I first saw this recipe on Master Chef made by Alvin when he came back for a guest appearance in one of the masterclasses. The version he made for the show was served with fried wonton wafers dipped in a gula melaka (a type of palm sugar) and coated with toasted sesame seeds.
Traditionally, these are made with a mung bean filling and I would only remember having them either at Chinese New Year or weddings (there will be white and pink balls, either big or small, some with filling and some without – I always liked the ones without the filling). In Northern Vietnam, this dish is called bánh trôi or bánh chay but in Southern Vietnam, it’s called chè xôi nước; don’t ask me why the same dish has two different names, it just is and there are alot of words that the north and south Vietnamese people have different words for.
Served with a ginger syrup, these dumplings are soft and on the chewy side and filled with a sweet black sesame paste. As you eat it, you have to try get a bit of everything in each mouthful. And so you know, it is possible to make these dumplings in advance and freeze for them later.
This is my entry to the Delicious Vietnam August 2011 blogging event, founded by A Food Lover’s Journey and Ravenous Couple and hosted by Chi Anh from Door to my kitchen. This monthly blogging event celebrates Vietnamese cuisine by Vietnamese food lovers around the world.
Recipe from Alvin Quah
Makes ~30 dumplings
1/4 cup black sesame seeds, toasted
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (50g) butter
250g glutinous rice flour
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
5cm piece old ginger, skin peeled, lightly pounded flat
1 pandanus leaf, tied into a knot (if you can’t find it, feel free to omit it from the recipe)
For the dumplings
- Add sesame seeds to a mini food processor or mortar and pestle and process until fine. Transfer to a fry pan with sugar and butter over medium heat and stir until mixture forms a thick paste. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until required.
- Mix flour with water in a large bowl until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands.
- Divide into about 30 balls on a large tray.
- Make an indent in the ball and place a small amount of black sesame paste into the middle of the ball.
- Fold edges to seal the paste inside the ball. Lightly roll the ball into shape using both palms very gently. Set aside.
For ginger syrup
- Bring water to the boil in a medium saucepan, add ginger and pandanus leaves and boil gently for 15 minutes.
- Add sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced by one quarter.
- Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add dumplings and cook until they float to the top.
- Transfer dumplings into a bowl and ladle spoonfuls of ginger syrup into the bowl.
- Serve immediately.