Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Glutinous Sesame Balls

It started gloomy this morning and the rain came back after a hiatus of 5 days. This summer has been wet and cool during the evenings, making me feel that autumn couldn't wait any longer and overtaken summer once and for all! The summer fruits fields must have suffered from this excessive moisture as I have witnessed spoiled cherries on the trees and mushed strawberries on the ground.

After a straight 2 weeks consumption of buttery and sweet cakes, I took a leave from baking and proceeded to deep frying instead. I have always wanted to make these sesame balls, which is a staple in the Dim Sum menus everywhere and knowing that it takes alot of effort to make, I procrastinated till today when the rain cooped me at home and I had nothing better to do than get messy and standing in front of the hot pot of frying oil!

The most popular filling for this glutinous sesame ball is lotus nut paste and I had a can sitting in the kitchen pantry, which I had intended to use for last year's mooncake making. After I discovered the way to make fresh fillings paste, I never bothered to turn back to canned ones anymore. Still, canned ones are good for lazy days like today. And I almost went nuts when I amended a recipe from the book and the batter came out so watery and I was all out of glutinous rice flour. To save the day, I added the Japanese Mochiko flour to make up and luckily it worked!
As with all deep frying, all you need is a right temperature of the cooking oil and all the patience in the world to see the glutinous balls slowly sizzle and churn around in the hot oil bath while you eagerly anticipate the gooey inside and crispy on the outside end product. I heated the oil slowly till boiling point and turned it down a little before I started the frying. To ensure that the glutinous balls do not stick to the bottom of the pan during the cooking, I used tongs to clasp one ball at a time and lower each ball into the hot oil, holding it for 5 seconds when it starts to sizzle and drop it in. It is a chemical reaction when the outer part seems to have coagulated perfectly and holds the inner part and this way, I had no sticky balls situation and no oozing of the lotus nut paste. The balls were first totally immersed in the oil and when it is almost cooked, they floated up to the surface. However, extra time is required to leave the balls in the oil to get an even browning and continuous turning with the tongs or chopstick of each ball is needed. These balls is best consumed while still warm and one is never enough if you are a deep fried food lover.


Recipe:

450gm glutinous rice flour

50gm wheat starch ("HK Tang Min Flour')

2 tsp Baking Powder

30gm/3 tbsp vegetable shortening

180gm sugar

1-1/2 cup water

400gm lotus nut paste or any other paste of your choice

2 tbsp white sesame seeds plus 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (or just use 2 tbsp white sesame seeds)

Vegetable oil or peanut oil for deep frying (around 4 to 6 cups)


Method:

1) Put the glutinous flour, sugar, wheat starch and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

2) Using hands, rub the vegetable shortening into the flour mixture, coating the dry ingredients thoroughly. Make a well in the centre.

3)Slowly add in the water to make a soft dough. Knead gently for 5 mins. Divide the dough to small balls, weighing 40gm each. This recipe yields almost 22 balls.

4)Divide the lotus nut paste into balls weighing 25 gm each.

5)If using 2 types of sesame seeds, combine them evenly and lay out on a flat plate.

6)Take one dough ball, gently flatten it on your palm, thinner towards the edges. Place a ball of the lotus nut paste in the middle of the dough and wrap up and join the edges. Roll the ball gently and put on your palm and sprinkle with the sesame seeds to coat. Continue with the rest of the dough balls and lotus nut paste.

7)Heat oil to rolling boil temperature. Test with one ball first and using a tong, clasp one ball and submerge into the oil without letting go. If the ball sizzles, the oil is ready. Hold each ball with the tong for 5 seconds each before completely dropping them into the oil.

8)Cook in batches of 4 each time and when the balls float to the surface, keep turning them around to get an even browning, about 3 min to 5 mins. When the balls are golden brown, lift them up and drain on kitchen paper towel. Serve warm.

Makes: 20 to 22 balls

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