In case you didn't know, Chinese New Years is on Monday, January 23, so I thought it was fitting that this month's installment of International Desserts would feature something Chinese. So, I consulted my BFF A, who is Chinese, and asked her what I should make. Her first suggestion was Egg Tarts, which is something that she and I both love. I tried those, and it was a massive failure. So, I asked for another option. She suggested Sesame Balls.
Sesame balls are a ball (duh) made of rice flour, coated with sesame seeds and deep fried. Inside the ball is sweet red bean paste. The rice flour makes them chewy, and the frying makes the crispy on the outside. All in all, these are a pretty tasty thing (but they are not good the day after you make them - yuck!).
I hit up my local Asian grocery store to find the majority of the ingredients. I recommend this, or, if you have a particularly well-stocked Asian section in your regular grocery store, you might have some luck there. Places like World Market also tend to carry some of the things you will need.
A found me the recipe I used, and it came from My Morning Chocolate, with the actual recipe from BellaOnline.
I have a few notes: First, I followed the directions, but after trying to form a couple of balls of dough, I felt that my dough was too dry, so I added a little more water. This helped a lot. Second, make sure you flour your hands really well. Even the "too dry" dough stuck like crazy if my hands weren't floured well enough. And third, don't expect your first few balls to be perfect -- they won't be. The first two I made were a total mess. Witness:
This says it makes 8 to 10 medium sized balls, but I followed the direction and got something closer to 15.
2 1/2 cups sweet rice flour
1/2 cup regular rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup hot water
18 oz can sweetened red bean paste
1 1/2 cup white sesame seeds
4 to 5 cups peanut oil
- In a large bowl mix together the sweet rice flour with the regular rice flour and stir until they are thoroughly combined.
- In a smaller bowl mix the sugar and the water and stir until the sugar dissolves.
- Pour the sugar water into the flour mixture and stir until a dough forms. It should have the consistency of cookie dough.
- Open the can of bean paste and set it aside.
- Place the sesame seeds in a large bowl or on a large plate and set them aside.
- Next, set up a work area to roll and fill the sesame balls. Have a floured surface on which to work. Place a little extra regular rice flour on the surface to flour our hands. Place the sweet bean filling, sesame seeds, a bowl of water, and a plate to place the finished balls on close by.
- Start making the balls by first flouring your hands. Then take a small piece of dough, about 1 1/2 tablespoons and form it into a circle. Place this circle in the palm of one of your hands. Using your thumb press gently in the center of this circle to make a small indentation. Then cup your palm around the indentation and use the knuckle of your opposite hand to push along the sides and form a cup or upside down hat shape.
- Once you have a hat shape, place about a teaspoon of the sweet bean paste in the center. Then carefully pull the edges up and over the paste an pinch them at the top. Make sure to pinch the dough on the outside of the ball instead of pushing it inside. Then gently roll and pat the ball into an even round shape.
- Once you have a ball shape, quickly dip it into the bowl of water and then roll it in the sesame seeds, coating the entire outside. Then place the finished ball on a plate. Continue making the rest of the sesame balls.
- In a pot or wok heat the oil on high, keeping it at a temperature of 350 or below.
- Once the oil is hot, add about 5 sesame balls, one at a time. Let them cook for about 6 minutes and then remove them with a slotted spoon and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. Continue cooking the rest of the balls in batches. Then let them cool for about 10 minutes, and place them on a plate to be served.