Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste Filling
Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Fried Sesame Balls with Lotus Paste Filling

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 13 hr 30 min (includes chilling times and overnight soaking)
  • Active: 1 hr 40 min
  • Yield: 8 sesame balls
With a crispy, fried exterior, soft, chewy dough and sweet filling, the fried sesame balls called zin deoi in Cantonese (also spelled “jin deui” and “zeen doy”) are a staple in dim sum restaurants and some Chinese bakeries. The mochi-like dough gets its texture from glutinous rice flour, while adding wheat starch makes it easier to work with and prevents the dough balls from breaking as they expand. You can find fried sesame balls filled with red bean paste, which is traditional, or with peanut butter or chocolate hazelnut spread, which are less so. We filled ours with a traditional lotus paste, made from dried lotus seeds that are soaked and sweetened. The lotus paste has a subtle chestnut and almond flavor that pairs especially well with the coating of nutty sesame seeds on the fried dough.


Lotus Paste:


Coating and Frying:


Special equipment:
a deep-fry thermometer
  1. For the lotus paste: Rinse the lotus seeds in a medium bowl under cold water, then cover with 3 to 4 cups cold water. Soak at room temperature overnight. Drain. Split each seed if whole, then remove and discard any green core, which will be bitter. Discard any dark lotus seeds.
  2. Combine the lotus seeds with 4 cups cold water in a medium saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cook, partially covered, until the seeds are soft and easily break apart, about 1 hour, adding more water if the level falls below the seeds. Drain.
  3. Transfer the lotus seeds to a food processor. Add the warm water and process on high speed, stopping to scrape down the sides occasionally, until very smooth, about 1 minute. Pass through a mesh-strainer into another medium bowl, pressing on the solids. Scrape the bottom of the strainer and discard the solids (see Cook’s Note).
  4. Combine the lotus puree, confectioners’ sugar and a small pinch of salt in a medium nonstick saute pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a flat-edge wooden spoon or firm rubber spatula, until the paste has thickened and slowly comes back together when you run a spatula across the bottom of the saute pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the oil 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly after each addition, until incorporated. Add the corn syrup and stir until smooth. Spread the lotus paste evenly in a shallow bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes, then refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours (see Cook’s Note).
  5. For the dough: Meanwhile, stir the wheat starch and boiling water in a medium heatproof bowl until a dough forms. Knead for 30 seconds until all the starch is hydrated. Cover with a plate and set aside until needed.
  6. Stir the glutinous rice flour, granulated sugar and lard in a large bowl. Add 1/3 cup cold water and stir with a spoon until a dough forms. Scrape off all the dough from the spoon and knead by hand until the flour is moistened, about 1 minute.
  7. Tear off small (pea-size) pieces of the wheat starch dough. Scatter over the glutinous rice dough and knead in until completely smooth. If the dough feels dry or cracks, knead in 1 tablespoon cold water at a time until the dough stops cracking. Knead for another 30 seconds, transfer the dough to a resealable bag and refrigerate for 1 hour to hydrate the flour.
  8. Divide the lotus paste into 8 portions (about 30 g each) and roll each into a ball. Transfer to a plate and refrigerate, covered, until ready to fill the dough balls.
  9. Remove the dough from the bag and knead until pliable. If it feels dry and cracks, knead in 1 tablespoon cold water at a time until smooth. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, roll each into a ball and cover with an inverted bowl to prevent it from drying.
  10. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, roll into a 4-inch round using a small rolling pin. Place it on your palm and thin out 1/2 inch of the edge all around using the tips of your index finger and thumb. Place a ball of lotus paste in the center, wrap the dough around it, then pinch the dough together and gently press it together to form a ball. Roll in between your palms until the seams disappear and a smooth ball forms. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining balls of dough and lotus paste.
  11. For the coating: Pour the sesame seeds onto a fine-mesh strainer, run under cold water to moisten, then drain and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Roll each ball in the sesame seeds until completely coated.
  12. For frying: Fill a large wok or deep Dutch oven two-thirds of the way with the neutral oil. Heat over medium-low heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 325 degrees F. Carefully add all the sesame balls and immediately start moving them along the bottom of the wok with a slotted spoon and spoon. Keep the sesame balls constantly moving to obtain the perfect round shape and fry, without letting the oil exceed 300 degrees F, until the balls expand a bit, the exterior is crisp and becomes light golden, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and continue frying, stirring constantly, without letting the oil exceed 325 degrees F, until the sesame balls are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. During this time, submerge the sesame balls in the hot oil and push each ball in between the two spoons to color evenly and maintain the ball shape.
  13. Drain the sesame balls on a paper towel-lined plate. Let cool for 10 minutes. Cut each in half with kitchen shears, just like how they are served at dim sum restaurants, and enjoy them while they’re still hot.

Cook’s Note

If you can find dried lotus seeds that are already halved, you can skip the step of halving them and removing the green cores. You can skip passing the lotus paste through a strainer if you prefer it with a bit of texture. The lotus paste can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.