Jin Deui (Cantonese, aka matuan, zhi ma qiu, bánh cam, etc etc depending on your region or literally a “fried pile”) otherwise known as sesame balls is a sweet dessert made of glutinous rice flour and various sorts of sweet fillings in many Asian cultures such as Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, etc. etc. It is a delicious dessert with the light crispy and chewy deep fried outer shell and mellowy sweet filling. In my case, my favorite is mung bean!
I shadowed my Grand Aunt (yi po, younger sister of my paternal grandmother) for the day and she showed me how to make her versions of not only Jin Deui, but also Xôi bap and chè xôi nuoc. (More on the other two desserts on another post.)
Note that a lot of this is approximation. Grand aunt is more of a weighing (commercial batch) kind of gal and I’m an amateur and more of a measuring cup (small batch). So, I did my best to provide weight vs. cups for volume. Also if someone could help me out here, there’s a word in Cantonese I have no idea how to translate into English = ‘sook’. In my mind, it just means that it means spoiling, so I will use “spoiling” whenever Grand Aunt mentioned it. And, by the way, this is ALL from scratch! No shorts cuts here.
- 2 bags Mung Bean soaked 9 to 12 hours (Do not soak more because it affects the texture when cooking) and rinsed clean
- 5-6 lbs (This amount is a little fuzzy) Glutinous Rice, soaked for 12-14 hours, rinsed every 5 hours to prevent it from spoiling
- 4 lb bag of granulated white sugar
- Water (Grand Aunt emphasized to never use warm or hot water!)
Deep fryer or in my Grand Aunt’s case, a wok big enough to fit a toddler
Lots of pans and strainers
Making the simple syrup:
1. Syrup: White sugar 5 cups = 2 .5 lbs, 2.5 cups water, high heat – stir until dissolved. Do not boil! Take off heat and allow to cool.
How to prepare mung bean:
1. Pile mung bean into steaming tray with open area in the middle to allow for steam to circulate
2. Bring water to rolling boil. Steam mung bean starting on high heat but we turned it down to medium high (level 6) – don’t want too much moisture lost. Approximately 45 minutes.
3. Mash in wok on low heat with 3 cups sugar (Actually ended up using 1.25 lbs sugar). Make sure you don’t burn it. Allow to cool. Tip from Grand Aunt: Less likely to burn if sugar is in it, so it is okay to have heat a little higher once sugar is in.
4. Knead and form into balls. (Makes approx 115)
How to prepare dough (3 mix process)
1. Blend glutinous rice with water until completely smooth and you feel no grains! About 10 minutes but may be more or less time depending on the horsepower of your blender.
2. Pour blended glutinous rice into a cheese cloth or similar bag
3a. [For dry mix] Put heavy object on blended rice (example 5 gallon water jug), dry overnight or more (best during warm weather when it can dry fast like May or June). If more time is needed to dry it, check often so it doesn’t go bad. (Grand Aunt already had this pre-made for me and she has this kept around year round. My curiosity wonders if I can just use pre-packaged glutinous rice flour for this one. Don’t tell Grand Aunt because she impressed on me how making from scratch is BETTER.)
3b. [For wet mix] Put heavy object on blended rice (example 5 gallon water jug), press 6 hours (??). Ends up weighing approximately 7.5 lbs. The dough is damp.
3c. [For cooked mix] Make small 2 Pancakes from the wet dough by adding a little water to the wet dough and kneading. Simmer in water until floating about 10 minutes? – allow to cool (1 pancake for 50 count)
4a. Dump out wet mix and un-crumble
4b. Add in 5 cups completely dry and mix together and crumble all lumps (about 16 cups of this wet/dry mix makes 100 jin deui)
Dough combining wet/dry/cooked:
1. Cut cooked pancakes into small chunks (I think the smaller the better) into mix, pour 1/2 of simple syrup and knead and continue adding syrup until nice thick dough. Knead until not powdery, springy and bouncy. Put your back into it.
Filling the balls:
1. Sprinkle sesame seeds into pan
2. Roll and cut dough
3. Fill dough chunks with mung bean balls and roll into pan with sesame seeds. Tip: Take your lump of dough and rough to round ball first, gently smash a with palm of hand. Grand aunt also recommends making the edges thinner than the center so that it doesn’t get too thick when you seal it.
4. When Grand Aunt reaches a certain count in her pan, she proceeds to spray the balls with xiao shing rice wine to make the sesame seeds stick better. Give the pan a roll and coat them balls!
Fry them balls:
11. Deep fry (oil temperature was about 280 degrees when I put my thermometer in.) – Start by gently loosening balls from botton of wok with chopsticks preventing from sticking to wok and then proceed to continuously push/stir with chinese sieve for even cooking. Grand Aunt emphasized that the oil should not be too hot because the balls will stick to the bottom of the wok and burn easily.
Here is the finished gorgeous product:
… and this is how my family prefers to eat it – squished! For optimal surface to filling ratio…