Cambodian donuts have the most amazing and surprising texture and flavour - completely addicting (you have been warned!) I dare you to try eating just one! They are soft and chewy on the inside and deliciously crunchy on the outside, with a mildly sweet nutty flavour. (Skip to recipe.)
Oh, boy, good things have been happening in my kitchen in the name of donuts!
I can tell you that taste-testing for the purposes of research, when you've got something as drool-worthy as donuts with a stretchy, chewy center and a shatteringly crisp outside, is definitely one of the perks of working on new recipes.
This month we travel to Cambodia for our Eat the World recipe challenge, which excited me because visiting southeast Asia is definitely on my bucket list. I can't wait to experience all the exotic sights, sounds, and flavours of that corner of the world. Noum Kong (also Nom Kong or Khmer Donuts) are a popular Cambodian street food. I wish I could head to Cambodia right now just so I can indulge myself on these sweet fried treats, but luckily I don't have to, because they're quite easy to make in my own kitchen!
Look how easy these Cambodian Donuts Are:
The dough only needs 4 ingredients!
Glutinous rice flour (which contains no gluten - the name refers to the sticky glutinous nature of the rice) is also known as sweet rice flour or mochiko rice flour. This light, gluten-free flour is available in health food stores or natural food stores, but it is also commonly found in Asian stores or in the Asian import aisle of large supermarkets. That's the kind you want to get if you can find it, as it's ground much more finely than regular sweet rice flour. It's also really inexpensive, and if you can get the 400 gram bags with the green writing on them, this recipe is simple because you can just use one whole bag. If you can only get regular sweet rice flour or mochiko flour, then you are better off to weigh the amount, or you may have to adjust the amount of coconut milk until you have a nice smooth dough.
Then the fun begins! Roll out balls of the dough into short ropes and connect them to form irregular, unique doughnuts.
Then plop the donuts into hot oil.
Don't be afraid of deep frying. If you use just a minimal amount of oil it's less intimidating. Just remember to not let your oil get too hot and never leave simmering oil unattended. The rest is easy! I like using a wok to do my frying in - the tapered bottom means you need to use less oil, yet you get a wider surface area so you can fry more donuts at once. You can also strain your cooled oil after use through a coffee filter set into a sieve and use the oil several more times (until it gets too dark).
Then you cook up a heap of sugar until it's bronzed and caramelized, stir in some sesame seeds, and dip your donuts. The topping turns crunchy almost immediately - kind of like a candy apple coating. To die for!
Look at that crackly, caramelly, sesame glaze . . . oh yeah!
You could also do my favourite variation (this is where my research got fun): I added a couple more tablespoons of sugar to the donut dough, then skipped the glazing stage altogether and just dusted them with powdered sugar. They are sublime!
Notice the bulges on the bottom of some of the donuts? Nothing to worry about, but those are a result of dough that's a bit too soft - the moisture causes steam to build up and then bits of dough pop out of the donuts as they are frying.
So whether you choose to make the traditional sesame candy-coated donuts or the simpler powdered sugar version, you can have these most amazing donuts ready to eat in a very short time. Think of it as a practice run for when you get a chance to visit Cambodia and taste the real thing hot off the street vendors' carts.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: If you're using regular sweet rice flour (rather than the fine-milled Asian kind), you will need less than 3½ cups as it's heavier. Weighing it will give you more accuracy. You may have to add more coconut milk if you measure by cups.
The coconut milk to use is the kind in tetrapaks or cans, not the coconut milk drinking beverage.
