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Hollow Donuts (Banh Tieu)

Puffy, Golden Perfection--these Hollow Donuts are such a treat!

I simply adored these donuts, but because they’re deep-fried, I don’t make them very often.   So when I allow myself to indulge and make them at home, (usually for the holidays) they’re a special treat.  There’s really nothing fancy or exotic about these donuts–no crazy toppings or colorful fillings.  The recipe is simple–the slightly sweet dough is dipped in white sesame seeds and then fried until it’s puffy and golden.  The results are beautiful and so scrumptious.  I hope you enjoy the recipe for this classic Viet treat!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

If you’ve attempted these donuts in the past without success, you already know they can be a bit tricky to make.  There’s quite a bit of technique involved with making the dough and then frying the donuts to get them puffy with the hollow center.  I share lots of tips in the video but will mention them here again.

The consistency of the dough should be slightly tacky but not wet and sticky.  You should be able to work the dough in your hands without it sticking to your fingers.  In the recipe below, I added an additional 2 Tbsp self-rising flour to get the dough just right.

The dough dries out quickly so keep the balls covered with the plastic wrap until you’re ready to roll them.

Use plenty of vegetable oil for deep-frying.  (This helps to make the donuts nice and puffy.)  The oil should be 1 1/2 to 2-inches high in the pot you’re using.  Use a smaller pot so you don’t have to use so much oil.  In the video, I use a 3 quart non-stick pot with 6 cups of canola oil.

The oil temperature is very important.  Ideally it should be 360 degrees Fahrenheit.  A temperature range of 355-370 degrees Fahrenheit is just fine.  Use a thermometer to check the temperature and adjust as needed.  If you have an electric fryer, it will make the task that much easier.  On my stove, I set the heat to Low and make minor adjustments as I am frying to maintain the right temperature range.

There’s definitely a technique to frying these donuts so they puff up.  Be sure to flip them constantly once they float to the top.  If you’re slow with flipping, your donuts will be lopsided.  Also be careful when flipping them as you don’t want to puncture them with your chopsticks.

Fry the donuts one at a time.  It doesn’t take long but you’ll have better results as too many donuts frying at the same time are difficult to time and affect the oil temperature.

If your donuts are not puffing up in the center, don’t despair.  Here’s a really easy trick:  Dip a pastry brush in water and then blot the excess on a towel.  Lightly moisten both sides of the dough.  Deep-fry as directed and they should be nice and puffy.  Be careful not to add a lot of water as this will cause the oil to pop and splatter.

This recipe works great with a bread machine.  Add all of the ingredients and then use the Dough setting.  The bread machine will mix for half an hour and then rest for 1 hour.  During the mixing process, scrape the sides of the bowl and make sure all the dry ingredients get incorporated.

Can’t find self-rising flour?  You can make your own as follows:  Add 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder +  1 1/2 tsp salt to a measuring cup.  Fill the rest of the cup with all-purpose flour and level.  Pour into a separate bowl.  Measure out 2 more cups of all-purpose flour and add to the bowl.  Combine everything together.  You now have 3 cups of self-rising flour.

If you want to weigh the dough, the balls are approximately 2 oz each.  The donut will be approximately 5-inches in diameter and approximately 1/4-inch thick once rolled.  The recipe yields approximately 12 donuts.

Store any leftovers in a re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate.  To reheat, place in a toaster oven and warm for 5 minutes or microwave on High for 15-20 seconds.  The donuts can also be frozen and enjoyed later.  Place in a plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, seal and then freeze.  To reheat (there’s no need to defrost), simply wrap the donuts in foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes or until they’re nice and hot.  Remove the foil and bake for another 2-3 minutes if you’d like them to be a bit crispy.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Sesame Balls (Banh Cam) and Steamed Rice Cakes/Cow Cakes/Steamed Honeycomb Cakes (Banh Bo Hap).


3 cups self-rising flour + 2 Tbsp (adjust as needed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet vanilla sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
vegetable oil for deep-frying
2 Tbsp self-rising flour for rolling


Add the self-rising flour, sugar, vanilla sugar and baking powder into the stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  Mix on Low speed for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in the milk and continue mixing on Low speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl using a spatula to work in the dry ingredients.

Increase the mixer speed to Medium and mix for 5 minutes.  Check the dough and if it’s too sticky, add 1 Tbsp of flour and then mix for 1 minute.  (Repeat and add more flour if necessary.)  The dough should be soft, moist and slightly tacky but not sticky.  Dust your hands with flour.  Gently work the dough in your hands for about 1 minute smoothing it out and patting it into a ball.  Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Place the bowl into the oven and let the dough rest inside the oven with the light on for 1 hour.

