Jin Deui

Lesson learned: whenever I think I should make some fresh jin deui, I shouldn’t.

Jin deui are essentially a sort of Chinese doughnut. They have a glutinous rice dough and are usually filled with red bean paste or white lotus paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and then fried. They are a deliciously sticky and sweet treat I grew up eating as dessert with dim sum.

Were these jin deui tasty? Yes. Beautiful? Yes. Terribly exhausting? Yes. How much did I want to call in to work sick the next day, so I could nap at home to recover from my weekend-long, paste-making, dough-frying adventure? So so so much.

To preface: it was the last week of my internship, and as thanks to my managers, I thought it would be nice to bake some treats for them. So after I had already made about three or four or five batches of cookies, I decided to churn out some fresh jin deui. And being as overly-ambitious as I am, I decided store-bought fillings were not enough: everything had to be fresh. Which led to too many hours of soaking and boiling and food-processing.

The dough is very simple and the frying is also. It’s really the paste-making that got to me, and I fully blame my weak, cheap Walmart food processor for my suffering.

Despite my complaints, I do highly recommend the recipe! The taste was as good as (if not better) than restaurant-bought. Make sure you keep an eye on the temperature of the oil; my first few smelled a little burnt. And interestingly enough, I did get one recurring question from coworkers and friends, which was how to keep them from exploding! I personally did not have that problem, but I would recommend investing in a deep fry thermometer; they’re quite inexpensive and dead useful.

Jin Deui
from Claryn and Cynthia (also here)

For about 12 jin deui (I doubled the recipe):
For the dough:
1½ cups glutinous rice flour
¼ cup and 2 tbsp light brown sugar
½ cup water
½ cup sesame seeds
cold water

For the white lotus paste (about 2 cups):
1 cup dried lotus seeds, or two 12 oz cans cooked lotus seeds in water
2/3 to 3/4 cups sugar (to taste)
6 tablespoons coconut oil (I would add this by the tablespoon; I ended up using much less than 6 tablespoons)

For the red bean paste (about 2 cups):
1 cup red beans or azuki beans, dry
2/3 to 3/4 cups sugar (to taste)
6 tablespoons coconut oil (same comment as above)

  1. First prepare the paste(s). For the lotus paste:
    1. Place the seeds in a pot with plenty of water and bring it to a simmer over medium-low heat. Let the seeds cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they are soft enough that you can mash them with a fork.
    2. Drain the cooked seeds, then place them in a food processor with the sugar and a slight pinch of salt (if desired) and blend until smooth. (If you’re using canned lotus seeds, skip straight to this step.) You may need to add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water in this step.
    3. Next, pour the purée into a medium saucepan or skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until much of the water has been cooked away and the purée has thickened to a consistency similar to hummus. At this point, if the purée isn’t as smooth as you like, you can blend it again.
    4. When your purée is the consistency of your liking, add the fat of your choice. Most any fat that is solid at room temperature (excluding butter) should work for this. Stir the mixture until the fat is fully incorporated, then continue to cook over medium heat until the purée becomes glossy and forms a dough that sticks to the spoon in one mass, about 4 to 5 minutes. The consistency should be similar to soft cookie dough at this point. Remove from heat and chill until ready to use.
  2. For the red bean paste:
    1. Soak the red beans in plenty of water for at least 2 to 3 hours and ideally overnight, making sure beans are submerged fully by at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Rinse and drain.
    2. Next, combine the beans with 3 more cups of water in a pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and let the beans simmer for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. As the water boils down, you will need to add just enough water to keep the beans submerged. (For me, I added 1/2 cup after about 30 minutes of boiling, then another 1/2 cup every 15 to 20 minutes until the beans were done.) There is no need to stir the beans — just keep them submerged in water.
    3. After an hour, test a bean by mashing it with a spoon or your fingers. If it splits as two halves, keep cooking. If it smushes easily, it’s done simmering. Drain the beans, then add them to a food processor along with the sugar, and process on high until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor or blender, just drain the water, add the sugar directly to the pot, and keep cooking over low heat, mashing as you would mashed potatoes. It should be just fine that way, too.)
    4. Pour the paste into the pan and add the fat of your choice. If using the paste for steamed buns or mochi, opt for 1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. For mooncakes, use a solid fat: I used coconut oil, but many traditional mooncake fillings use lard. Stir until the fat is incorporated, then cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring consistently, until the paste becomes glossy and forms a soft dough that sticks to the spoon in one mass. Remove from heat and chill until ready to use.
  3. Pour sesame seeds into a shallow bowl. Fill a small bowl with cold water.
  4. In a small saucepan, boil ½ c water. Add brown sugar to hot water and stir to dissolve. Pour glutinous rice flour into a medium bowl; make a well, and pour in hot sugar mixture. Stir mixture with a fork until dough comes together.
  5. Knead for 1-2 minutes, until dough is smooth. Add a little extra boiling water if needed, but take care not to let dough get sticky. (I made my dough a bit on the stickier side, which made it easier to form balls later.)
  6. To assemble, pinch off a portion of dough and roll into a ball (1½” for smaller balls, or the size of a golf-ball for larger ones). Make a well in the ball with your finger; place about a teaspoon of bean paste inside. Seal the dough around the opening, being careful not to let paste seep out (this may take a little practice; try pinching the seam shut and rolling it into a ball again, and feel free to use extra water as needed).
  7. Dip filled ball into bowl of cold water and roll in sesame seeds to coat. Repeat until all dough has been used.
  8. In a deep fryer, bring oil to 375°F. (I personally thought this was a bit too hot; I preferred somewhere around 340°F.) Drop a couple of balls into the oil, rotating them regularly so they cook evenly. After a few minutes, the balls will rise to the top of the oil. Using a spatula or chopsticks, hold the balls under the oil (it helps to trap them against the side of your deep fryer) for another 3-5 minutes (depending on size), until golden brown. Cooking them on the longer side is preferable, as long as you don’t burn the outsides. If you’re unsure, you can sample a test ball; if the inner dough is soft and raw, increase the frying time.
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