I've been trying to perfect Banh Cam (Vietnamese Orange Sesame Balls with Sweet Mung Bean Filling) for the longest time. This would be attempt #5 and now I feel confident to post the recipe. Banh Cam or Banh Ran is a deep-fried Vietnamese dessert. The filling is sweet mung bean paste with shredded coconuts. It is rolled into small balls and encased in a dough of glutinous rice flour. The balls are then rolled in sesame seeds then deep-fried. The result is a crunchy outer layer with a sticky and sweet inside. It's the perfect dessert, snack or breakfast. Like all things fried, It's best served right after frying while it's still crunchy.
The trickiest part of this recipe is the dough. It has to be glutinous on the inside and crunchy on the outside. This means it has to have perfect ratio of glutinous rice flour vs regular rice flour vs potato starch. Another tricky part is handling the dough. It needs to be not-too-sticky to handle but also sticky enough to have the sesame seeds stick on the outside. With all these tricky parts, I almost gave up. I mumbled some not-so-lady-like words under my breath as I started all over. Finally, on attempt #5, I was satisfied.
Mung Bean Filling
1 bag of peeled split mung beans (about 2 cups, presoak in warm water overnight before use)
2.5 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Rinse and drain the mung beans thoroughly until water runs clear.
In a small pot, add the mung beans, water, sugar, salt, vegetable oil.
Bring the pot to a boil then lower it to a low simmer.
Cook for about 1 hour, occasionally stirring so that the bottom of the pot doesn't burn.
Let the pot cool and then mix in the shredded coconut.
Optional: To make it easier on myself, I put the filling in the fridge overnight so that it's easier to roll into balls.
Roll the fillings into small balls
If you have extra shredded coconut laying around, roll the filling balls in the shredded coconut.
Glutinous Rice Flour Dough
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large potato (peel, cook in microwave and mash to yield about 1 cup of mashed potato)
1 bag of glutinous rice flour (16 oz)
3 tablespoons rice flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 bag of white sesame seeds
In a small sauce pan, bring water, sugar and vegetable oil to a boil.
Whisk in the mashed potato until it completely dissolves.
Reduce the pan to low heat and let it cool.
In a large bowl, mix together the glutinous rice flour, regular rice flour, and baking powder.
Add in a warm mixture a little at a time and kneed the dough until warm mixture is incorporated. Use your own discretion and do not continue to add the warm mixture if the dough is already too wet. The dough should be smooth, slightly sticky but manageable.
Roll out the dough and cut into segments the same number of filling balls.
Roll the segments into balls and then flatten them out. If you find that the dough is too sticky to handle, lightly dust your hands with the rice flour. Not the glutinous rice flour but regular rice flour. This will help make the outside layer be crunchy. Do not go overboard with the dusting because you do want the outside layer to be sticky for the sesame seeds coating.
Assemble the Sesame Balls
Place the filling ball in the center of the flatten dough.
Slowly pinch together the top so that the dough is now encasing the filling
Roll the dough in the palm of your hands so that it forms a nice ball
Slowly roll the dough in sesame seeds
In the palm of your hands, roll the ball and gently press on the sesame seeds so that they stay in tack.
Frying the Sesame Seed Balls
You will need enough vegetable oil to cover the sesame seed balls. The amount of vegetable oil will vary depending on the size of your pot.
Heat the vegetable oil until it reaches the desired temperature of 315 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also test to know when the temperature is right by placing a chop stick in the oil. If small bubbles form around the chopstick, then the oil is ready for frying.
Using a slotted spoon, slowly lower the sesame balls into the oil.
Cook for about 15 minutes, constantly rotating them so that it remains round
Drain the balls on paper towels.