As a staple ingredient in the diverse cuisine of China, sesame seeds are toasted and used as a topping for cakes and dim sum snacks. Thanks to the slightly bitter flavour of sesame, it can balance out the sweetness of desserts. Here are six Chinese desserts with sesame seeds you should try on your travels.
BLACK SESAME SOUP
Black sesame soup or tong sui, also sometimes known as black sesame paste is one of the healthy and traditional Chinese desserts. Typically served warm, toasted black seeds give this soothing soup a nutty, earthy flavour. It is usually served as a cap to a meal, but it can also be served in a dim sum spread. This Cantonese dessert is a popular treat when winter comes. If you are strolling along the streets of Sheung Wan in Hong Kong, you will find small restaurants making these traditional desserts.
BLACK SESAME ROLLS
No Chinese food tour would be complete without trying a piece of black sesame rolls. Known as a popular dish in Hong Kong, these black rolls are a common dim sum dessert. This treat has a smooth, jelly-like texture, achieved by creating a thin paste from black seeds. It is often shaped into a thin sheet that is then refrigerated before being rolled into a cylindrical shape. The recipe is very simple, so you can make it at home.
BLACK SESAME DUMPLINGS
Many Chinese people believe that round food symbolises completeness and family gatherings. Commonly called tang yuan, these sweet rice balls are made with a glutinous rice outside that is filled with black seed paste and submerged in liquid. It is often prepared and eaten during the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, which is usually a raucous celebration that symbolises the revelers’ hopes for a prosperous new year.
Typically eaten around the Chinese New Year, Nian gao is considered good luck and prepared as an offering to the kitchen god Zao Jun. The texture is similar to other food made with glutinous rice flour. It can be flavoured in different ways and used in sweet or savoury dishes. This sticky rice cake is either steamed or pan-fried with an egg. Nian Gao is then commonly covered with sesame seeds or other toppings such as dried dates.
Jian Dui, sometimes also known as mu tuan, is a popular dim sum snack and is also eaten for breakfast in China’s Guangdong Province. These fried sesame balls are believed to have originated during the Tang Dynasty from 618-907 when the snack was often enjoyed by members of the royal court in the imperial palace. The crispy outside is covered in sesame seeds and fried, while the chewy inside is often filled with red bean or lotus seed paste.
When it comes to the Mid-Autumn Festival in China, mooncakes are always high up on the list. Although mooncake flavours can range from green tea to red bean paste, one popular filling is black sesame. Some people usually combine the sesame seeds with mung bean to create a smooth, fragrant paste while others combine the black bitter seeds with nuts for a crunchy texture. There is also a version with a salted egg yolk filling surrounded by black sesame paste.