Today is the Lunar New Year and we bid farewell to the Year of the Rat and usher in the Year of the Ox. Fried Sesame Balls, or Jian Dui, are a classic Chinese dessert that is traditionally served during the Lunar New Year so that’s what I’m trying today!
Not only have I never had these before, but I’ve also never deep-fried anything so I knew this would be an interesting combination. Apparently these are quite difficult to do since it’s hard to retain the round shape so I set my expectations very low to avoid being disappointed. Depending on where you live it might be a little difficult to find glutinous rice flour and red bean paste but thankfully we have a Korean grocery store nearby so I didn’t have to order it online.
Note: I thought I had bought the right bean paste however it wasn’t until I was actually filling these that I realized it wasn’t the same. We bought sweet bean paste since that’s all I could find at the store but as I was filling I noticed the paste was a lot thinner than the picture showed. It created a few issues while trying to fill the dough and since this was just regular sweet bean paste and not red bean paste I definitely had an impact on the final outcome in regards to taste.
This really isn’t a difficult recipe when it comes to putting together the ingredients. I felt like my dough was a little stickier than it should have been but I was able to flatten it and push together easily so it was close. Filling the flattened dough rounds was a little trickier since the bean paste was really runny. The first couple of sesame seed balls seeped through a little but after a few I was able to get the hang out it a little. I gently dipped it in water and then rolled it in the sesame seeds and got ready to fry.
These are fried at a low temperature to avoid the sesame seeds from popping and the filling coming out so be sure to try and keep the oil at 250 F. Thankfully, with careful attention, the frying part actually wasn’t that bad and they started lightly browning as directed. They weren’t perfectly round when they went into the oil so they certainly aren’t as pretty as the picture on The Spruce Eats website but it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined initially!
I honestly have had very few Chinese desserts, but I know they’re usually not nearly as sweet as what we eat here in America. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but a friend likened the red bean paste to marmite or vegemite and I felt like that was fairly accurate (at least based on my experiences). Having never had these before I was afraid the chewiness of the dough meant I’d done something wrong. However, my friend had these while in China so she said the dough tasted just like what she had there where it’s crispy on the outside and chewy on in the inside. I’m glad I tried this but it wasn’t my favorite for sure and if I made this again I think I’d try doing a peanut butter filling.
Recipe Used: The Spruce Eats