Black sesame dumplings

15 August 2011
by Phuoc

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

Ginger syrup

750mL 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

  1. 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.
  2. Mix flour with water in a large bowl until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands.
  3. Divide into about 30 balls on a large tray.
  4. Make an indent in the ball and place a small amount of black sesame paste into the middle of the ball.
  5. 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

  1. Bring water to the boil in a medium saucepan, add ginger and pandanus leaves and boil gently for 15 minutes.
  2. Add sugar and boil for 5 minutes. Simmer for 10 minutes or until mixture is reduced by one quarter.


  1. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil, add dumplings and cook until they float to the top.
  2. Transfer dumplings into a bowl and ladle spoonfuls of ginger syrup into the bowl.
  3. Serve immediately.

Print this recipe


  1. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Wow that sounds amazing! I’ve never had anything like it before, clearly I am missing out on something good.

  2. Lil

    I wasn’t aware that these were traditionally made with mung bean paste!! I’ve always thought of them as a HK/Taiwanese snack and my favourite fillings are sesame and peanut! Not a huge fan of red bean filling…and not sure if I’ve even tried mung bean!! I should try and get my hands on some!

  3. Jacq

    I’ve always loved eating these but never really thought to make them myself! I always buy them frozen from Asian supermarkets but I’m sure the home made version tastes much better. Definitely need to try making these at home soon!

  4. Julia @ Mélanger

    I remember that recipe he made, too. Got me thinking about glutinous rice flour again in fact. I definitely want to try this one day. Looks delicious.

  5. john@heneedsfood

    I love these things! A bit fiddly to construct but just sooo delicious

  6. mademoiselle délicieuse

    My mum makes these very occasionally, only because you tend to end up with a massive batch afterwards! The last time we had heaps was the night before I got married (Chinese tradition), surrounded by the significant females of my life.

    I like the black sesame-filled ones and peanut ones…red bean is ok too, but not so much the plain ones =p

  7. billy @ A Table For Two

    Love this stuff with a sweet gingery sugar syrup. I always associate this dish with pregnant lady, dont know why. LOL

  8. Gastronomous Anonymous

    wow – i love these things! you made it sound soooo easy to make! no doubt i would stuff it up but will definitely give it ago. YUM!!!!!

  9. muppy

    They look delicious, would love to try them.

  10. FFichiban

    Mmmmmm love black sesame glutinous rice balls! Home made ones must be extra tasty!

  11. Vivian - vxdollface

    ooh I don’t really like it with the traditional mung bean filling so mum makes them with black sesame! Or occasionally she’ll fill it with peanut butter or nutella 😀

  12. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets

    YUM! One of my fav childhood treats and love it still. I made a version that also included a grilled skewer option a while back.

  13. Peter G @ Souvlaki For The Soul

    These look so more-ish Phuoc. Love the black sesame filling!

  14. nic@diningwithastud

    I am obsessed with anything sesame – these look delicious! Love the glossy outside and nutty filling 🙂 I could quite happily devour all of these

  15. sara @ Belly Rumbles

    I love black sesame. even more so in dumpling form. Big fan of ginger too, so this is a win win recipe for me. I remember the master class with Alvin and though yum at the time. They look great.

  16. Phuoc

    Sylvie: It’s all about the textures and flavours with this dumpling. If you’ve had mochi before it’s similar, I just love the ginger syrup that it’s served with, it rounds up the entire dish and makes it somewhat cleansing, in my opinion..

    Lil: I know the Chinese version, Tangyuan, doesn’t have mung bean and the most common filling is the black sesame, but I’m pretty sure the Vietnamese version traditionally is with mung bean. That’s the beauty of Asian cuisine, you have cross overs with some dishes, each which have slight differences and similarities; this is just an example of one of those dishes.

    Jacq: They are too easy to make, I just make a large batch and then freeze most of them to have at a later time.

    Julia: Glutinous rice flour is most certainly interesting, I love how it gives these dumplings a chewy texture that isn’t like anything else (well besides mochi). I hope you get to try it out one day 🙂

    John: Oh I know what you mean! I broke some as I was shaping them (nooo!). But they are well worth the effort 🙂

    Mademoiselle délicieuse: I guess I liked the plain ones because I didn’t like the mung bean ones too much, they were plain and not so sweet. I wish I had the black sesame ones when I was growing up; so much yummier (if that’s even a word)!

    Billy: I always associate it with weddings and CNY; I found out that this was suppose to signify “family togetherness”, maybe that might explain the pregnant woman association?

