Angela Liu’s mom, Wan, came over from her home in Malaysia to help with Angela’s baby delivery and care. As a bonus, Wan instructed Angela and a few friends how to prepare various Cantonese dishes.
The first dish was fried sesame balls. I was especially excited to take her lesson on this, as sesame balls straight out of the fryer are a real treat. Like fresh bagels, sesame balls, once cooled, just aren’t the same.
Red Bean Paste:
1 pound red beans
8 cups water
Glutinous Rice Balls:
1 3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1 pound glutinous rice flour
1 cup sugar dissolved in 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup white sesame seeds
Peanut oil for frying
Soak the red beans in cold water for two hours. Drain and discard the water. Add the cups water to the beans and bring the water to a boil. Cook the beans over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours, until they are tender. Purée the cooked beans in a blender. Heat the puréed beans in a hot wok with the sugar and oil to make a paste. Let cool.
Mix the water slowly until the flour forms a ball, adding water as needed, to create a dough of thick pie dough consistency.
Pull off about a 1/2 inch marble of dough. Flatten into a concave disk about 2 inches in diameter.
Make a small marble of red bean paste. Place it in the center of the dough disk. Seal the dough to make a ball and roll it between your hands to make it round.
Roll the ball in the sesame seeds and coat it thoroughly. Roll the ball between your hands to press the seeds lightly into the dough. Place on a plate and continue to make additional balls.
Heat the oil in a wok to a low frying temperature (about 325°). Lower heat to medium-low (warning: higher heat will cause the sesame seeds to burn). Put a batch of five balls into the hot oil and roll them around in the oil periodically for about the first two minutes of cooking. They will start to brown.
Press each ball down with a flat spatula against the bottom of the wok for about 10 seconds until it begins to puff, then release it and move on to the next ball. When done with all the balls, return to the first one and press it down against its edge, shaping it back into a ball, for another 10 seconds until it begins to puff again. Release and proceed with the other balls. Continue this pressing for about eight minutes, until the balls have become golden brown. drain on paper towels.
Here’s a secret: The more you press them, the larger the ball will puff and the thinner the shell of the ball will become! So if you like the balls thin and delicate, press away!
Serve and eat while warm and crispy.
Makes about 4 dozen sesame balls.
NOTE: Glutinous rice flour can be found in any Asian market. Here is a photo of the brand we used.