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Chinese New Year 2011

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Happy Belated New Year!  My family got together to have another one of our giant feasts to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit.  Each sub-family made a few dishes and for the 2nd year in a row, I attempted dessert.  Just the smell of sugar water mixed with glutinous rice flour brought back memories of making treats with my grandmother on her big waiter’s tray.

I’m hungry recalling everything we had, all with its own delicious set of adjectives – tender braised pork shoulder with fat choy (a kind of seaweed that grows in sand, “fat choy” is good luck), fragrant sticky rice, creamy smashed taro, succulent boiled chicken with ginger and scallion, sweet ketchup shrimp, big fat juicy Chinese mushrooms, salty roasted pork with extra crispy skin.  Can you tell I’m salivating?

I made the sesame balls again this year, using my blog post as reference (it’s the only way I can remember things these days).  I realized that it was a bit – ok, a lot – vague as to how I actually made them.  A bit of trial and error, and below is the recipe I used.

Sesame Balls (“Jien Duy”)
Adapted from several recipes

Makes about 3 dozen 1.5″ balls

1 lb glutinous rice flour
2 oz. regular rice flour
2 cups water
2 sticks Chinese brown rock sugar or 1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 can red bean paste
2 cups white sesame seeds

Canola oil, for frying

Put sesame seeds and some room temperature water in separate bowls, for coating the balls.

Bring 2 cups water and brown rock sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat.

Combine glutinous and regular rice flour in a medium bowl.  Pour sugar water mixture over the flour mixture.  When cool enough to touch, knead flour and water until homogenous and dough is moist but not wet, similar to Play Doh.  If mixture is too dry, add a little water; if too wet and sticky, add more rice flour.

Pinch off a golf-ball sized piece of dough and keep the rest covered with plastic wrap.  Keeping the ball of dough in one hand, use your knuckle to make an indentation for the filling.  Put 1 teaspoon of red bean paste inside and carefully pinch the hole closed and smooth out the crease.  Dip into the bowl of water and then into the sesame seeds, coating completely.  Set on a plate.  Repeat for the remainder of the dough – you will make about 3 dozen.

Heat canola oil in a large wok up to 375 degrees.  Fry the dough balls, 4-5 at a time, until each one puffs and is golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  To serve, snip the middle with a pair of scissors to let steam out and show the interior.

Hope this one works for you, guys!  I also made steamed Malay cake (“Ma lai guen”), which deserves its own post.  To be continued…

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