Golden, deep-fried orbs, a batter rich with milk and sugar...this is Andagi, an Okinawan doughnut that is Hawaii staple at local markets, bento shops, and bon dances around town.
Meet the andagi!
What Is Andagi?
Andagi (also called Sata Andagi*) is a fried Okinawan doughnut that's about the size of a ping pong ball. It's has a crispy crust, and inside is cake-like. They are not light and fluffy like a yeast doughnut. They are hearty and moist, and more akin to a cake doughnut (but with this crazy, crunchy crust). Andagi must be eaten hot.
A well-made andagi has a slight "tail." This "tail" is created when you drop/flick the shaped dough into the bubbling oil with the flick of your wrist. This "tail" part is extra crunchy and so good to eat.
Because we love food (especially anything carb-y, sweet, and fried) in Hawaii, we embraced andagi with open arms. Now you can find andagi all over Hawaii!
*In Hawaii we call it, "andagi." But in Okinawa, "andagi" refers to any food that is deep-fried. These doughnuts are specifically called "sata andagi." This is what each component of "sata andagi" means:
- Sata = sugar
- Anda = oil
- Agi = to fry
All the foods that come to Hawaii get Hawaii-ized which makes literally all the food in Hawaii very unique. Traditional Okinawan andagi calls for just three ingredients: cake flour, sugar, and eggs.
But Hawaii's andagi features the addition of milk (sometimes evaporated milk) and vanilla. This makes Hawaii andagi both sweeter and softer...all wonderful things ^_^
Cannot emphasize how important it is to eat the andagi hot! You can take the great andagi in the world, but if it's been fried hours before and sitting around at temperature...it will just be a very ok andagi. Almost not worth eating.
I understand you can't always get hot andagi (and what if you want to bring it over to your grandma's house?) The solution is to pop it in the toaster oven for a few minutes, till it gets all hot and crisp again. Make sure you don't burn it.
Andagi versus Malasadas
Andagi and malasadas are both popular snacks in Hawaii. They share many overlaps, but are completely different creatures. Here's a breakdown.
Andagi are similar to malasadas in that:
- Both are fried dough.
- Both have no hole in the middle (unlike a doughnut). *Only exception are the Punahou carnival malasadas.
- Both must be a friend a deep golden color.
But they are also completely different in that:
- Andagi dough is heavier and dense.
- Andagi is not rolled in sugar. Malasadas are rolled in sugar. (FYI, andagi rolled in black sugar (kokuto) is common in Okinawa but you will not find that in Hawaii.)
- Andagi has a thick "crust." Malasadas do not.
- Because andagi is much more dense/filling, each andagi ball is smaller in size than malasada.
- Andagi dough is less sweet than malasada dough.
- Andagi does not require yeast. Malasadas are made with a yeast dough.
Andagi at Bon Dance Festivals
Have you been to a bon dance? If not, please make sure to visit one next time you are in Hawaii during obon season (June to August). It's a dance...but really, we know it's all about the food ^_^
Most bon dances take place at a local Hongwanji (Japanese Buddhist temple). The purpose of a bon dance is to celebrate and honor our ancestors. There's dancing (you can watch or participate), lots of crafts/activities, and many food stands. Bon dances are very family friendly and one of the many traditions that make Hawaii so special.
Bring an empty stomach! You can get everything from waffle dogs, spam musubi, garlic shrimp, plate lunches, shave ice, and most important...andagi! The andagi line is usually the longest. Imagine a giant pot of bubbling oil, an assembly line of dough makers, dough shapers, dough friers, and then the finished andagi bagger. So hot! So good!
Neat bit: Sometimes dip hot dogs in leftover andagi batter, and then deep-fry. They are called Andadogs! Basiecally corndogs made with andagi batter. VERY good.
Where To Get Andagi
- Teruya's Andagi (Oahu) - You know it's good if it's in the name ^_^ Not only does Teruya's make one of my favorite bentos in Hawaii, they also make great andagi! They fry fresh batches every morning, go early for hot andagi right out of the fryer (like malasadas, that's when they are the best...cold andagi, not so great).
- Zippy's (Oahu, Maui, Big Island) - Andagi is made/fried to order at Zippy's! Whether you're getting one or a dozen, you'll be guaranteed a hot andagi. Full post on Zippy's here.
- Jikoen Andagi (Oahu) - Can only get from Jikoen Hongwanji Mission during obon festival season (June-August).
- Da Andagi Guy (Oahu) - Da Andagi Guy shows up at a bunch of different places. He is in front of Don Quijote market (Waipahu location), other times he's in Mililani, and he's also at many local bon dance events (like the Hongwanji Mission one).