Monday, January 17, 2011

Foochow "bagels" or kompia

Cravings for different foods has led me down the road to discoveries and creations. Foochow bagels, or kompia as is known among Foochows, tend to be crispier and smaller in size compared to regular bagels. It could be eaten plain, stuffed with braised pork belly, pork skin or any sandwich stuffers to make a savory snack.
Since foochow bagels are not found here in Southern California, I decided to bake them myself. However, finding  a recipe to bake these discs in a home oven is a challenge since traditionally these are baked in an earthen oven like naan bread.  Needless to say, there are nada, zip, zero recipes out there. So, I decided to concoct a recipe combining different methods used for baking bagels, pizzas and naan.
After many trials and failures, and my kids begging not to be my tasters for failed bagels anymore, I finally came up with this recipe. Persistency paid off. These bagels may not taste as good as the fresh ones baked in an earthen oven but I should say it's pretty close.

Ingredients for12 bagels:-
2 1/4 cups of all purpose flour + 1/4 cup more to flour the kneading and rolling surfaces
1 cup of lukewarm water (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit) + 1/4 cup of room temperature water for spraying
1 tsp  of active dry yeast
2 tsps of salt
1 tbsp of sugar
Steam bath (hot water in a roasting pan)

1. Pour lukewarm water into a medium sized mixing bowl. Stir in yeast and let stand for 15 minutes. Add half of the flour to yeast mixture and mix by hand for 1-2 minutes. Add remaining flour, salt and sugar. Continue to mix for 3 minutes. The dough should be a little stiff at this point.

2. Flour your kneading  surface (like a clean kitchen counter) before placing the dough on it. Knead dough until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding as little flour as needed to prevent dough from sticking to your hands. Shape dough into a ball and place it back into the mixing bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside for dough to double in size. This takes about 3 to 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in a fridge.

3.When your dough is ready, take it out of the mixing bowl and cut the dough into 4 quarters. Flour your rolling surface (clean kitchen counter) and roll one of the quarter dough into a six inch cylinder. Divide and cut into 3 balls. Take one dough ball and flatten with your palm. Poke a hole in the middle of the flatten disc and pull the dough on the edges to make it into a 3 inch diameter disc. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to let it rest for 15 minutes. Repeat with the other dough pieces.

4. Meanwhile, boil some water to make a steam bath. Set your broiler at 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a heavy baking pan on the top rack closest to the broiler for 1-2 minutes. Take out the hot pan and spray the hot pan with a little bit of room temperature water. Then, arrange the discs about 1 inch apart on the pan. I was able to place 6 discs on my baking pan. Spray discs with a little bit of room temperature water. Place the pan back under the broiler for 1 minute to puff up the bagels. Then, lower the oven temperature to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Move the pan with the bagels from the top rack of the oven to the middle rack. Create a steam bath by placing a roasting pan on the lower rack and add 1 inch of hot water to this pan. Continue baking for 12 to 14 minutes until bagels are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Watch the bagels without opening the oven door at 10 minutes and every minute thereafter as they tend to burn fairly quickly towards the end.

5. Remove baking pan from oven and and place bagels on a cooling rack. Let cool before serving. Repeat baking procedures with the remaining bagels. Using a serrated knife, I cut a slit in the bagels and stuffed them with salami. It was good. The kids finally gave me the thumbs up. I think I'll make these kompias again with sesame seeds since that's the one ingredient that I forgot to add this time.


  1. Hi!

    I'm not Foochow but I enjoy eating these kompias. We never failed to have these little foochow bagels whenever we visit Sibu. The last time my brother (who married a Foochow) brought with hime some 50 of these kompias all the way from Sibu to Kuching. We liked them all - plain or savoury with the meat filling. I wish I could make these bagels, and by looking at the process that we need to go through, mmmmmm... not easy.

    1. Hi Nasifriet, thanks for stopping by. sorry for the late reply. The process looks long but actually, it's pretty easy once you get started. Have fun with it.

  2. Hi, thanks for kompia's recipe. May try it one day....Live in East Coast US, missing kompua and kompia much!!

    1. i felt the same too! living in midwest makes it almost impossible to get Malaysian cuisine unless I make it myself!

  3. wow, i am going to try this out. my parents love this and always had relatives smuggling some over whenever they come visit from Sibu. hopefully it turns out good, i am not that good a baker yet! :)

    1. It's a rustic recipe for any level of bakers. A few trial and errors, u'll get the hang of it.