Lightly flour the work surface and then scoop out the dough.  Gently knead the dough for about 1 minute.  Roll the dough into a log.  Cut the dough in half and then cut each half into 6 equal pieces.  Shape each section of dough into a ball.  Place all the balls onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper.  Cover the tray with plastic wrap and then let rest in the oven for another 15 minutes.

Flour the work surface and rolling pin.  Take a ball of dough and press both sides into the sesame seeds.  Lightly flour each side as well.  Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a flat circle approximately 5-inches in diameter and a little less than 1/4-inch thick.  Set the dough aside on parchment paper.  Continue until all 12 donuts are made.

Add oil into a saucepan and make sure the oil is at least 1 1/2 to 2-inches high.  Heat the oil until it reaches 360 degrees F.  Gently place the dough into the hot oil.  Use chopsticks to move the dough around slightly so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.  In about 10 seconds the donut should float to the top.  Quickly flip the donut over, cook for 2 seconds and flip it over again.  Continue flipping the donut until the center puffs up completely.  Fry the donut for another minute, flipping every 15 seconds, until both sides are golden brown.  Remove the donut and place on paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Continue frying until all donuts are made.  Serve while they’re warm.  Enjoy!

Yields:  12 donuts

Learn the tricks for making these scrumptious Hollow Donuts.

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Egg Rolls (Cha Gio/Nem Ran)

Pork and Shrimp Egg Rolls served with a Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce | recipe from runaway

This is my Mom’s recipe and I have to say, these egg rolls are the best I’ve tasted.  (Thanks Mom!)  I like the balance of meat–pork and shrimp, and vegetables in the filling.  This recipe uses carrots which is quite common.  The taro root is a differentiating ingredient and adds a nice mealy texture to the egg rolls.  There’s no cabbage in this recipe which I find makes the filling wet and gives the egg rolls that funny (you know!) smell.

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks
  • Make sure to remove any excess water from the noodles and vegetables.  Adding 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the filling helps to absorb any excess moisture.  This helps to reduce the chance of egg rolls popping and exploding when deep frying.  (We don’t want any oil splatters or burns!)
  • Peel off a small stack, about 5-7 egg roll wrappers at a time, fold in half to form two triangles, and then using scissors cut along the folded line.  I cut the entire package first.  When rolling, I take one of the small stacks, peel off the individual wrappers and then make the egg rolls.  To keep the unrolled wrappers moist, cover with a damp paper towel.
  • When I am short on time, I make the filling the night before and then refrigerate.  The next day, I roll and fry.
  • Any leftover egg rolls can be refrigerated and then reheated in a toaster oven.  They’re just as delicious as freshly fried!
  • Strive to have the same amount of filling in each egg roll.  Also prior to rolling, evenly distribute the filling forming a small log on the wrapper.  This way you will have an even amount of meat and wrapper and they will all cook at the same time.
  • Don’t let the egg rolls sit too long before frying.  The wrapper will get moist from the filling.
  • Make sure to use enough oil to completely immerse the egg rolls when deep frying.  If you use too little oil, the egg rolls will not brown evenly.
  • I find the egg rolls cook faster when deep frying in a single layer.  Double stacking or over-filing the fryer increases the cooking time.
  • I love the taste of peanut oil!  The egg rolls brown up really nicely and quickly with this oil.
  • If you don’t have an electric fryer, deep fry the egg rolls in a saucepan or wok.  Use a thermometer to get the right temperature.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Grilled Pork Sausage Fresh Spring Rolls (Nem Nuong Cuon) and Grilled Shrimp, Egg Rolls and Rice Vermicelli (Bun Cha Gio Tom Nuong).


1 lb ground pork or country style rib pork pieces
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 lb carrots
1/4 lb yellow onions
1/2 lb taro root (fresh or frozen)
1-1.8 oz package bean thread noodles
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
1 package egg roll wrappers (25 square sheets per package)
1 Tbsp cornstarch + 1 Tbsp water
vegetable oil for deep frying


Peel skins off carrots and taro root and rinse with water.  Pat thoroughly dry with a paper towel.  If using frozen taro root, cut into smaller chunks.  Use a stand mixer with a shredder attachment to finely shred the taro root and carrots.  Alternatively, use a food processor or mandoline to achieve the fine shreds.  Finely dice the onions.

Mince the shrimp by hand or use a meat grinder attached to the stand mixer.  If using pork pieces, grind the pork using the meat attachment as well.

Soak the noodles in warm water for 10 minutes to soften.  Blot the noodles dry using a paper towel.  Using scissors, cut noodles into short strands.

In a large bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, carrots, onions, taro root, noodles, sugar, salt, ground black pepper and optionally cornstarch.  Mix all ingredients well.  (I use my hands and this takes approximately 2 minutes.)

