Egg batter being poured over a special waffle pan before it is heated on a charcoal stove.
An egg waffle is a spherical egg-based waffle popular in Hong Kong and Macao and is an eggy leavened batter cooked between two plates of semi-spherical cells. They are best served hot, and often eaten plain. They can also be served with fruit and flavors such as strawberry, coconut or chocolate. It is referred to by its original Cantonese name, gai daan jai (鷄蛋仔), and in English, an egg puff, bubble waffle, eggette and puffle. They are sometimes referred to as Hong Kong cakes in Chinatowns across America, especially in New York.
Egg waffle are one of the most popular Hong Kong "street snacks" and were ranked No.1 in a 100 most popular HK "street snack" listing. They have been a favoured street snack in HK since their emergence in 1950s, when they were made with coal fire heating and sold from street kiosks in Hong Kong.
The origins of the egg waffle or gai daan jai (which literally translates to "little chicken eggs") are unknown, despite being ingrained in the memories of Hong Kongers young and old. "One story says the enterprising post-war generation created the egg-shaped mold to make up for an eggless batter, as eggs used to be a luxury. Another tale points to street hawkers who bought damaged eggs on the cheap to work them into a batter, resulting in the classic golden color of the cake. It also is reasonable to suggest that the special iron skillet used to mold the gai daan tsai is a Hong Kong take on the traditional checkered European waffle press. Today, the two related snacks are often sold by the same stall."
Egg waffles are made from a sweet, eggy batter that is cooked on a hot griddle, a special frying pan with small round cells (resembling an æbleskiver pan but with smaller and more of the round cells). The griddle is set on hot coals in the fire, or more commonly on an electrical heater. The batter is poured over the special frying pan and heated; the small ovals of egg waffles are thus formed. In addition to the conventional "egg taste", they are also available in a variety of flavours such as chocolate, green-tea, ginger, etc. Most batters used in egg waffle are quick breads, although some are also made using a yeast-raised or fermentedbatter. Egg waffles can be eaten at different times of the day depending on local tradition.