This recipe for Chinese Fried Sesame Balls (Jian Dui) features a puffed up chewy, crunchy, crisp dough ball made from glutinous rice flour, fried until golden and studded with sesame seeds. It's enjoyed during Chinese New Year as a sign of prosperity.
What are Chinese sesame balls?
Chinese sesame balls are known as 煎䭔 (jian dui).
As they are fried, the dough puffs up like a balloon and become crisp, crunchy, light and chewy all at the same time.
Traditionally, they are snacks eaten during the Lunar New Year for good luck and prosperity.
The sesame balls can be unfilled or filled with sweet red bean paste or lotus paste.
You can find Chinese fried sesame balls served as breakfast at dim sum restaurants.
What do they taste like?
The Chinese sesame balls are crisp and crunchy on the exterior with a chewy interior.
They taste slightly sweet and nutty from the sesame seeds.
Why this recipe works
This recipe makes a small batch of 8 fried sesame balls.
There's no need to boil a portion of flour to make the dough.
Nor is there any baking powder in the ingredients.
This recipe is streamlined, with no need to dip the dough balls into water for the sesame seeds to stick.
The sesame balls are naturally vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free.
Ingredients you'll need
- glutinous rice flour: is different than rice flour; glutinous rice flour is made from short-grained glutinous rice, also known as sweet rice flour and has a chewy, mochi-like texture
- granulated sugar: adds a little sweetness to the dough
- coconut oil: melted; or vegetable oil
- white sesame seeds: for coating the dough balls; you can use roasted or raw sesame seeds; or black sesame seeds
- peanut oil: for frying, or any high-smoke point oil
You can find these ingredients at Asian grocery stores or supermarkets.
You can add 5-10g of red bean paste, sweet black bean paste or lotus paste filling inside the dough.
Note: adding filling may prevent the dough from expanding into a larger ball.
How to make them
Add sugar and water to a bowl to make a syrup. Stir to dissolve.
Add glutinous rice flour.
Add coconut oil and knead with your hands to form a smooth dough.
Cover dough with cling wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Divide dough into 8 equal portions and roll into balls (Step 1 below).
Place sesame seeds into a small bowl.
Place the dough ball into the bowl with sesame seeds, cover with a 2nd bowl and tightly grip while vigorously swirling to coat the dough ball.
Roll the dough ball between your palms to secure the sesame seeds (Step 2 below).
Add frying oil to a pot or small saucepan.
Place thermometer int the oil to check the temperature.
When the hot oil reaches 120C, add in the dough balls and let them sit for 30-40 seconds, then gently stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom (Step 3 below).
They should sit in oil (120C) for about 10 minutes, at a low temp so the balls will expand larger.
After 5 minutes, they should float (see Step 4 below).
Once the balls float, begin pressing, squishing them (Step 5 below).
Increase the heat and continue pressing the dough balls until they don't bounce back to a round shape.
Then stop pressing and fry until golden brown (Step 6 below). At oil temp 190-200C, the exterior shell will be crisp.
Check by tapping on the ball to see if it's crisp.
Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
How to store & reheat
It's best to enjoy the fried sesame balls on the same day they are made.
If you have leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container at room temperature for 1-2 days.
You can also freeze the jian dui sesame balls in a freezer-safe airtight container for up to 1 month.
To reheat, place the sesame balls onto a baking sheet and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes, until the exterior is crisp and warm.
Expert tips & FAQs
Tip: Depending on the size of your pot, you may need to fry in batches.
Do the fried sesame balls contain gluten?
No, technically they are gluten-free as glutinous rice flour does not contain wheat gluten.
Can I make them in advance?
Sesame balls are best enjoyed on the same day they are made.
You can make the dough balls ahead of time.
If frying ahead of time, warm them up in the oven prior to serving.
Why are the sesame balls squished during frying?
The squishing helps the dough expand larger in size, as it heats up.
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Chinese Fried Sesame Balls (Jian Dui)
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 113 g glutinous rice flour
- 35 g granulated sugar
- 83 ml water
- ½ teaspoon coconut oil melted, or vegetable oil
- 25 g sesame seeds white or black
- 3 C peanut oil or any high-smoke point oil
For visual key process photos, refer to the body of the post.
Make the sesame ball dough:
- Add sugar and water to a bowl to make a syrup. Stir to dissolve.
- Add glutinous rice flour.
- Add coconut oil and knead with your hands to form a smooth dough.
- Cover dough with cling wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Divide dough into 8 equal portions and roll into balls.
- Place sesame seeds into a small bowl.
- Place the dough ball into the bowl with sesame seeds, cover with a 2nd bowl and tightly grip while vigorously shaking to coat the dough ball.
- Roll the dough ball between your palms to secure the sesame seeds.
- Frying the sesame balls:
- Add frying oil to a pot or small saucepan.
- Place thermometer in the oil to check the temperature.
- When the hot oil reaches 120°C, add in the dough balls and let them sit for 30-40 seconds, then gently stir to prevent them from sticking to the bottom.
- They should sit in oil (120°C) for about 10 minutes, at a low temp so the dough balls will expand larger.
- After 5 minutes, they should float. Once the balls float, begin pressing on the balls, squishing them so they expand.
- Increase the heat and continue pressing the dough balls until they don't bounce back to their round shape.
- Stop pressing on the dough and fry until golden brown. At oil temp 190°-200°C, the exterior shell will be crisp.
- Check by tapping on the ball to see if it's crisp.
- Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Serve immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.