- one 400 gram/14oz bag (3½ cups) super fine Asian glutinous rice flour or use 400gms/14oz sweet rice/mochiko flour
- 2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar or granulated sugar (use 4 tablespoons sugar if you plan to dust them with powdered sugar instead of glazing them)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ - 1⅔ cups (360-400ml) coconut milk
- oil for deep frying - enough to be about 1½ to 2 inches deep in a wide pan (a wok works well); use a heat tolerant oil like peanut oil or a combination of extra light olive oil and sunflower oil
for the glaze:
- 1 cup (200gms) granulated sugar or palm sugar
- ¼ cup (60ml) water
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) toasted sesame seeds
- *or omit the glaze and use the option of adding 2 more tablespoons of coconut palm sugar to the dough and dusting the finished donuts with powdered sugar
Stir together the glutinous/sweet rice flour, sugar, and salt. Add 1½ cup (360ml) of the coconut milk a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition. Use your hands to mix the dough until it forms a ball and doesn't stick to the sides of the bowl. If it is a bit dry, add the remaining coconut milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing in each tablespoon and seeing if the dough comes together before adding more. Don't make the dough too soft or the moisture causes steam pockets that expand and make extrusions that bulge out of the donuts as they are frying. They don't affect the taste, but make for irregular-looking donuts. The dough should have the consistency of playdough. Knead the dough for about 1 minutes then shape it into a ball and cover it with plastic wrap. Leave it to rest for 15 minutes.
Prepare the oil and heat it over medium heat to a low deep-frying temperature (325 - 350°F/170-180°C). I don't measure, but I make a pea-sized ball of the dough and drop it into the hot oil - when small bubbles come up from around the ball, the oil is ready for frying.
Pinch off golf-ball sized bits of dough and roll them into ropes that are about 6 inches (15cm) long. Form the ropes into a circle and press the ends together. Drop each donut into the hot oil very gently. Within the first few seconds of dropping each donut in, use a silicone spatula and slide it under the donut to loosen it from the pan so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Then use a pair of chopsticks to move the donut around in the oil. Make and add enough donuts to float comfortably in the oil in a single layer.
Fry the donuts at a medium low temperature, turning them several times with the chopsticks or tongs. They will take a longish time before they start turning colour. Fry these Cambodian donuts only until they are a light golden colour which will take about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oil with the chopsticks or tongs when they are done and lay them onto a cookie sheet that has been lined with paper towel or newspaper (avoid using pages with colour on them).
Roll and fry the remaining donuts in batches until they are all fried.
to glaze the Cambodian donuts:
Pour the sugar into an even layer in the bottom of a skillet. Pour over the water and heat the sugar and water over high heat, not stirring, but swirling the pan occasionally. The mixture should be steadily bubbling and the water will cook off. Watch it carefully. After about 5 minutes, the sugar syrup will start to change colour slightly. Turn the heat to medium and keep cooking the syrup, gently swirling it occasionally, until it turns a luscious caramel colour, another minute or two. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the toasted sesame seeds.
Holding each donut carefully horizontal with your fingers or a pair of tongs, lightly dip just the top side of each donut in the glaze and then invert it onto a rack to harden the glaze. Be very careful, as the caramelized sugar is extremely hot and will cause burns if you get any on your skin. If the glaze hardens too much to finish coating all the donuts, reheat it gently on the stovetop just until it gets liquid enough to continue dipping the donuts.
*Alternatively - use ¼ cup of coconut palm sugar to make the donut dough. Fry the donuts as above, then coat them with a thick dusting of powdered sugar and devour them.
These donuts are best eaten on the day they are made. I dare you to eat just one!
Makes 20 to 24 donuts.
Check out all the wonderful Cambodian dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!
CulturEatz: Cambodian Green Mango Shrimp Salad
Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Somlar Machu Ktiss (Cambodian Hot and Sour Coconut Soup)
Palatable Pastime: Grilled Cambodian Beef Sticks
Pandemonium Noshery: Khmer Lok Lak
Amy’s Cooking Adventures: Loc Lac (Cambodian Beef with Lime)
Home Sweet Homestead: Cambodian Spring Rolls
A Day in the Life on the Farm: Aioan Chua Noeung Phset Kretni
Loreto and Nicoletta: Cambodian Tapioca Banana Pudding
Margaret: Traditional Cambodian Rice Flour Donuts
House of Nash Eats: Cambodian Chicken Red Curry [Somlar Kari Saek Mouan]
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Check out my past ‘Eat the World’ Recipe Challenge posts:
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