With a rainy week and a cool air seeping in the evenings in the small town of Laie, we have arrived to the chilly times to the land of aloha. To keep yourself feeling cozy for the holidays, try this warm recipe of sweet sticky rice balls in ginger soup, a traditional Chinese dessert.
Mike Cheng, a senior from Hong Kong studying exercise science, gave an explanation of this dessert: “This dessert might seem scary to those who aren’t used to Asian foods—the sticky rice balls are made of a black sesame filling wrapped in white glutinous rice dough and cooked in a sweet ginger soup. The sticky rice balls are chewy, a texture which Asians love.”
This dessert is normally made for major Chinese festivals throughout the year and is a symbol of family unity, shared Lily Leung, a social work alumna originally from Hong Kong who currently lives in Laie. “The sweet ginger soup is very comforting, especially for ladies.” Ginger is well known in Chinese cuisine to be soothing to the stomach, menstrual cycles, and flus.
“On a night where I crave a sweet, warm, gingery, chewy dessert, I would go for the sticky rice balls in ginger soup—if I have all the ingredients after shopping from Chinatown! ” said Helam Lau, a Hong Kongese sophomore studying psychology.
In a medium or large pot, boil 1 liter of water. Bring to boil. Once the water is boiling, put in the slices of ginger and brown slab sugar. Turn down the heat to medium, let simmer for 20 minutes or more. The longer it simmers, the more gingery and spicy it gets, so adjust accordingly to your taste.
Prepare the dough while waiting. In a medium bowl, pour in glutinous rice flour. Using a spatula or hand to mix, slowly pour in the warm water. Knead the dough until smooth. The longer the dough is kneaded, the more chewy the sticky rice balls with be, which might vary with personal preferences. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, set aside for 20-30 minutes to allow the water and flour to incorporate.
In a medium bowl, mix the ground black sesame, sugar, and lard/margarine/butter together until it forms a thick paste.
Prepare a large plate. Unwrap the dough, scoop about 1 tablespoon piece, and roll it into a ball. Press down with your thumb the middle of the ball to make space for the filling; put in ½ teaspoon black sesame paste. Cover the filling by closing up the dough, roll it back into a ball, and set on the plate. Repeat the process until dough and filling are finished.
Put the rice balls into boiling ginger soup, about 20 at a time. Cook for 10-15 minutes. The rice balls are ready when afloat on the top of the soup. Scoop both rice balls and soup into bowls and serve hot.