Dim Sum - Red Bean Sesame Balls

These sesame balls are something I had growing up. They would frequently be in Chinese bakeries or would appear in the dessert cart during dim sum. It was easy to tell whether the sesame balls were fresh or stale - the fresh ones were soft and chewy, but also crispy on the outside, while the stale ones were hard to bite and the centers were somewhat dried out. Still, I ate them nonetheless because they were so good.

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For those who have never tried these sesame balls, it's definitely a unique texture. The filling is a red bean paste, which is as you might expect sweetened mashed beans to be, but the outside dough is the unique bit.

The dough is made from glutinous rice flour, so the texture is actually chewy and a little gummy. But because it's been dipped in sesame and then fried, there is also a crispy element to it. It's a dessert you can devour as it is not too sweet and has all the right textural components.

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Many recipes actually put sugar in the dough. The helps with the flavor and also for it to brown to a deeper color when frying. I find that the red bean paste is sweet enough for the entire dessert, and usually I can get it to a pretty good golden brown color even without the sugar, so I just don't add it.

Tip(s): When frying, these sesame balls initially sink to the bottom, so it can burn. Use a wire skimmer to lower the balls down, so that it does not touch the bottom of the pan. Once the outer coating begins to cook, remove the skimmer, but move the sesame balls around often to keep it from sinking to the bottom.

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Red Bean Sesame Balls

(Makes 6)

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 cups glutinous rice flour
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup canned red bean paste
  • oil for frying


  1. Divide red bean paste into 6 quarter-sized balls. Place into freezer for an hour.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the glutinous rice flour with the rice flour. Add in the boiling water and mix until a dough forms. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Divide the dough into 6 balls. Flatten with hand into 4-inch diameter circles. Place red bean filling into the center of the circle and wrap dough around the red bean paste. Roll ball in palm of hands until seams are sealed and have disappeared.
  4. Dip balls into a plate of sesame. Press dough into the sesame so that it sticks.
  5. Fill a pot with about 4-inches of oil, making sure the oil will cover the entire sesame ball. Heat oil to 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Drop sesame balls in a few at a time. Fry until balls turn a light, golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Once the balls float, turn heat up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue frying until dark, golden brown, about another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Place sesame balls on a paper towel to let the oil drain.
  8. Rest for 15 minutes before serving. Sesame balls can hold for up to 2 days.

Copyright © 2021 - Christina Ng