Ruyi guo (如意果), also called Tong Bat Lat (糖不甩) in Cantonese, are glutinous rice balls served in a sweet syrup. They’re not difficult to make, once you get the hang of kneading rice flour dough.
This year, my mom drew up elaborate plans for an entire Chinese New Year’s eve feast, a 10-course meal (excluding desserts) for just the 4 of us. I vowed that I would contribute something to the dinner at my house this year, and narrowed down my options to two: glutinous rice balls of some sort or fa gao (發糕), which looks like a split open cupcake. The former seemed easier, and I found a really good recipe via Google.
Glutinous rice balls, made with glutinous rice flour (found at any Asian supermarket), are some of the most versatile desserts out there! This is a quintessential Burmese New Year dessert as well, except that the Burmese style ones are served with palm sugar syrup and shredded coconut. Hopefully in April, I’ll have time to share my mom’s recipe on Oh My Food Coma! too.
Rice ball ingredients:
- Glutinous rice flour
- Lukewarm water
- Cold water
- Unsalted peanuts ~ according to personal preference
- Sesame seeds (black and/or white)
- Brown candy (片糖, lit. piece sugar)
- Ginger (3 to 4 slices)
I’m adapting the recipe from Christine’s Recipes, albeit separated into sections for clarity.
- Start with the garnishings first. Use a brush to lightly oil a small pan.
- Fry the unsalted peanuts whole, turning them over regularly until they brown a bit.
- Set the peanuts aside to cool. Put sesame seeds in the remaining oil to roast, until they emit an aroma. I also used black sesame seeds for better contrast and make the dessert more appetizing.
- Remove the sesame seeds from the pan.
- Use a mortar and pestle to coarsely grind the peanuts. Another option is to use a rolling pin on a Ziplock bag containing the peanuts.
- Then start with the ginger sugar syrup. Chop a few pieces of ginger (3 to 4 should suffice). Chop 1 piece of rock candy into smaller pieces.
- Use the pan from earlier and start boiling ~1 cup of water.
- Add the chopped items into the pan once the water starts boiling.
- After the syrup boils, leave on low heat to simmer.
- Next are the rice balls. Put the glutinous rice flour (start off with 100 g) into a large bowl.
- Slowly add warm water to the mix and knead.
- Alternate with warm water and cold water for better consistency.
- Continue kneading until no sticky residues remain in the bowl.
- Roll the dough on a flat surface and separate into small equal pieces (pinch off 1/2-in or so, according to taste).
- Roll each piece into small balls with hands and set aside.
- Get a small pot of water boiling. Cook the balls and stir so the balls don’t attach to the pot’s bottom.
- Once the balls have emerged, remove them and let them cook in the ginger syrup for 10 minutes.
- Then the produit final is ready. Serve with peanuts and sesame seeds, according to personal preference.
The main issue I came across was kneading the flour. I added too much water at the outset, resulting in a sticky and gooey texture, so I solidified the dough by slowly adding some flour, adding some water and kneading thoroughly to prevent flour clumps from forming. The amount of water used will vary from person to person. Just keep kneading until the dough is manageable.
My family prefers smaller, dainty rice balls (akin to Burmese mont lone yay paw / မုန့်လုံးရေပေါ်), so I ended up making the balls smaller than Chinese-style ones.