Introducing my grandmother’s creation: crunchy glutinous rice balls coated in sesame seeds and filled with a satisfyingly chewy, subtly sweet black sesame paste center. This recipe impresses with its ability to come together using fewer than six ingredients and a budget-friendly low cost. My tips will help you make a fool proof batch!
What are sesame balls?
Sesame balls (jian du, zhima zhou, buchi, bánh cam, onde-onde) crispy and chewy treats made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, water, and oil. They are rice balls coated in sesame seeds and deep-fried to achieve a crispy, golden-brown exterior. When you bite into a sesame ball, you’ll experience a delightful combination of textures—a chewy and subtly sweet center, reminiscent of mochi. These sesame balls feature black sesame paste! If you prefer a plain sesame ball without filling, you can refer to my Sesame Balls recipe!
It was my Shanghainese grandma, whom I called Ah Po, who first introduced me to sesame balls. I have vivid memories of her preparing these treats at home for my sister and I to snack on when we were children. On lazier days, she would simply purchase them from the Chinatown. Ah Po always preferred the sesame balls filled with red bean paste. Her nurturing nature extended beyond her words, reaching me through the comforting flavors of her cooking.
Why This Works
In this post, I’m excited to share my grandmother’s cherished recipe for sesame balls with you! Each bite reveals a satisfyingly chewy center, with a hint of sweetness that is very comparable to mochi. This recipe stands out due to its simplicity, requiring six ingredients and costing just $10. It offers great versatility, allowing for various fillings like red bean, lotus seed, peanut butter, taro, green bean, or black sesame to be incorporated. If you love this recipe, you might also love my Best Ever Mango Sticky Rice Miso Chocolate Chip Cookies, Milk Tea Panna Cotta, and Milk Cookies with White Rabbit Candy recipes!
How do you prepare sesame balls with filling?
Prepare the dough by dissolving sugar in water over medium-high heat in a separate pan. Make sure that the sugar is completely melted. In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup of glutinous rice flour with the sugar water.
Mix until the consistency is thin and runny.
Gradually add the remaining glutinous rice flour or until the mixture becomes clumpy.
Continue mixing, either with a paddle or your hands, until the dough forms a soft and smooth ball. Add one teaspoon of oil into the dough and mix until uniform.
Afterward, divide the dough into eight equal pieces and shape them into round balls.
Cut open the bag of paste. Divide the paste into halves, then divide one of the halves into eight equal portions, making sure that each piece weighs 1 oz each.
Shape each piece of filling into a round ball. Be sure to clean your hands before handling the white sesame ball dough.
Now, take one of the dough balls and flatten it in your hands. Place one of the shaped filling balls in the center of the flattened dough. Carefully bring the edges of the dough together and pinch them to seal the filling inside.
Roll these filled dough balls generously in sesame seeds, making sure they are coated all around. Repeat until all sesame balls are completed. It’s important to ensure that all the sesame balls are similar in size. This way, they will fry evenly and at the same temperature, resulting in a consistent and delicious outcome!
How do you prepare sesame balls without filling?
If you prefer a sesame ball that is less sweet and less rich but still super delicious, you may consider a filling-free version. When sesame balls are air fried without any filling, they do not expand in the air fryer resulting in denser sesame balls with harder shells. For the optimal texture and taste, check out my Sesame Balls recipe!
How do you air fry sesame balls?
It’s worth noting that when frying sesame balls, only a minimal amount of oil is absorbed into the pastries. Additionally, once the sesame balls are cooked, you can place them on a paper towel to allow any excess oil to be absorbed, which is very effective at reducing the oil content.
If you’re not a fan of using oil, sesame balls can be air fried! Air frying is a cooking method that uses hot air circulation to cook food, similar to deep frying but with significantly less oil. It results in a crispy texture while reducing the overall fat content.
- Preheat your air fryer to around 350°F (175°C).
- Make the sesame balls then divide them into eight equal pieces
- Lightly coat the sesame balls with a little cooking oil to help them turn crispy and prevent sticking
- Place the sesame balls in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray, making sure not to overcrowd them
- Cook the sesame balls in the preheated air fryer for about 8-12 minutes until they become golden brown and crispy. Flip them over halfway through cooking for even browning.
- Once they’re cooked, take the sesame balls out of the air fryer and let them cool a bit before serving. They taste best when they’re warm and freshly cooked.
How do air fried sesame balls taste?
The main differences between air fried and deep fried sesame balls are in their texture, shape, and color. When air fried, sesame balls won’t be as crispy as the ones fried in oil. Additionally, they won’t have a perfectly round shape because they bake with a flat side. Lastly, their color might be slightly less consistent compared to the ones fried in oil.
