This Guo Kui ‘锅魁’ – Crispy Stuffed Flatbread is truly scrumptious with flaky and crispy layers on the outside and a flavorful and delicious filling on the inside. Let’s make this enjoyable and tasty vegan snack with the easy to follow steps below.
What is Guo Kui ‘锅魁’ – Crispy Stuffed Flatbread
Guo Kui (pronounce as ‘gwoh kwey’) also written as 锅魁 or 锅盔 is a crispy stuffed flatbread with the latter directly translates to “Pot Helmet”. There are various stories behind this popular street snack in China and some refer to this as ‘Chinese Pizza’.
This ‘bread’ is made from simple ingredients and a little oil in the flour to create that crispy texture during cooking. There are normally 2 parts to cooking this dish; first, sizzle it in oil until golden brown on a griddle, then transfer to an oven and bake until crispy.
I was first introduced to Guo Kui when my hubby told me to watch The Food Ranger Chengdu street food. To me, street food episodes have the most appealing stories about the country and show the culture in the best way – through food.
The way the Guo Kui’s chef slung the dough into a thin oblong sheet amazed me. I tried it out myself but the precise rhythm makes it difficult to perform correctly.
Guo Kui is available in both sweet and savory styles though the latter is more popular and usually filled with spicy meat filling. I veganized this recipe using a few simple pantry ingredients.
Can you guess what the secret ingredient is? It’s CHICKPEAS! This humble bean is very versatile and the taste is out of this world especially when they are cooked with Chinese 5-spice powder.
If you have tried “ham chim peang” from Malaysia, you’ll know what I mean. I can conclude that this recipe is definitely a keeper! Now, let’s check out how to make this crispy and flaky Guo Kui.
How to make Guo Kui ‘锅魁’
1. Prepare the dough – Part One
Start by mixing together flour and salt in a large bowl until well combined. Then, rub oil into the flour until it turns into a coarse-like texture.
Mix in the water and knead into a somewhat smooth dough. Cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
I use lukewarm water to create a soft and easy to roll dough. I also tried using cold water which results in a crispier texture but a tad harder to roll out.
2. Prepare the dough – Part Two
Rub the dough with oil after 15 minutes. Transfer dough onto a cleaned surface and divide it into 6 equal portions.
The dough should be very soft but not sticky. Dust some flour on the dough if you can’t cut it easily. Then, roll each portion into a ball.
Grease a cake pan, rub each ball with oil, then place each one into the cake pan. Cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
3. Prepare the filling
While waiting, start preparing the filling. Chop drained chickpeas into smaller pieces, clean the green onions by removing the wilted parts, and cut into 1cm length.
Simply sautê chopped chickpeas in a drizzle of oil until slightly brown and season with soy sauce, sugar, Chinese 5-spice, salt, and pepper. I like to divide the filling into 6 equal portions for ease of handling in the next step.
4. Assemble the Guo Kui
Brush some oil onto a cleaned surface and rolling pin. Place one ball of dough onto the oiled surface. Roll it into an oblong sheet.
Spread a layer of filling on the dough and slightly press on the filling so the chickpeas will stick to the dough. Then top with chopped onions.
Take one edge and roll down from the top. Try to pull the dough with each roll to get a thin layer. You should end up with a plump cylinder.
Tilt the cylinder so that it’s now standing and let it rest while continuing with the remaining dough balls.
Take the first cylinder and flatten it into a thick disc shape with your palm. Be careful to not apply too much pressure as the side of the dough is quite delicate.
Press as far as the dough allows without breaking it. If you need to make it thinner, you’ll have a second chance to do it right before pan-frying them.
Dip one side of the disc into some water, then layer it with raw sesame seeds. Set aside.
5. How to cook Guo Kui
Heat a non-stick pan with 3 to 4 tablespoons oil, then reduce to low heat. Take a dough ball, flatten it again between your palms, and place the no sesame side down.
Fry both sides until golden brown for about 5 to 7 minutes each side. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake Guo Kui for about 20 minutes to crisp up the outer layer.
Cooking Tips and Variations
Here are some things that I have learned along the way during my recipe testing that I would love to share with you:
- Resting Time – The first rest is very short and make sure to cover it with a tight lid or damp towel. This step will allow the gluten to rest after kneading. Rub the dough with oil and let it rest for another hour or so. This process is to allow the dough to slowly absorb the oil which will result in softer and pliable dough later. You can refrigerate after this step until the next day but be sure to thaw it to room temperature before rolling it out.
