*Scroll down to the end of this blog post for a video tutorial of this recipe.
Call me childish, but I’m a little more excited about this Christmas season because I took a calligraphy workshop last month. For the first time in my life, I can make pretty Christmas cards by myself. That really means a lot to me as I always find it so rewarding to hand make something from scratch for my loved ones. For almost two weeks now, I wake up really early, make myself some tea, put a candle under some essential oil, and practice drawing and writing. My dining table is piled up with papers, water colors and ink. It’s messy, but I think it’s a joyful, festive looking mess. (I think my husband thinks so too.)
Christmas this year is my first one in a land of perpetual summer. Seeing a Christmas tree surrounded with people in shorts, sun dresses and flip flops is a huge change from snowy New York and chilly Hanoi. But it feels just as exciting! Because of the warm weather, I substitute lemongrass for cinnamon. Lemongrass ginger tea replaces cinnamon hot chocolate; lemongrass scented candles instead of vanilla cinnamon ones.
Last week I made my childhood favorite snack: sesame rice donuts, which brought me back to my middle school days. Then, there used to be a woman frying and selling these on the sidewalk on my way from home to school. My best friend and I would walk to school, and every time we passed by, the donuts smelled so good we had to stop and pick up some, sometimes too many. The same thing happened on our way back. And so we ate these donuts twice a day, before and after school, almost every day for years. I was a little chubby and my friend was skinny and she could eat more donuts than I did. I remember feeling pretty jealous about that.
These donuts are simple to make, and the way you cook the beans and make the dough is actually very similar to how I make Vietnamese mochi in sweet ginger. The combination of an extremely fresh and crispy outer shell, imbued with roasted sesame seeds, and the earthy sweetness of mung bean paste on the inside creates a dessert designed to get any Asian mouth (and those who love Asian food) drooling with anticipation!
This dessert is emblematic of Asian desserts in general in that it is much less sugary than most Western desserts, and in the fact that it incorporates bean paste as the main filling. Although this is a bit different from the Western palate, my American husband assures me that this is an instantly delicious and enjoyable dessert for a Westerner to try.
If you’l like to experience a truly Vietnamese dessert which is naturally gluten free, vegan, low(er) sugar and high in phytonutrients, this is a great place to start! These are best eaten still warm after cooking, like almost all Vietnamese food. Hey, we’re a country where many people don’t have refrigerators so we like our food extremely fresh!
Watch the video below to see how to make them for yourself. Chúc ngon miệng!
VIETNAMESE SESAME RICE DONUTS (VEGAN, GLUTTEN-FREE)
– Glutinous rice flour: 350 grams
– Rice flour: 50 grams
– Water: 250 ml
– Sugar: 50 grams
– A pinch of salt
- Mix well until combined and non-sticky. (You might want to add a little bit more glutinous rice flour or water)
- Let the dough sit for 30 minutes.
– Mung beans: 150 grams (could be replaced by red or black beans)
– Water: 200 ml
– Sugar: 100 grams
– A pinch of salt
- Soak beans in water for 1 hour.
- Strain and add beans to a sauce pan.
- Add water, salt, and cook over low heat until soft (about 30 minutes depending on how thick the pan is)
- Turn up heat to medium, add sugar and stir until the beans become a paste.
- Let cook and round the beans into balls.
Wraping the donuts:
1. Divide the dough into balls that are double the size of the bean balls.
2. Flatten a rice ball, place beans in the middle, then wrap the dough around the bean ball. Make sure it’s completely sealed with no beans showing through.
3. Dip the donut into a bowl of roasted sesame seeds until fully covered. I highly recommend watching the video to see how I do this step.
Frying the donuts:
1. Add vegetable oil to a sauce pan. The oil should reach about 5 cm. Cook oil over medium heat until it reaches 200 ° C. You can test by dipping a chopstick or a fork into the oil. If the oil drizzles, it’s good to fry.
2. Reduce heat to low. This step is very important because higher heat makes the oil splash, which is very dangerous.
3. Add donuts and fry until they are golden.
4. Remove from heat and place on paper napkins to absorb oil.
Chúc ngon miệng!