Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vegan Mofo #19 - Donna’s Sesame Balls filled with Red Bean Paste (Jin deui)...

Vegan Mofo #19 - Donna’s Sesame Balls filled with Red Bean Paste (Jin deui)

The Region - China
The Book - The Chinese Vegan Kitchen
The Author - Donna Klein
The Recipe - Sesame Balls filled with Red Bean Paste
Page # 188 Red Bean Past is on Page 182
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - About - 1 hour to make the paste from scratch but this can be made up to a week in advance. About 30-40 minutes to make the balls once the paste is made, it depends on how fast you work and how good you are with dough.

So from Europe we move back to China with one of my all time favorite dessert/sweet’s in the known universe. Sesame Balls filled with Red Bean Paste. I think I’ve mentioned my love affair with red bean past before, but incase I haven’t - this stuff is to die for! I go crazy for it, if I ever see it in anything on a menu I immediately order it. I grew up eating red bean paste filled sesame balls, and red bean paste stuffed buns in Vancouver’s Chinatown. I love red bean paste filled mochi, I love red bean paste in ice cream, you name a use for red bean paste and you can be sure that I love it. So the minute I got Donna Klein’s wonderful book The Chinese Vegan Kitchen and saw this recipe I knew I’d have to make it.

Sesame Balls or Jin deui as they’re known in China can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty, where they were originally a palace food.  Though with the southward migration of people from Central China they became a popular part of Southern Chinese cooking. Recipes for Jin deui abound, and each different region has their own variation that may bare a name that differs from Jin deui. The most common filling seems to be lotus seed paste, though they are also often filled with sweet black bean paste, and red bean paste. The red bean past of course being my utmost favorite. Apparently Sesame Balls are one of the most popular pastries found in Hong Kong, and are commonly found in Chinatown markets and bakeshops overseas. Everything about them is great!

Of course it’s a recipe that requires some work. You could use canned red bean paste if you wanted but honestly it’s best to make your own. Nothing’s going to taste as good as making your own paste, and you can freeze it if you have leftover to use in some other concoction. Despite my reservations about working with dough the sesame ball dough is actually really easy to work with and doesn’t crumble or fall apart or tear like other dough’s might. Maybe this is due to the sticky sweet potato used in the dough recipe, or maybe it’s the glutenous rice flour, whatever it is, I found that this dough was one of the easiest I’ve ever had to work with. It’s a simple mix of glutenous rice flour, sweet potato, all purpose flour, sugar and water. The red bean paste is equally as easy made with adzuki beans, sugar, water, salt, and peanut oil.

Frying the sesame balls was a bit more of a challenge for me. I’ll be honest, and say I hate frying things, really. I can never control the temperature properly. My oven burners get really hot, and my cast iron conducts so well that even after the pan is hot and I turn the burner on medium-low stuff still burns. Trying to get the sesame balls to brown evenly was no easy task for me, and there were a few burnt spots but overall I think they turned out really well, and even where there was a bit of burning the flavor was still really good. I know I’ll definitely make these again now that I know how easy it is but I think maybe next time I’ll save myself some trouble and deep fry them instead.

Once cooked the balls are ready to serve right away, you can dust them with a bit of powdered sugar as I did for the photo or eat them plain. I like them plain, but they do look pretty with a light dusting of sugar. If you have never had red bean paste filled sesame balls you need to try them now!

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