    Gastronomous Anonymous: It is pretty easy to make so I don’t see where you can go wrong, trust me, give it a go 🙂

    Muppy: They are pretty easy to make and definitely delicious too. I hope you get to try them out some day 🙂

    FFichiban: Like everything homemade, it just tastes so much better!

    Vivian: Yeah I don’t really like the mung bean ones too, would prefer the sesame filling any day! But PB or nutella..? That’s crazy! 🙂

    Xiaolu: Wow! Grilled skewer option, I’d would love to see that!

    Peter: Yes they are definitely moreish, I just love the textures of everything and the ginger syrup.

    Nic: I love sesame too. I love its nutty aroma and taste, and they are so good in these dumplings.

    Sara: Haha.. Definitely win win for you then. I’m not a big ginger fan but love the ginger syrup in this, it just completes the dish, you can have the dumplings on its own but it’s not the same… I hope you get to make it one day 🙂

  17. Bex

    One would think they are eggs they look so PERFECT:)

  18. JasmyneTea

    I’m SO intrigued. I’ve only ever had black sesame in a dessert at Chef’s Gallery, so I’d love to try making these. Yours looks marvelous!

  19. Bianca

    Yum yum yum, love anything with black sesame and sounds so good with ginger syrup

  20. Jenny

    wow I love these, I’ve only had frozen ones, peanut dumplings are just as good as well 😀 hoping to give these a shot for my mum who loooooves them!

  21. Phuoc

    Bex: You know, you could actually make them look like eggs by having a yellow filling such as mung bean or a custard mmmmm….

    JasmyneTea: Thanks! Have you tried or do you like mochi? It’s quite similar to that. I hope you get adventurous and try them out

    Bianca: Oh me too! Love it so much

    Jenny: Oh that’s sweet of you, hope she enjoys them. Good luck! 🙂

  22. Bex Kitchen

    Thank you for stopping by my kitchen! Went to reply and deleted post!!!

  23. Phuoc

    Bex: Not a problem!

  24. Pauline @thelipstickcafe

    I’m amazed at how simple the recipe reads! Desserts aren’t my strong suit, but seeing the various ones, including yours, on this month’s Delicious Vietnam round-up has given me some courage to try them out. Looking forward to reading more of your blog and Sydney adventures!

  25. Lisa

    I was just perusing through your recipes, and I have to say, I am in heaven..been bookmarking like crazy 🙂 I always loved the name of your blog, and smile whenever I see it, but your blog really is Phuoc’n Delicious! After I try these, I can’t wait to dig into the Che Bap!

  26. Helen (grabyourfork)

    omg this is one of my favourite desserts ever! I also love black sesame buns – must try and make a batch of each soon!

  27. Phuoc

    Pauline: Yes, the recipe is quite simple and I’m sure you shouldn’t have too much trouble with making these. I hope you have a go at attempting them, they are good!

    Lisa: Awww thanks! 🙂 Such kind and sweet words.

    Helen: You should make a large batch to freeze down so then you’ll be able to call upon your supply easily when you have cravings for these dumplings

  28. Sarah (Brasserie Bread)

    My mouth is watering!! I love these so much. And the ones with peanut filling too mmmmh…

  29. Phuoc

    Sarah: I haven’t tried the peanut one yet, but it sounds interesting.

  30. henry

    ive always wanted to know how to make these little bad boys. i couldve googled it but never knew the name for them…. i usually just point to it in the menu.

    awesome will try making them soon!

    (and as sarah above said, the peanut ones are awesome)

  31. Phuoc

    Henry: I feel the same way about certain dishes I remember having when I was younger and wanting to make now but just don’t know the name for them… Good luck! 🙂

  32. muppy

    I made them in Alvins class at Masterchef Live. Loved them, it was heaps of fun. Definitely will recreate them at home.

  33. Phuoc

    Muppy: That’s good to hear! Well enjoy, they are freezable so make a batch so you always have some on hand when the cravings hit 🙂

  34. Veronica

    Hi, I’ve always enjoyed these dumplings and have been meaning to have a go at making them at home. I have black sesame powder though, rather than black sesame itself. Is there some way I can alter the recipe to use that ingredient instead? Thank you!

  35. Phuoc

    Veronica: You can definitely use powdered sesame for this recipe, I’d suggest start with 1/4 cups, you could always make more if needed. Hope that helps!


    Admiring the hard work you put into your blog and in depth information you offer.

    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same old rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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