Learn how to make fried sesame balls (Jian Dui or Jin Dui) with a tested method at home. You can choose red bean paste or black sesame paste as filling, even empty sesame balls. Follow the guide and make lovely crispy fried sesame balls.
Table of Contents
What are sesame balls?
Fried sesame balls are made from sticky rice flour. Those sesame balls are usually filled with sweet red bean paste or black sesame paste and deep-fried until golden crisp. They are coated with toasted sesame seeds on the outside, giving them a nutty flavor. It has several other names, like Jian Dui, Jin Dui,Ma Tuan or Ma Yuan. It can be served as a snack or breakfast.
Let me guess, have you ever tried those fried sesame balls in dim sum halls? Possibly yes! Those sesame balls usually are served to enjoy savory dim sum dishes of various sizes. In fact, sesame ball is a very common breakfast dish popular far beyond Guangdong cuisine (cause of the popularity). It gets several nicknames in Chinese—Jian Dui or Ma Tuan. We usually have this as breakfast during my high school time. Then more and more popular healthy ideas come to life, so we did not cook them frequently in the following years. However, when it comes to holidays, a small batch of sesame balls will bring almost every guest back to old memories. I feel it is necessary to record how to make these fried sesame balls at home.
It is a tradition to make some dishes with glutinous rice (sweet sticky rice) for Chinese people. For example, we have Chinese rice dumplings (Zongzi) for Dragon Boat Festival, Chinese tteok for the Middle Autumn day, sesame rice dumpling for Lantern Festival, and NianGao for Spring Festival. Glutinous rice is gluten-free rice with lower production relatively in China. Chinese people treasure the healthy value of sticky rice and thus provide various yummy dishes not only for holidays but also daily desserts and breakfast- like glutinous rice balls with coconut, mixed congee, and glutinous rice balls with crushed peanuts.
About the filling
The most popular filling choice for sesame balls is red bean paste filling and black bean filling. No matter which one you choose, make sure any wrap a very small amount in each of the sesame balls.
You may also choose not to include a filling inside. But still, need to finish the wrapping process to make sure there is an empty space inside the sesame ball.
Glutinous Rice Flour
Glutinous rice flour is made from glutinous rice with a special treating method named "水磨". To produce glutinous rice flour, firstly glutinous rice shall be immersed in water for about two to three hours until it can be easily mashed by hand. In rural areas in China, the local people often use a stone mill to smash glutinous rice into rice milk. The rice milk will be poured into a yarn bag which is hung up to drain the rice milk. When the water in the rice milk is drained after a few hours, glutinous rice flour is initially accomplished and then it will be dried in the sun for long-time storage.
Water and flour ratio
Have you ever tried to make those sesame balls at home? And succeeded? Haha, I guess some of you guys might have tried, but ended with frustration. To make the perfect sesame balls, here are some tips Elaine would love to share publicly.
The ratio between the flour and water should be between 5:2 and 2:1. If too much water is added, the balls will collapse completely after deep-frying. If too little water is added, the shaping process will be quite difficult and the balls may explode during the deep-frying process.
How much sugar
The ideal ratio for the restaurant version usually calls for a ratio of 5:2 (flour: sugar). I know people are matching their sugar intake each day. We can only slightly reduce the amount of sugar for a homemade version. The lack of sugar will not only influence the taste, but also the golden brown color.
How to avoid explosion during the deep-frying process
You may have this experience: you made perfect balls with red bean filling, and check the oil temperature very well but still, you get the balls to explode and oil sprinkle almost everywhere in your kitchen.
I have developed a lovely method to make sure this will not happen once again. The key skill here is to boil around 1/10 of your flour first and then mix it with the remaining flour. When glutinous rice flour meets heat or hot water, it becomes sticky, which can prevent an explosion in the deep-frying process if the oil temperature is well controlled.
Oil temperature of the sesame balls
If you get a kitchen thermometer, heat the oil to around 120 degrees C. But relax if you do not have one. Just throw a smaller glutinous ball into the oil, and start deep-frying when you will see lots of small bubbles around. I would strongly suggest watching the video as I instructed lots of details about how to deep-fry the sesame balls. Higher oil temperature will burn the surface while the inner side keeps uncooked. However, lower oil temperature cannot bring you a perfect golden brown color.
Time to stop deep-frying
I would suggest transferring the balls out when they are slightly golden brown or medially golden brown because the left heat will darken the color in the following minutes. We call this as “后油” effect in Chinese, which literally means after deep-frying effect because of the hot oil.
In a small bowl, take around 2 tablespoons of glutinous rice flour out and mix with around 15ml water. Knead until smooth.
Bring some water to a boil and then cook the small dough for around 2 to 3 minutes. Prepare a bowl with cold water on the side. Then the small dough is ready, and transfer out to the remaining flour.
In a large bowl, mix the left flour with sugar and baking powder. And then add the small dough in. Break with hand and slowly stir in water. Continue kneading until smooth dough. The dough is completely different from the tangyuan dough, it is more elastic and much softer.
Further, shape the dough into long log and then divide into 20 equal portions.
Shape the small glutinous rice balls into a bowl and then wrap around 1 teaspoon of filling, either black sesame or red bean paste. Seal completely and shape into a round ball again.