How do you fry sesame balls?
Can I store sesame balls?
Unfortunately, sesame balls should not be stored. They need to be consumed on the same day they are made. I’ve experimented with air frying and microwaving them 24 hours later, but neither method yields satisfactory results. Air frying tends to make them excessively stale, while microwaving causes them to become soft, compromising their delightful crunchiness. When air frying sesame balls that have a filling, it can be challenging to evenly heat the filling without risking overcooking the exterior. As a result, the filling often remains cool in the process.
Additionally, it’s crucial to prepare them just before cooking to avoid the glutinous rice dough from drying out. If it becomes dry, the exterior may crack and burst during the frying process.
What is glutinous rice flour?
Glutinous rice flour is a type of flour made from a specific variety of rice known as glutinous or sticky rice. Unlike regular rice flour, it contains a higher amount of starch, which gives it its characteristic stickiness when cooked. This flour is commonly used in various Asian cuisines to make dishes like dumplings, noodles, and desserts. Its sticky nature helps provide a chewy texture to the final product.
One common question I receive is whether alternative flours can be used for this recipe. Unfortunately, the answer is no. It’s crucial to avoid using all-purpose flour or regular rice flour as substitutes because they have distinct characteristics. If you use plain rice flour, the resulting dough will lack the desired taste and texture. It may become dense, resembling a hockey puck rather than the desired chewy consistency. Therefore, it is important to stick to glutinous rice flour for the best results in this recipe.
The specific brand of glutinous rice flour I use is called Erawan Glutinous Rice Flour, which is a Thai variety. It is approximately $2.59 for a 1 lb bag in my region. With this amount, you can make three batches of sesame balls, yielding a total of 24 pieces. I advise against using different brands of glutinous rice flour because the water measurements may vary. To ensure consistent results, it’s best to stick with the recommended brand as specified in the recipe.
What types of filling can you use in sesame balls?
Sesame balls are not only popular in Chinese cuisine but also widely enjoyed in Filipino, Malaysian, and Vietnamese ones too. In Chinese cuisine, the most commonly used fillings are red bean, lotus seed, or black sesame. When selecting a filling, it is important to choose one that is very firm in texture. Fillings that are too soft or runny can make it difficult to shape the sesame balls and may result in bursting during frying. A firm filling ensures a successful batch.
You can easily find these fillings at a Chinese grocery store or through online Chinese grocery retailers. Look for them in the dry pantry aisle or refrigerated section; I have found them in both places at various supermarkets. Whether you prefer to visit a physical store or shop online, you’ll have convenient access to these delicious fillings to create the perfect sesame balls.
Air Fried Sesame Balls
- Air Fryer
- 1/2 cup (122ml) water
- 1/4 cup (50g) white sugar
- 3/4 cup plus less than 1/2 cup (130g) glutinous rice flour divided
- 8 oz (227g) black sesame paste
- 1/3 cup (48g)sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup neutral oil for frying
- Dough | Place a pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add water and sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow it to cool until lukewarm. In a large bowl, add 3/4 cup of the glutinous rice flour. Slowly pour in the sugar water and mix. It should look thin and runny. Add in the remaining glutinous rice flour and mix until clumpy. If the mixture is still thin, add in more flour one tablespoon at a time. Continue kneading with a paddle or your hands until it comes together in a smooth dough ball.Add oil to the dough and knead until well incorporated.
- Assemble | Divide the dough into 8 pieces and roll into spheres.Take the filling and divide it into eight separate portions, each about one tablespoon in size. Using your hands, shape each portion into a round ball.Now, take one of the dough balls and flatten it in your hands. Place one of the shaped filling balls in the center of the flattened dough. Carefully bring the edges of the dough together and pinch them to seal the filling inside.Toss in sesame seeds and repeat.
- Cook | Add the balls to the tray of an air fryer spaced at least 1 inch apart. Air fry for 15 mins at 170°F / 77°C. You may have the adjust the settings depending on your air fryer but the sesame balls should look expanded and pale at this stage. Finally, air fry for an additional 5-10 mins at 350°F / 176°C or until light brown. The exterior of the sesame ball should not be chewy and not too hard. Serve warm.If you've tried this recipe, please let me know what you think in the comments below! Your feedback is greatly appreciated and it helps me improve my recipes for future cooking adventures. And if you enjoyed it, don't forget to give it a thumbs up or share it with your friends! You can help my channel by tagging @vocabularyoffood in your cooks. ۶(◠ 。◠)۶