Grandma Wong's Traditional Chinese Sesame Doughnut Recipe
We can understand how this traditional and classic Chinese dessert was good enough to take place on the palace menu all the way back in the Tang Dynasty. As regal as its history bears, this oh so popular dessert is considered auspicious because of its round and golden colour as well as lucky because it puffs bigger and bigger which mimics a small venture swelling bigger and bigger, in turn giving you a large return.
This is a Hong Kong yum cha staple called 'jin deui' in Cantonese. It can be found in most Chinese bakeries and boasts a crunchy yet chewy texture. Traditionally it is made during Chinese New Year and can also be made for celebratory occasions. Below is our Grandma Wong's recipe which is a family favourite - we like to eat ours plain but you will find many come with a sweet filling like lotus paste or red bean paste but if you're feeling experimental, why not try a sweet filling of your own choice and start a tradition/family favourite of your own!
Want to learn how to pronounce 'jin deui' in Cantonese - listen here!
3.5 cups of glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 cup of boiling water
Pinch of baking powder
2-3 drops of vegetable oil
White sesame seeds
Peanut oil or vegetable oil (we recommend peanut oil for the best result!)
1. In a small bowl, mix the boiling water and sugar and set aside. In a separate large clean and dry bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour and baking powder (we recommend doing this with your hands). Go back to the sugar water and stir some more to dissolve the sugar completely and let it cool down to a warm-lukewarm temperature (warm enough so that you can handle with your hands).
2. Make a well in the flour mixture and pour a little of the sugar water - mix your with your hands to slowly combine and build the dough. Continue adding a small amount of sugar water and mixing through with your hands until all the sugar water is used. Knead this dough with the bottom of your palm like you would with bread dough. If there's still some dry flour not sticking together with the dough then add a little bit more of boiling water (needs to be boiling water so wait until it's cooled a little before mixing with your hands again). When the dough is all sticking together and soft, place the dough on a clean bench, add 2-3 drops of vegetable oil and knead. When it becomes a moist play dough like consistency then it's ready.
3. Separate the dough into 8 portions - each portion should fit nicely into your palm like above. Roll each portion in your palms into a ball. Sprinkle a layer of white sesame seeds onto a large plate and roll each ball over the seeds to cover the whole outer layer.
4. Pour peanut or vegetable oil into a large flat based wok (about 1/2 of the height of the wok or enough to cover the sesame balls) and heat oil over a LOW heat (do not have it high at first as you will not get a puffy doughnut!). When the heat feels warm but not hot (approx. 3-5 mins but depends on your wok), gently drop the sesame balls in one at a time - max 4 at a time to fry. The oil should be gently bubbling and still on a low heat - not spitting and going crazy. See below video to show you the gentle simmering heat.
5. After a couple minutes turn them over and keep turning every now and then to avoid them burning on the bottom side. Then after a couple minutes, using a ladle (a Chinese style one with holes is best) and long wooden chopsticks, press down on each doughnut a couple times - hold for a couple seconds and let go - this helps the doughnut to expand and cook evenly through the oil.
6. Then turn the heat up (med-high), turn the balls over and press down like before - repeat this a few times to help the balls puff up. Continue doing this until the doughnuts float and become a beautiful golden colour. Transfer to a plate with a paper towel on it and fry the rest of the batch. See below's video to see what we mean about the golden colour.
Best scoffed down once they're cool enough - see if you can stop at one. Enjoy!
Makes about 8 doughnut balls.
TOP TIP - keep the oil and reuse it to cook with - it'll bring out a great depth of flavour to your dishes and nothing will go to waste!