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Sesame Balls

Crispy from deep frying, sweet from the red bean paste filling, chewy from the sweet glutinous rice dough, this sesame ball "dumpling" is an irresistible sweet snack.

Perfect for serving during festivals, the round shape and golden color is representative of gold/money to wish fortune and tradition tells us that the sticky sweet glutinous rice flour was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen god with the goal of sticking his mouth shut so that he could not talk badly of the human family in front of the Jade Emperor.

These sesame balls can be filled with a variety of pastes but for ease I usually fill with ready to use red bean paste which I get from my local Asian store.

Make sure to follow directions carefully to get a sesame ball that expands with the goal of a hallow cavity with the paste filling rather than a solid dense ball.
If you're feeling really ambitious and want to try to make your paste from scratch, try red bean, mung bean, lotus or black sesame all of which I have found ready made in cans as well in Asian markets.

Sesame Balls

Ingredients (makes 10 balls)

1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup boiling water

1/4 cup room temperature water

1 can red bean paste (you will use a little more than half the can)

1/2 cup sesame seeds

4 cups peanut or vegetable oil (for frying)


Make the outer dough. Place 1/2 cup (60g) glutinous rice flour and sugar in a bowl. Pour 1/4 cup of boiling water over the flour/sugar mixture and mix until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup room temperature water and the remaining 1 cup of the glutinous flour. Mix with a spatula until all the flour has been incorporated forming a dough. Knead with your hands to form a ball. If too dry and crumbly add 1 additional teaspoon of water at a time fully incorporating before adding the next if needed. Dough should not be sticky.

Weigh dough on a kitchen scale and make note of the total weight. Should weigh approximately 400 g. Place on a plate and cover tightly with plastic wrap or place in a ziptop bag or airtight container to let rest for 30 minutes allowing all the flour to hydrate.

The filling will be about half the weight of your dough. When you open the can, give the paste a good stir. It will be smooth but sticky. Weigh out half the weight of your dough ball in paste, approximately 200 g. You will divide this into 10 portions approximately 20 g each. Use a tablespoon or a small portion scoop. Don't worry if balls are not perfectly shaped. Place paste balls on a plastic or sheet of parchment paper and place in freezer for 20-30 minutes. When they are firm enough to handle flour your hands with a bit of glutinous rice flour and shape each ball into a more uniform sphere by rolling between your hands. No scale? No problem, aiming for a small ping-pong ball or super bouncy ball size.

Prepare and divide the dough. Divide into 10 equal pieces (approximately 40 g each) and roll into balls. Place back on plate, in ziptop bag or airtight container to prevent from drying until ready to fill.

Take a dough ball and flatten into a 3 inch disk, slightly thicker in the middle. Place 1 ball of filling in the center and enclose the filling with the dough. Pinch the seams to seal. Try to make the thickness of the dough as even as possible. You can pinch extra dough from the sealed end to fill empty spots or reinforce thinner spots. Roll between hands to form a uniform, smooth ball.

Prepare 2 small bowls, one half filled with cold water and the other with sesame seeds. Dip ball quickly in the bowl of water to moisten the outside then transfer the ball in the bowl of sesame seeds and roll until the entire ball is evenly covered with seeds. Roll the ball in your hands to embed the seeds into the dough. Place on parchment paper until ready to fry.

Heat 4 cups (about halfway up the pot) of peanut or vegetable oil in a medium saucepan to 325°F. Use a thermometer. It's important that the oil not be too hot or the outside will cook too quickly.

Add 4-5 sesame balls into the oil, dropping gently to not splash hot oil on yourself. Use a slotted spoon to constantly and gently move the balls around so they don't stick to the bottom or to each other. Adding the sesame balls will lower the oil temperature. Adjust the heat slightly higher or lower keep the temperature around 300°F.

After a few minutes, your sesame balls will begin to float. Now comes the time to help these balls expand. If your spoon is wide enough you can do multiple balls at a time, otherwise attend to one ball at a time. Use your spoon to gently press sesame balls down against the bottom or the sides of the pot, keeping them submerged in the oil. As you press you will feel the ball expanding. Do the same to each of the balls continuously rotating and pressing for 2-3 minutes.

Increase the oil temperature to 350°F. Fry them for another 5 minutes or until they turn a light golden brown. The outside should be crispy at this point. Remove the finished sesame balls to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up excess oil. They will darken up a little more as it cools. Repeat process with remaining balls. Cool for a few minutes and enjoy! If you don't eat them right away and they get soft, feel free to reheat in a toaster oven. Fresh is best though!

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