This was supposed to be the year that malasadas went huge in the Bay Area.
That was the plan, anyway, when Randy Santos quit his day job to focus on Ocean Malasada, the malasada business that he and his wife, Dee Santos, started out of their Sunset District home in 2016. In March the Santoses had just inked their first deal to appear at Off the Grid’s massive flagship Fort Mason market, where thousands of food lovers swarm each week — the biggest audiences yet for Ocean Malasada’s version of the so-called “Portuguese doughnut,” which is a staple at bakeshops all over Hawai‘i.
They wound up selling at the Fort Mason market just once before the coronavirus pandemic shut it all down. Suddenly, the wildly popular pop-ups that Ocean Malasada used to do in various spots around San Francisco didn’t seem all that viable either, and Santos had to reconsider his entire plan for the year. “We were hoping for a full year of Off the Grid,” Santos says. “What do we do from there?”
Part of the answer was shifting the business to a curbside pickup model, based out of a commissary kitchen in Daly City. And another part came this past week, when Ocean Malasada announced its latest project: a malasada kit that would bring the company’s proprietary recipe into customers’ home kitchens.
After all, if it’s tougher during this time for customers to make it out to Daly City to pick up their malasadas, why not let them fry up a piping-hot batch at home, on their own schedule?
According to Santos, Ocean Malasada was conceived as the Filipino-American couple’s love letter to the malasadas they grew up eating as part of the Bay Area’s Pacific Islander community — but their own spin on the treat, which included a number of Filipino-inspired flavors (ube and leche flan, for instance) in addition to the traditional cinnamon-sugar topped variety. The difference between a malasada and a more typical doughnut, Santos says, is that they have more of a “bite” to them and are, at least in the case of Ocean Malasada’s version, more exceptionally fluffy: “We try to proof these things so they’re like clouds almost.”
The new kits are a dry mix, essentially, and are meant to contain everything a fried dough enthusiast needs to whip up a batch of hand-rolled malasadas — apart from an egg, a half cup of milk, and a teaspoon of oil. Though Santos acknowledges there’s a little bit of an intimidation factor that comes with having to heat up a big pot of oil for frying, the kit is meant to be exceedingly easy and accessible. “I’d put it up against a box of brownies,” he says.
Priced at $11, each kit has enough batter mix to make a batch of 10 malasadas. And the best thing about it is that customers will be able to enjoy the fried treats when they’re still hot — something that isn’t typically possible when they buy the premade ones from Ocean Malasada. As Santos puts it, “Right out of the fryer, that’s the best.” And while the kit only contains the ingredients for making plain malasadas, Santos says he plans to launch a new social media account specifically for the kits where he’ll share recipes and tips for different fillings that customers can make.
Buying the kits also another way for Ocean Malasada superfans to support the business during what has been a challenging year. After all, a single customer can only buy and eat so many malasadas at one time, whereas the kits have a much longer shelf life if someone wants to stock up — or send out a few as holiday gifts.
The kits will be available to preorder for curbside pickup at the Daly City commissary kitchen starting on Wednesday, December 16. Eventually, Santos says, he’ll start shipping them throughout the Bay Area.
Ocean Malasada’s commissary kitchen is at 25 Washington Street in Daly City. Its hours of operation are Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays 10 a.m.–1 p.m., with delivery also available via the third-party apps.