In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and water and stir until smooth.  We will use this mixture later to seal the wrapper.

See above for tips on cutting and peeling the egg roll wrappers.  Place a single wrapper triangle on a cutting board so the point is on top and the longest side of the triangle is closest to you.  Place 1 heaping tablespoon of filling on the wrapper centering it along the bottom edge of the wrapper.  Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper over the filling.  (The two folded sides should meet in the middle of the roll.)  Take the bottom edge and fold it over and then roll gently away from you.  Use firm pressure but don’t roll too tightly or the wrapper will tear.  When there’s just a 1/2-inch triangle section of wrapper left, dip a finger in the cornstarch/water mixture and dab the top triangle with the “glue”.  Finish rolling, sealing the wrapper edge well.  Roll a batch of a dozen egg rolls and the fry per below.

Heat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in an electric fryer or saucepan.  Place the egg rolls into a fryer basket with the seam side down.  Put the basket in the oil so that it partially covers the egg rolls.  Hold the basket in place for 10 seconds.  (This seals the edges of the egg roll.)  Now release the basket into the oil completely.  Deep fry for 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown.  If you like them crispier, fry for 13-15 minutes.  Remove the egg rolls from fryer and place on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce as an appetizer.  Optionally serve with rice noodles, fish sauce dipping sauce, and fresh greens and herbs.

Tools I Love and Use in My Kitchen

Yields:  35-40 egg rolls

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Sweet Fillings for Desserts and Pastries: Mung Bean and Coconut, Pumpkin Spice (Nhan Dau Xanh, Nhan Bi Do)

Mung Bean and Pumpkin Filling Balls | recipe from runawayrice.comThis recipe is a two-parter.  In Part 1, below, I share the recipe for making a sweet mung bean and coconut filling–a more traditional recipe.  If you’re looking for a different fusion of flavors, check out my second filling recipe where I use pumpkin.  In Part 2 (to be released next week), I use these fillings to make scrumptious Sesame Balls.  The mung bean balls are familiar and delicious but my favorite is the pumpkin filling.  I love the combination of pumpkin and spice and the flavors go so well with the fried sweet dough.  It is decadent and I hope you’ll give it a try!

Notes on the Recipe, Tips and Tricks

The key to making a good filling is cooking it just right so it’s not too dry or too wet   If it’s too dry you won’t be able to roll it into a ball.  If it’s too wet, it becomes difficult to encase with a layer of dough as it will stick to your fingers and the dough.  Also keep in mind, moisture content is different when using freshly mashed mung bean versus previously frozen and thawed mung bean.  I always have to add more water to the previously frozen mung bean to get the balls to form nicely.  If you want a creamy, richer taste, you can always add more vegetable oil as I only use a minimal amount in my recipe.  The pumpkin filling has more moisture and the cooking time is longer.  Please note these balls tend to be wetter than the mung bean balls.  For the pumpkin filling, if I have the time, I’ll refrigerate overnight.  This helps to dry them out further.

Watch the video below for instructions.

If you enjoyed this recipe, you may also like: Mooncakes with Sweet Red Bean Filling (Banh Trung Thu / Banh Nuong Nhan Dau Do), Snowskin Mooncakes Part 1: Making the Syrup and Taro Root Filling (Banh Deo: Cach Nau Nuoc Duong, Lam Nhan Khoai Mon) and Salted Egg Yolks.

Mung Bean and Coconut Filling

9 oz mashed mung bean
3 Tbsp water
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut flakes


Combine water and sugar over Low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In a large skillet over Medium Low heat, add the mashed mung bean, simple syrup, oil and vanilla extract.

Mix together forming a thick paste.  Continue stirring the filling as it cooks.  After 3-4 minutes the filling dries and has the consistency of a thick dough.  Turn off the heat and add in the coconut flakes.  Combine well.

When filling is cool enough to handle, roll into even-sized balls.  (It’s easier to roll into balls when the filling is still warm.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yields:  1 dozen balls

Pumpkin Spice Filling


15 oz can pureed pumpkin
2 Tbsp water
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
pinch of ground cloves
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp vegetable oil


Combine water and brown sugar over Low heat until sugar is dissolved.

In a large skillet over Medium Low heat, add the pureed pumpkin, all spices, vanilla extract, oil and melted sugar.  Mix together.

Stirring frequently, cook the filling for 10-12 minutes or until it has the consistency of a thick dough.

When the filling is cool enough to handle, roll into even-sized balls.  (It’s easier to roll into balls when the filling is still warm.)  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.

Yields:  1 dozen balls

Mung Bean Filling Balls | recipe from

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