Riding high after successfully making moo shu pork, I thought I'd tackle my favorite dim sum treat. For those of you who have never gone out to a Chinese restaurant for dim sum, let me tell you about it. It's fun, like a party. The waiters wheel around carts filled with tiny dumplings and other scrumptious bite-size goodies. Each one like a perfect little work of art. You can pick and choose only the ones you want and share with your friends. Some are savory and some are sweet. Which leads me back to my favorite...sesame balls. They're sweet (but subtly, like many Chinese desserts). They're crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You can make them without the sweet bean paste, but personally, I'd be sad if there was no prize inside.
SESAME BALLS (ZEEN DOY)
1/2 cup sesame seeds (or as needed)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 - 1 1/3 cups boiling water
3 cups glutinous rice flour
1 cup sweet red bean paste
vegetable oil, for frying
1. Spread the sesame seeds over a piece of wax or parchment paper. Place a small bowl of water beside the sesame seeds.
2. Dissolve the brown sugar in 1 cup of the boiling water.
3. Place the rice flour in a large bowl. Make a "well" in the middle of the bowl and add the dissolved sugar and water mixture. Stir until you have a sticky, caramel-colored dough, adding as much of the remaining 1/3 cup of boiling water as needed (don't add the water if not needed).
4. Pinch off a piece of dough roughly the size of an average golf ball (about 1 tablespoon).
5. In a wok or deep-sided, heavy saucepan, pre-heat the oil for deep-frying to 350º F. Make sure that there is at least 3 inches of oil in the wok.
6. Push your thumb into the dough to make an indentation. Roll 1 level teaspoon of sweet red bean paste into a ball. Place the red bean paste in the hole, and shape the dough over the top to seal. Make sure the red bean paste is completely covered. Continue with the remainder of the dough.
7. Dip a ball into the small bowl of water (this will help the sesame seeds stick to the ball). Roll the ball over the sesame seeds. Repeat the process with the remainder of the balls. Deep-fry the sesame seed balls, a few at a time, in the hot oil.
8. Once the sesame seeds turn light brown (about 2 minutes), use the back of a spatula or a large ladle to gently press the balls against the side of the wok or saucepan. Continue applying pressure as the balls turn golden brown and expand to approximately 3 times their normal size.
9. Drain the deep-fried sesame seed balls on paper towels. Serve warm. If preparing ahead, refrigerate and then re-heat the balls until they puff up again.
|glutinous rice flour (aka mochiko, sweet rice flour)|
|brown sugar dissolved in boiling water|
|pouring sugar/water into rice flour|
|sesame ball dough|
|ball of dough flattened into a disk|
|sweet red bean paste|
|dough with sweet red bean paste ball on top|
|wrapping the bean paste with dough|
|dough balls ready (all filled with bean paste)|
|ball dipping in water|
|rolling in sesame seeds|
|rolled and ready to fry|
|fried sesame balls|
|In Chinese restaurants, they sometimes snip the |
sesame balls with scissors to cut them in half (so
you can easily share). So I gave that a try.
|No wonder they do that, it works nicely.|
SWEET RED BEAN PASTE
Yield: 2 cups
8 oz. dried adzuki beans, soaked overnight in water
3 cups cold water
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canola oil (or other neutral oil or lard)
1. Drain beans and place in a heavy, medium pot with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat and let cool.
2. Drain the beans through a fine strainer. Set the strainer over a medium pot. Using a rubber spatula, press the beans against the strainer into the pot (discard the skins). Add the sugar and oils and cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture forms a thick, sweet paste, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator.
adapted from Emeril Lagasse
|adzuki beans soaking in water|
|soaked adzuki beans starting to cook|
|ready to strain|
|pressing against the strainer|
|mostly skins left|
|cooked with sugar and oil and thickened nicely|