into rings and deep fried. Traditionally coated in a sugar glaze that’s left to crystallize (allowing for a great crunch when you bite into one), I opted to just coat them in a layer of granulated sugar. If you’re interested in a great and informative blog post about kuih keria, check out Eating Asia’s article on a father-daughter team in Melaka, Malaysia that turns out beautifully caramelized/glazed kuih keria.
These are delicately sweet, unlike their American counterparts. This donut relies on the sweet potato’s natural sweetness, so try to pick the best sweet potatoes you can for this recipe. These are lovely fresh out of the fryer, with the granulated sugar coating providing a sweet crunch to the fluffy dough. I imagine these would be great in the morning paired with a fresh cup of coffee.
This recipe makes a small batch, as I was testing my fryer. Feel free to double the recipe and make more (you’ll probably want to).
Recipe adapted from Seasaltwithfood
Makes 5 mini donuts.
What you’ll need:
- 125g sweet potato, steamed and mashed
- 25g all-purpose flour
- 8 g glutinuous rice flour (a.k.a. sweet rice flour or mochiko)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
- additional spices to taste (cinnamon would go nicely, I think)
- oil for deep frying
- granulated sugar to coat
Place oil into deep fryer according to the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 375F. If you don’t have a deep-fryer, heat up enough oil in a thick-walled pot (at least a depth of 3 inches, I’d say) to a temperature of 375F. As in all situations where there’s a big vat of hot oil involved, make sure you keep an eye on it!
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, glutinuous rice flour, baking powder, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and salt. Add additional spices, if using. Add the mashed sweet potato flesh and knead until you get a moist, soft dough. If the dough is too wet, add flour one teaspoon at a time until you get a workable dough. If your dough is too dry, add some lukewarm water; trust your instincts as different sweet potatoes vary in water content. Try not to over-knead though, as overcompacting and overworking the dough will result in tough donuts.
Divide the dough into 5 portions, about 35g each. Use your finger and thumb to poke a hole in the middle, making a cute little donut. You are free to roll out the dough and punch them out if you have donut cutters as well.
Place some granulated sugar in a shallow bowl and have it ready. Place a rack with a paper towel underneath it for the donuts that come out of the fryer. Having tongs ready right about now is good too.
Test your oil to see if it’s hot enough; a great test I’ve always used is to stick a wooden chopstick into the oil. If bubbles form immediately and quickly around the chopstick, the oil is ready. If the bubbles are slow to form, it’s definitely not hot enough. Fry the donuts, two to three at a time, making sure not to crowd the pot. Adding them all at once will make the temperature of the oil drop too much, resulting in oily donuts. Fry until golden brown and cooked all the way through, about 6-7 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, drain the donuts and immediately drop them into the shallow sugar bowl, turning them to coat. Place on the rack to cool briefly and continue to fry the rest of the donuts.
As with all fried goods, enjoy these donuts as soon as possible as their deliciousness is inversely proportional to the time out of the fryer.