Today is the big family Chinese New Year dinner and our contribution is, as usual, dessert. I’ve had an inkling to go back to my roots and decided to make some traditional and “fusion” Chinese desserts.
One of several experiments was traditional sesame balls, or phonetically, “jien duy”. These are made of glutinous rice flour and filled with red bean or lotus seed paste, then covered with sesame seeds and deep fried to be puffy, sticky and crispy goodness.
This really brought me back to the days as a little kid sitting at the kitchen table helping my Grandma around Chinese New Year. She would work using an old round waiter’s tray and I mainly remember lots of flour and kneading. Wish I had made more effort to learn the language and the recipes – many have been lost with her passing.
One of my parents’ woks has a nifty rack attached to the top to drain oil:
The most difficult part was preventing the bean paste from squishing out.
1) Roll a ball of dough in your palm
2) Use your 2nd knuckle on your opposite index finger to make a well.
3) Spoon some bean paste in the well, leaving adequate room on the sides to pinch.
4) Pinch closed like a dumpling, then gently re-roll into a ball.
I did substitute some of the glutinous rice flour with some regular rice flour based on another recipe, but their ratio made the dough too dry. in the end i probably had an 8:1 ratio glutinous to regular, and added maybe 2 cups of water. It’s one of those things where you just keep practicing and recognize what it’s supposed to be like.
It really came out tasty and light! My aunt said Grandma would be proud.
We also made Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream, but made it creamier and more like a gelato by adding cornstarch ;
and Lychee Ice Cream that was inspired by a few recipes, but tweaked so much I think I can pretty much claim it as my own (not that I could repeat it because it morphed so much). Extremely flavorful but it was much icier than I would have preferred due to the excess lychee juice. I think I’ll try to drain it next time and use a custard base (used coconut milk and whole milk, no eggs or heavy cream);
plus Yellow Split Pea Pudding (ma dao gou). My dad said, “Since when did you want to be so Chinese?”
Since I remembered how yummy roots are.