- Filling – There are many great filling options such as tofu, soy mince, grilled eggplant, jackfruit, and seasoned mashed potatoes. I tried it with tofu once by mashing it into crumbles. Then, pan-fry tofu until golden brown before seasoning it. Add about 1/4 cup of water or stock to the tofu crumbles to create a moister filling which also sticks better to the dough.
- Allow the dough to rest – I like to rest the dough after I work on it. For example, once I roll it into a spiral and tilt it to a standing position, I let it rest before flattening it. The dough will become softer after each rest which makes it easier for me to mold it into the desired shape.
- Sesame seeds – I used raw white sesame seeds because it won’t burn as fast as toasted sesame seeds.
- Low heat – the most crucial step to ensure the Guo Kui is fully cooked through and crisp up is the first low-heat pan fry. Don’t rush on this step.
- Can I just bake them without the pan-fry or vice versa? I highly recommend the common way of pan-frying first then bake to achieve the golden brown and crispy texture. However, if you prefer, choose the method that best fits you.
This Guo Kui ‘锅魁’ – Crispy Stuffed Flatbread is
- Flavorful with a delicious filling
- Best paired with sambal oelek or homemade chili oil with sediment
- Perfect as a snack or a meal
- Oh So Delicious!
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback and see your beautiful re-creation. Leave me a comment, rate it, and tag @woon.heng and #woonheng to your photos on Instagram or Facebook. Happy cooking, friends!
Guo Kui (pot helmet) – streetfood
- 300 g all purpose flour
- 125 g room temperature water
- 50 g hot water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 can [15oz] chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 2½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- pinch of salt
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of Chinese 5-spice powder
- 6 stalks green onion chopped
- raw white sesame seeds
- oil for brushing and cooking
- Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and mix until well-combined.
- Then, rub the flour with oil until you get a coarse texture.
- Mix the water in a cup and add into the flour mixture.
- Knead into a smooth dough, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, divide the dough into 6 equal parts.
- Form each part into ball and rub it with oil. Then, place them in a greased pan. Cover and rest for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Chop chickpeas into smaller pieces, and set aside. Then, clean green onions by removing the browned parts and chop to about 1cm length.
- Heat up a non-stick pan with 2-3 teaspoons oil. Then, mash and sauté chickpeas until slightly browned, about 45 seconds.
- Season with soy sauce, sugar, 5-spice poweder, salt, and pepper. Dish out and divide it into 6 equal parts.
How to assemble Guo Kui
- To make the Guo Kui, brush some oil on a cleaned surface, preferably a smooth surface such as granite, marble or smooth wood.
- Place a dough on top of the oiled surface. Brush rolling pin with oil, flatten the dough with palm and roll the dough into a thin oblong sheet.
- Take one part of chickpeas and spread onto the sheet and press down so the chickpeas stick to the dough. Then, top it with chopped onions.
- Take the top edge and fold over then press to the side to seal. This is to avoid the filling from falling out while rolling.
- Continue to roll until you reach the other end of the dough. Try to pull the dough while rolling to get a thin layer.
- You'll end up with a plump cyclinder with pointy ends. Turn it upside down so the cyclinder is standing. Let it rest for 10 minutes and continue with the rest of the ingredients.
- After 10 minutes, take one cylinder and flatten it with minimal pressure into a disc. Go as far as you can without breaking the side (see notes). You'll have another chance to make it thinner later.
- Wet one side with water and then dip it with raw sesame seeds. Set aside.
How to cook Guo Kui
- Preheat a non-stick pan with 3- 4 tablespoons oil, then turn heat to low.
- Take one prepared dough, and flatten it again in between your palms. Place the no sesame seeds side down. Fit as many as the pan allows in one layer with a slight gap in between each.
- Pan fry until golden brown over very low heat (see notes) on each side for about 5 to 7 minutes. While waiting, preheat oven to 375F (190°C).
- Once all the Guo Kui are done, place them on a baking sheet pan. Bake them in a preheated oven for 20 minutes to give it the extra crispy texture.
- Remove and serve warm with a side of chili sauce.
- The longer you rest the dough, the softer it is which makes it easier to press down. Don’t use too much pressure when flattening it or the side will break
- To cook the Guo Kui, I highly recommend to use low heat and slowly cook it until golden brown on both sides before baking them.
- For bake-only method
- Brush flattened Guo Kui with oil and place them on a greased pan
- Bake at preheated oven of 400°F (200°C) for 40 minutes with a turn in between until fully cooked through
(Note: this method may not yield golden brown look as pictured)
- For pan-fry only
- Pan-fry flattened Guo Kui until golden brown on both sides over very low heat.
- Be sure to add enough oil if using this method