Buchi, or also known as sesame balls, are soft, chewy, and extra delicious with sweetened red bean filling. Delicious as a snack or dessert!
Buchi has been in my bucket list for quite some time, but I've been putting off this project because I was intimidated by what I thought to be a complicated process. Of course, my trepidation was entirely unnecessary as I soon realized, some things are indeed easier and more straightforward than they seem.
Armed with the tips and tricks I read online, I made them for the first time today, and I am happy to report, my venture was successful. After a couple of hours of making the filling, stuffing, rolling, and frying, I had about two dozens golden sesame balls to enjoy with my ice-cold Diet Coke. #happy dance.
Buchi are a Filipino adaptation of Jian dui, a type of Chinese fried pastry made from glutinous rice flour, a sweet filling, and sesame seed coating. The sticky rice flour is mixed with a liquid (usually water) to form a soft dough, shaped into a ball to encase the filling, and coated in sesame before frying to golden perfection.
Also known in the United States as sesame seed balls, they're commonly sold at most Asian restaurants, dim sum houses, and bakeshops. Golden and crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, they make a delicious and filling snack or dessert.
About the filling
- This sesame dumpling is traditionally stuffed with lotus, peanut, or black or red bean paste, but feel to experiment with abundant indigenous ingredients such as purple yam, kamote, and mung beans as well as innovative options like cheese, chocolate, peanut butter, and yema.
- Our recipe here uses sweetened red bean or azuki paste made from scratch. It took a bit of work and time to prepare as the beans need to be soaked and simmered for hours before pureeing to a smooth consistency in a food processor and cooking down into a thick paste on the stovetop. If you want to speed up the process and still enjoy the same sweet, creamy tastes, you can buy already prepared azuki pastes or pre-cooked beans available at most Asian supermarkets.
- Process the cooked beans into a fine or chunky paste as desired.
- Use a small scoop to portion the sweetened mixture and refrigerate until firm to make wrapping in dough easier.
- For a crispier shell, replace ¼ cup of the rice flour with wheat flour.
- To give the sesame balls a nice color and texture, add about ½ cup cooked and mashed potato, kamote, or kalabasa to the dough.
- The flour and water ratio may vary depending on the brand of glutinous rice flour used. To check for the right consistency, pinch a small piece of dough and flatten it with your fingers. If it breaks and falls apart, add more water in one tablespoon increments as needed. If it feels too wet and overly sticky, add more flour as needed.
- To keep the sesame seeds from falling off during frying, very quickly dip the stuffed balls in a bowl of cold water or use a spray bottle to lightly moisten before rolling in the seeds. You can also make an edible glue by dissolving about 2 tablespoons of glutinous rice flour in about ½ cup water, and quickly dip the balls in the mixture.
- For variety, use white or black sesame seeds, or a combination of both for coating.
- While assembling, cover the balls with a clean kitchen towel or plastic film to keep from drying out.
- Use enough oil for deep-frying to allow the buchi to float freely to the surface when cooked. Do not overcrowd the pot. Do not overcrowd the pan and leave enough room to be able to regularly turn the buchi to ensure even browning.
- Do not cook on high temperature lest the balls explode and the sesame seeds burn before the dough is cooked through. Cook on low to medium-low heat for best results.
Tips for the perfect shape
The most frustrating part of making buchi is watching your perfectly golden and round sesame balls collapse after cooling. Follow these tips below on how to keep them from deflating or sagging.
- Use hot water to "cook" the dough a little. Add the hot sugar water to the flour gradually and combine into a soft, pliable texture. Knead the dough for about 2 to 3 minutes, cover, and let rest for about 10 to 20 minutes.
- Watch your proportions! Using too much water will make the balls deflate after frying.
- Like palitaw, the buchi will float to the surface of the oil when cooked. To help it keep shape and prevent sagging, continue to cook for a few minutes using a pair of chopsticks to turn them constantly in the oil for even browning.
How to serve
- Serve for breakfast or as a midday snack or after-meal dessert. Delicious with coffee or tea!
- To store for future use, arrange the unfried balls in a single layer on a baking sheet and wrap tightly with plastic film. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and deep-fry when ready to serve.
- To warm up cooked buchi, heat in the oven or re-fry in oil.
- 1 ⅓ cups water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 3 cups glutinous rice flour
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- oil for deep frying
For the Mung Bean Filling
- 1 cup peeled split mung beans
- ½ cup sugar
- In a saucepot over medium heat, bring the 1 ⅓ cups water to a boil. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat.
- In a big bowl, place the glutinous rice flour and make a well in the center. Slowly add half of the hot water. With a spatula, stir to moisten the flour.
- Add the rest of the water and continue to combine into a smooth dough. To check for the right consistency, pinch a small piece of dough and flatten with your fingers. If the dough breaks and falls apart, add more water in 1 tablespoon increments as needed. The dough should feel wet but not overly sticky. Let rest for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Form the dough into a cylindrical log and cut into uniform portions. Using palm of hands, roll each portion into 2-inch size balls. Continue to roll until ball is smooth and without cracks. Place in a single layer on a platter and repeat with remaining dough. Cover with plastic film until ready to use.
- Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of the dough ball and slowly enlarge to fit in a mung bean ball filling,
- Place one tablespoon mung bean filling in the center and gather edges of dough around filling.
- Pinch dough together to completely seal and using the palm of hands, roll repeatedly into a smooth ball with no cracks or openings.
- Gently dip balls in a bowl of water until just moistened (you can also use a spray bottle filled with water to lightly spray balls).
- Gently roll moistened balls in sesame seeds until fully coated, pressing lightly to make sure seeds adhere well to the balls. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
- In a pot over low to medium heat, heat about 3-inch deep of oil. Make sure oil is deep enough to fully submerge balls.
- Gently lower balls into oil and deep-fry for about 6 to 7 minutes or until golden brown and begins to float to the top. Do not overcrowd pot. Leave enough room to be able to regularly turn buchi during frying to ensure even browning.
- Remove from pot and drain on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.
For the Mung Bean Filling
- Rinse beans with cold water and drain well.
- In a pot over medium heat, combine beans and about 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.
- In a blender or a mortar and pestle, process beans until smooth. Add sugar and stir until combined.
- In a non-stick pan over medium-low heat, add mung bean mixture. Cook, stirring regularly and mashing with back of spoon, until liquid is absorbed and mixture turns into a thick paste. Re
- Remove from heat and allow to slightly cool. Portion into ½ tablespoonfuls and shape into rounds. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and cool for about 10 to 15 minutes or until firm.