Sesame Seed Balls for the Lunar New Year

These Sesame Seed Balls, also called Jin Dui, are a delicious Chinese dessert that are especially popular during new year celebrations. With the Lunar New Year approaching, we decided to make our own sesame seed balls to celebrate.

Crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, filled with a sweet red bean paste, these treats are hard to resist – at any time of the year!

Sesame Seed Balls with Red Bean Paste

What you need:
For the red bean paste

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL/4 oz) dried adzuki beans, soaked (also known as azuki, aduki, or red beans)*
  • 1 1/2 cups (325 mL) water
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) Redpath Granulated Sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) canola or vegatable oil

*Adzuki beans are available at most bulk stores, but if you can’t find any, you can use kidney beans instead.

For the dough

  • 3 cups (750 mL) glutinous rice flour
  • 1 – 1 1/3 cups (250 – 325 mL) boiling water
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) Redpath Golden Yellow Sugar
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sweet red bean paste
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) sesame seeds (or as needed)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

How to prepare:
For sweet red bean paste
1. Soak adzuki beans over night, or for at least 6 hours. Drain beans, rinse, and place in a medium sized pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft, 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the heat, drain, and let cool.

2. Transfer cooked beans to a food processor and process until smooth. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a pasty cutter or a large fork to mash the beans until as smooth as possible.

3. Stir the sugar and oil into the pureed beans, then transfer to a medium sized pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture forms a thick, sweet paste, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

For the dough
1. Dissolve the sugar in 1 cup (250 mL) of the boiling water.

2. Place the rice flour in a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour the water and sugar mixture into the well, stirring until a sticky, caramel coloured dough is formed. If the dough seems dry, add as much of the remaining 1/3 cup (75 mL) of boiling water as you need to make the dough. Cover the dough with a damp towel or plastic wrap.

To assemble
1. In a deep-sided heavy saucepan or deep-fryer, heat the oil to 350°F (175°C).

2. Spread out the sesame seeds on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. Pinch off a small piece of the dough (about the size of a walnut) and form into a bowl shape. Fill with about 1/2 – 1 tsp (2 – 5 mL) of the red bean paste. Pinch the dough closed with your fingers and form into a ball shape. Repeat this step until all of the remaining dough has been used up.

4. Roll each ball in the sesame seeds to coat, and set aside. Any leftover red bean paste may be stored in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to one week.

5. When all your sesame balls are ready to be cooked, add them to the pot or deep-fryer and cook until a rich golden brown, about 2 – 3 minutes. Use tongs to carefully turn the sesame balls while cooking to ensure they cook evenly.

6. Place cooked sesame balls on paper towels to drain excess oil. Serve warm. They will taste the day they are made, but if you have any leftovers, warm them up in the oven before serving.