Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Red Bean Sesame Puffs (because puffs sound better than balls)

My sister's class is putting on a "We Come From Everywhere" play - singing about "melting pots" and dressing in ethnic costumes. The teacher also asked families to bring desserts unique to the children's country of origin for the reception afterwards. Now, the Chinese don't eat a lot of sweets, but when we do, there's usually the presence of a lot of oil, sugar, and the occasional lard. Emeril would probably be waving his hands around wildly, giddily shouting "PORK FAT RULES!"

This recipe is for sesame puffs, made with glutinous rice flour and filled with a red bean paste, coated with white sesame seeds and fried until golden brown and, well, puffy. It's a traditional dessert served at dim sum restaurants, usually snipped in half with scissors to reveal a dark red center surrounded by a ring of white. The crispy outside provides a contrast against the chewy rice flour layer and creamy red bean center. There's no sweetener in the dough, so the sesame puffs are only as sweet as the filling. I used a packaged red bean paste because it's convenient and tastes pretty good (about 1/2 cup for this recipe). It is also quite a bit of work to make a really smooth paste at home due to the need to remove the peels from the red beans. However, a filling of crushed red beans would taste good too.

Red Bean Filled Sesame Puffs
Makes 25 puffs


1 package glutinous rice flour
2 1/2 - 3 cups cold water

Place rice flour in a large bowl. Mix in 2 cups water to start, and gradually add in more until the right consistency is reached. The dough should hold together when pinched and not be sticky or liquidy. It's a fairly firm dough, and should feel a bit like clay.
1 cup dried red beans
Sugar to taste

Wash red beans, discarding any that are damaged. Place beans in a stockpot and cover with cold water, allowing them to soak overnight (this shortens the cooking process). The next day, bring beans and water to boil and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours until beans are tender, adding more water as necessary. Drain the beans and puree them in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Pass the puree through a sieve to remove the skins and add sugar to desired sweetness.

To make crushed red beans, cook beans in the same method and smash them with a large spoon. Add sugar for sweetness. I like to keep the skins in the smashed red beans.


3/4 cup white sesame seeds

Clear oil to fry

To Assemble:

Pinch off a piece of dough slightly larger than a golf ball and roll into a ball. Make a depression in the center, and form the dough into a bowl. Fill with 1 - 1 1/2 tsp of filling, being sure to not overfill. Pull the lips of the bowl together, enclosing the filling. Roll to form a uniform ball. Place filled balls on a floured plate or board and cover with a towel to prevent drying out.

To Fry:
Right before frying, brush the balls all over with water and roll in white sesame seed, pressing the seeds in. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Fry 4-5 dough balls at a time, rotating them to ensure even cooking. The balls are ready when they float to the top and the sesame seeds start to brown, about 5-6 minutes. You should cut one open to make sure the dough is cooked through.

Drain the cooked puffs on paper towel. Serve while warm.


Steph said...

Yum! When my mom makes these, I eat until I get sick from all the oil. They taste amazing with black sesame paste too!

Anonymous said...

OMG I love these!!
I've never tried frying stuff in oil, I may have to track you down in TKD and ask you about the specifics before I try making these (which I ultimately will) ;)

<3 Anna L.