Jian Dui (Deep Fried Glutinous Rice Balls or Sesame Seed Balls)
Most things deep fried are popular and these sesame seed balls are no exception. Many of you have seen or are familiar with this popular dim sum dessert offering. They make a sweet ending to a sumptuous meal. Most Chinese restaurants here in the US make them with a red bean paste filling but they can also be filled with lotus seed or black sesame paste.
Jian Dui when translated means “fried heap”. I know this does not sound pretty but I assure you these deep fried glutinous rice balls are a true delight. They are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside and are delicious accompanied with a cup of jasmine or chrysanthemum tea. Their composition is similar to the traditional Tang Yuan (glutinous rice balls in sweet clear soup) dessert I posted recently.
Commercial sesame seed balls are usually made with just glutinous rice flour with a little wheat starch added to it. They tend to have a thicker, harder and crunchier exterior with a small amount of filling. Homemade ones sometimes come with mashed sweet potato added to the dough. This makes the balls a little softer but still equally if not more delicious. The mashed sweet potato also gives the jian dui a nice golden color, contrasting beautifully with the sesame seeds.
In the recipe below, I have decided to omit the wheat starch so that they remain gluten-free. I also did not add sugar to the dough as the red bean paste filling is already sufficiently sweet. I made the balls quite large, about 2 inches in diameter but you can certainly make them smaller if you prefer.
Caution : Always be extra careful when deep frying. Some have experienced the sesame seed balls exploding while deep frying. Make sure the heat level is at medium to medium low and fry the balls for no longer than 3 minutes per batch. They should be cooked as the crust is pretty thin. Remove any balls from the hot oil immediately if you see them expanding. Out of the 12 that I fried, only the first one expanded a little more but did not explode.
- 1 small sweet potatoes (7 oz/200g), peeled and cubed
- 2 cups (250g) glutinous rice flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 cups (400g) red bean paste
- ½ cup (70g) sesame seeds
- Canola oil for deep frying
Boil sweet potatoes in a medium sized saucepan with 1 cup (240ml) of water for about 10 minutes or until very soft. Remove from heat and mash sweet potatoes with a potato masher. Set aside to allow it to cool.
When sweet potatoes are cool enough to handle, add glutinous rice flour, baking soda, and approximately ½ cup (120ml) water to the sweet potatoes. Mix with a spatula until dough comes together.
Knead for 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little more glutinous rice flour or water if needed to form a smooth non-sticky dough.
Divide dough into 12 equal portions. Divide red bean paste into 12 equal portions**. Roll into balls.
Flatten a portion of dough on the palm of your hand. Place a ball of red bean paste in the middle. Wrap dough around red bean paste.
Roll dough with filling between your two palms to form a smooth round ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
Place sesame seeds in a shallow bowl. Roll glutinous rice balls in sesame seeds. Compact the sesame seeds into the glutinous rice balls by rolling them between your two palms.
Heat about 1½ inches (4cm) deep canola oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Gently lower 4 glutinous rice balls into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. This will take about 3 minutes***.
Remove with a strainer onto a paper lined plate. Repeat with the rest of the glutinous rice balls.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
**You can divide the dough and red bean paste into 16 or 20 portions if you prefer smaller balls.
***Always be extra careful when deep frying. Some have experienced the sesame seed balls exploding while deep frying. Make sure the heat level is at medium to medium low and fry the balls for no longer than 3 minutes per batch. They should be cooked as the crust is pretty thin. Remove any balls from the hot oil immediately if you see them expanding. Out of the 12 that I fried, only the first one expanded a little more but did not explode.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day!