These sweet rice balls are a satisfying snack or dessert. They were a favourite treat when I was a boy, with their chewy texture and sweet centre. My mother made them with a filling of sweet bean paste, but I find that prunes are just as satisfying. The rice balls will puff up and split slightly as they are heated, but don’t worry as they will still retain their shape and centres.
First make the dough. Put the rice flour in a large bowl and gradually stir in the hot water, mixing it all the time with a fork or with chopsticks until most of the water is incorporated. The mixture will be quite sticky. Remove the mixture from the bowl and knead it with your hands until smooth, dusting it with a little rice flour from time to time to keep the dough from sticking. This should take about 5–6 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover it with a clean, dry tea towel, and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
If the prunes you are using still have stones in, you can stone them while the dough is resting.
After the resting period, take the dough out of the bowl and knead it again for about 2 minutes, dusting it with a little rice flour if sticky. Once the dough is smooth, form it into a roll about
Roll each of the dough pieces into a small round pancake about
Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or wok until hot. Deep-fry the rice balls in several batches until golden, about 5 minutes. The rice balls will puff up and they may split slightly, popping and splattering fat, so stand well back. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain them on kitchen paper. Serve at once.
© 1995 Ken Hom. All rights reserved.