When I was a little girl (not so long ago :) ) I used to sit at my friend’s house watching cartoons and playing ‘house’ and every so often her mum would come home and bring us these little plastic containers, maybe the size of my palm, and inside there would be a single layer of these little white balls sprinkled in sesame. Nothing special, right? But they were delicious, and I always wanted more. The magic of these I think was the sugar. Palm sugar has this very particular taste to it, I could just eat it on its own if left unguarded ^^’ I came back to these little balls last year and made them several times to bring to school. Since they don’t require a sauce, they’re quite easy to bring (although very sticky!).
Anyhow, this ‘recipe’ is basically how my mother taught me to make banh troi, I do apologise if it bears very close resemblance to someone else’s recipe, it is not intentional.
To make… 3 plates’ worth of goo balls/ banh troi (I did not count every individual one):
- 400g of glutinous rice flour
- Approx 3 cups of water (for flour)
- 2-3 cups of solid palm sugar (cubed. I dunno how much this is when in a lump, because I don't have scales. Depends on how much filling you want anyway.)
- Roasted sesame seeds
- Bowl of cold water
- Water for boiling
For those living in Warsaw, I used an entire pack of the glutinous flour you can get in Asian House. If you can get better flour, avoid using this flour. It serves the purpose, but to me, it leaves plenty to be desired. My uncle was supposed to send some good flour over, but he didn’t. Ideally you would want finely ground flour that’s been infused with some sort of aroma (my favourite is grapefruit flowers), but that’s not easily obtainable when you live overseas, so I guess we just have to deal. We have this other flour, which for some reason comes in lumps, that’s infused with grapefruit flowers, but I don’t like what my mother makes with it, so I just sniff it ^_^
Anyway, if you’re using packaged flour, this is what you have to do, according to the holy wisdoms of my mother.
Mix your flour with the water. The value is approximate, because my mother was pouring and I didn’t have time to measure it out. In any case, you want to end up with a soup of the approximate consistency of unwhipped cream. At this stage if you want to add some sort of aroma to your ‘batter’, do so. Cover with a cloth if you wish, to avoid silly little bugs falling in, and leave for about 6 hours.
Come back after 6 hours and line a sieve with a piece of muslin (I think it’s called that?) or just some cotton cloth. Pour your flour mixture in, cover with a plate and again, leave for about 6 hours.
When you come back a great deal of the liquid should have seeped out, but the stuff left behind might still be a tad too moist. If so grab the cloth and wrap it around and squeeze out excess water. You want to be left with a lump of ‘dough’ which is moist-ish, but not gloppy. Kind of crumbly works well for me. (But not too crumbly, because you will have trouble shaping it later)
Take your palm sugar and cut it into little cubes, about a third to a half the size of what you want your goo balls to be.
Pinch a bit of the dough and flatten it out a little. You don’t need to roll it into a ball and then make a patty of it, it’s too much fuss and doesn’t make much of a difference anyway. Place your cube of sugar on and close the dough around it. I like to make my layer of dough around the sugar quite thin, but if you prefer you can have it fatter.
At this point, don’t overhandle your goo balls, because you might cause the sugar to melt and leak all over the place. Also, try not to leave the sugar exposed. Here’s a little ball.
And here’s an army of them.
While you’re busy making your army of raw goo balls, bring a pot of water to boil. Once you’ve covered an entire plate and your water is boiling and your little goo ball soldiers are starting to stick and leave their bums behind on the plates, it’s time for a swim. Plonk your balls into the water and wait til they float to the surface.
Leave them boiling for another 3-5min, then take them out and dunk into a bowl of cold water. Kinda like blanching, I suppose :P
Take them back out and put onto a plate. Sprinkle with roast sesame seeds. You can use black to look more dramatic :D
Tada! Ready to eat!
Here’s a cross section of one. The sugar didn’t melt properly, so it’s still a bit gunky inside. If it does melt properly though, you might want to avoid biting around people, because lots of squirting may ensue!
Of course there’s a variety of different fillings you can use, like black sesame paste, mung bean paste, tsubuan, or even minced meat for savory ones! I do however love the simplicity of these and that addictive taste of plam sugar, mmmm….