Prepare two bowls: one with clean water and the other with sesame. Take one ball with one hand, quickly dip in water and then roll the ball in a sesame bowl with another hand. This is a personal tip to make the process easier. Press the balls several times so the sesame seeds can stick to the surface. Repeat to finish all the sesame balls.
Heat enough oil (at least cover the balls) until 120 degrees C (or you can test the temperature with a smaller ball). Carefully add the sesame balls, I will recommend using a small scoop to help. Slow your fire immediately and slowly deep-fry the balls until slightly golden brown. Turn off the fire; transfer out and absorb extra oil with paper. Cool down for several minutes and enjoy!
How to store and reheat
If you make a larger batch, you will need to deep-fry them for later serving. Another way is to cook in the oven for 4-5 minutes.
How to serve sesame balls
Sesame balls are the perfect option for Chinese breakfast. But since it is deep-fried, the recommend serving way is to serve it with soy milk, congee, or other savory dishes like Chinese cucumber salad.
Sesame Balls-Jian Dui
- 1.5 cup glutinous rice flour
- 80 g sugar , about ⅓ cup+ 2 tbsp.
- 100 ml water or 10ml more for adjusting , include the water for small dough, around ⅓ cup+ 1 tbsp.
- 1 cup roasted white sesame seeds , homemade instructions here
- filling as needed , red bean paste or black sesame filling
- water for dipping
- more glutinous rice flour for dusting
- oil for frying
Prepare the small dough
- In a small bowl, take around 2 tablespoon of glutinous rice flour out and mix with around 15ml water. Knead to until smooth.
- Bring some water to boil and then cook the small dough for around 2 to 3 minutes. Prepare a bowl with cold water on the side. When the small dough is ready, transfer out and add it into other sticky rice flour.
Prepare the main dough
- In a large bowl, mix the left flour with sugar. And then add the small dough in. Break with hand and slowly stir in water. Continue kneading until smooth dough.
- Further shape the dough into long log and then divide into 20 equal portions. Shape each portion into a round ball.
Assemble the sesame balls
- Shape the small glutinous rice balls into a bowl and then wrap around 1 teaspoon red bean paste in. Seal completely and shape into a around ball again.
- Prepare two bowls: one with clean water and the other with sesame. Take one ball with one hand, quick dip with water and then roll the ball in sesame bowl with another hand. This is a personal tip to make the process easier. Press the balls several times so the sesame seeds can sticky to the surface. Repeat to finish all the sesame balls.
Frying the balls
- Heat enough oil (at lest cover the balls) until 120 degree C (or you can test the temperature with a smaller ball). Carefully add the sesame balls, slow your fire immediately and slowly deep-fry the balls until slightly golden brown. Turn off fire; transfer out and absorb extra oil with paper. Cool down for several minutes and enjoy!
Hello! I would like to try to make these but can you convert the measurements from ml to cups or teaspoons? Thank you!!
These are seriously good. I have loved these sesame balls for many years, and now I can make them myself. Thank you for such clear instructions. It will definitely not be the last time I make them! I’m afraid they are too good, already I have eaten too many.
Enjoying your balls Katie. Thanks so much for this wonderful feedback.
Thanks for the recipe. How do you recommend storing left overs? Inside the fridge or keep outside in room temp?
I usually keep them in room temperature and re-fried before next serving.
Mine were too gooey. I put 2 large chocolate chips in each, I know......but anyway I think my oil was the issue honestly. It was too cool at first then too hot then I was frustrated. The dough is sitting in the kitchen waiting for me to cool down . ?
These are wonderful! I would like to try them with poppy seed filling. Do you have a recipe for poppy seed filling? All the ones online are European and just don't seem like the kind I have eaten in Chinese restaurants.
Can you recommend any alternative fillings?
Any type of (sweetened) bean paste is good. Personally I love crushed peanuts (with sugar and honey) ones!
thank you for sharing the recipe. am excited to try it but am looking for a recipe to make the coconut filling. do you have a recipe for coconut filling? thank you
I am sorry I do not have a coconut filling recipe right now.
If I want to freeze them, do I cook them first and then refry them when ready? Or should I freeze them uncooked? Can I freeze uncooked dough?
I do not think freeze uncooked dough is a good idea. But I have not tested yet. I suggest you frying the sesame balls until half cooked (shape well formed but quite pale in color). And then re-fry them for a short time before serving.
Great thank you! Also, would it be possible to make the dough a few hours beforehand before making the sesame balls and frying them?
Sure. Just cover well and avoid from drying out.
Just made these. Sooo good. I made 1/2 batch with non roasted sesames and other half i roasted sesame seeds. Its better to roast them. I had some of the stuffing come out during frying but i know ill get better at rolling them when i make it next time. I had to use a few of the dough balls to do some patch work. Will definetely make these again. thanks for this easy recipe..
You slightly press the ball in the two hands alternately. But the sesame seeds do fall during the deep-frying process.
Press the dough in two hands alternately. But the sesame seeds do fall off during the deep-frying process.
Hi, may i know why we need to prepare the small dough and afterwards mix with the big dough instead of straight away making the big dough altogether?
I tried a test without the cooked small dough, the balls can easily blow out during the frying process, which is very dangerous. With the cooked dough, the problem is almost solved.
Can i boil (like tang yuan) these instead of frying? I wint coat them with sesame seeds before frying
Boiling makes the sesame balls super soft and impossible to handle.
Ohh ok. Would you have a recipe for tang yuan? Thanks
Check this one, Eileen.