Making these delicious Sesame Balls (Banh Cam / Banh Ran) is an activity the whole family can enjoy. This is one of those recipes where it’s great to have helping hands. Set up an assembly line where someone rolls the balls, the kiddies can apply the sesame seeds and a grown-up deep-fries the donuts. Of course, you’ll have lots of volunteers for the eating part. The recipe makes 1 dozen good-sized sesame balls and you can double or triple the recipe as needed. Enjoy!
Notes on the Sesame Balls (Banh Cam / Banh Ran) Recipe, Tips and Tricks
Different brands of glutinous rice flour yield different results. Test the dough by stretching it slightly. If it cracks, it’s too dry, so add more water, 1 Tbsp at a time. The dough should be soft and smooth and not sticky.
Gently press the sesame seeds into the balls or they will pop off when immersed in the hot oil.
The rule for frying these balls is to have the oil level slightly higher than the height of the balls. You can use less oil if you use a smaller pan but you’ll have to fry in several batches. If you’re making a double recipe, use lots of oil and fry in a large wok or deep-fryer.
Getting the oil temperature just right is probably the trickiest part of cooking these balls to perfection. Keep in mind that once the oil reaches the desired temperature of 315 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll have to turn down the heat slightly to keep it at this temperature. If the oil is too hot, the balls will cook too quickly. The dough will be over-cooked on the outside but raw on the inside. I use a thermometer to get the oil temperature just right. If you don’t have one, you can test the oil by dipping chopsticks into the oil. If small bubbles form gently around the tips of the chopsticks, the oil is the right temperature. The bubbles should be gentle and not splatter and form vigorously, indicating the oil is too hot. If the latter is the case, lower the heat and try again in a few minutes.
Refrigerate any remaining Sesame Balls at the end of the day. The best way to reheat the Sesame Balls is in a toaster oven, set at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, for 5-6 minutes.
Watch the video for instructions.
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Sesame Balls / Banh Cam / Banh Ran
12 filling balls
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup potato flakes + 1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups glutinous rice flour
1 Tbsp rice flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
3 cups vegetable oil for frying
In a measuring cup, combine sugar with the hot water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. In a large bowl, add the boiling water to the potato flakes. Stir until the potatoes are thick and creamy. Add the glutinous rice flour, rice flour, baking powder, oil and syrup. Mix together working in the dry flour until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough gently with your hands. If the dough is too dry, add water, 1 Tbsp at a time. The dough should be soft and smooth, not wet and sticky. (The additional water varies with the type of glutinous rice flour used. I typically add 2-3 Tbsp more.) Cover dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 hour.
Roll the dough into a 12-inch log. Cut the log in half and then cut each section in half again making 4 equal sections. Cut each of the sections into 3 equal pieces making 12 pieces all together.
Take a section of dough and flatten making approximately a 3-inch circle. Flatten the edges of the dough so it’s slightly thinner than the middle. Place a filling ball in the center. Wrap the dough around the ball pinching together the ends sealing the filling completely. Roll the ball between your palms to form a smooth ball.
Roll the ball in sesame seeds covering the dough completely. Gently roll the ball between your palms pressing the sesame seeds into the dough.
Over Medium heat, heat oil until the temperature is 315 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn down heat slightly to Medium Low. Carefully drop the sesame balls into the hot oil. Cook for 1 minute and then rotate the balls. After 3 minutes the balls float to the top. Fry balls for another 5-7 minutes rotating them in the oil so they brown evenly. When they are golden brown, remove from pan and place on paper towels and allow to cool slightly.
Enjoy while warm!
Yields: 1 dozen
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