Sesame seed balls or simply sesame balls or Jian Dui in Mandarin is a Chinese sweet. They are made of glutinous rice flour and filled with different fillings like black sesame paste, red bean paste, crushed peanuts paste or lotus seed paste (traditional style) sweetened with sugar. They are often described as sweet, crispy on the outside and chewy inside. These sesame seed balls are eaten all year round and are extremely popular during special occasions like Chinese New Year and birthdays as they represent happiness, laughter and good and expanding fortune due to the expanding balls when cooking them and their golden colour. For my gluten free recipe, I am using homemade gluten free black sesame paste as my fillings. This recipe is also vegan, dairy free, nut free, soy free, corn free, egg free and refined sugar free.
The history of sesame seed balls can be discovered all the way back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907) when they were regarded as an imperial palace food in Chang’an, China. Then this Chinese sweet spread out to other regions of China and Jian Dui turned into a Southern Chinese cuisine. In modern day, sesame balls are commonly served at yum cha restaurants as a sweet dim sum or dim sum dessert and are also sold at Chinese bakeries worldwide. Some Chinese bakeries serve up super sized sesame balls as well. Furthermore, they are a popular street (hawker) food in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines.
- Some rice bran oil for deep frying
- 150 g 5.3oz white sesame seeds for coating
- Some water for coating
For the Black Sesame Filling:
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 150 g 5.3oz black sesame seeds
- 5 tablespoons agave syrup
- 20 g 0.7oz desiccated coconut
For the Dough:
- 500 g 1.1Ib/17.6oz glutinous rice flour
- 1½ cups water
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For preparing the black sesame filling:
- Heat up a frying pan, toast the black sesame seeds for around 5 minutes on low to medium heat or until aromatic. Taking care not to burn the sesame seeds.
- Transfer the black sesame seeds to a Nutribullet or food processor, blend the sesame seeds until you get a fine paste.
- Transfer the ground sesame seeds to the frying pan, add desiccated coconut, extra virgin olive oil and agave sugar, stir well to form a smooth and thick paste on low to medium heat. Transfer to a bowl and cool in the refrigerator.
- Once cooled, divide and roll the sesame paste into 22 small balls (about 2cm in diameter) and set aside on a large plate. You may have some extra sesame paste leftover.
For the dough:
- Add all the glutinous rice flour in a large bowl, make a well in the middle and add 1 cup of water, agave syrup, vanilla extract and salt, use a spatula to mix briefly.
- Then start kneading with your hands and gradually add the rest of the ½ cup water as you knead into a smooth and slightly sticky dough.
- Pinch and shape the dough into around 22 equal size balls (around 45g/1.6oz), flatten the balls into a 3 inch disc with your fingers with the middle thicker than the edges and fill each disc with 1 small ball of the black sesame paste.
- Wrap the black sesame ball with the dough and fold into half. Pinch some dough from the sides to fill the top of the dough and gently form a smooth ball with your palms and place on a large plate. Repeat with the rest of the dough until finished.
- Dip each ball into a bowl filled with some water and immediately coat each ball generously with some white sesame seeds, roll and shape into a rounded ball again while pressing the white sesame seeds onto the balls.
For cooking the filled sesame balls:
- Heat up a wok filled with some rice bran oil to 120C or 250F and just enough to cover the sesame balls.
- Turn the heat to the lowest setting and carefully drop about 7 balls into the wok and cook for about 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown on low heat. Drain on kitchen paper towel. Repeat and cook the balls in 3 batches.
- Best when served immediately after frying.