Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Balls are filled with mung bean paste and bathed in the fragrant and sweet ginger syrup. This warm dessert is very fulfilling and comforting.
Overview of Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup (Che troi nuoc)
Growing up in Vietnam, I got to eat and love many warm desserts, one of which is glutinous rice balls/dumplings in ginger syrup. In Vietnam, we call this dessert “che troi nuoc“. The name is derived from the fact that the rice balls/dumplings will float to the surface when cooked through. It’s difficult to find an equivalent name in English, so you can call it glutinous dumplings, glutinous rice balls, sticky rice balls or whatever you like :).
The skin of the rice balls is glutinous rice flour and it has an addictive soft-chewy texture. The filling is creamy mung bean paste which is slightly sweet. The combination of the rice balls and the ginger syrup is pure heaven on cool fall days or cold winter days. We usually sprinkle sesame seeds or chopped peanuts over it to add a nutty flavor and increase the deliciousness.
Making Vietnamese Glutinous Rice Balls in Ginger Syrup (Che troi nuoc)
We will discuss in more details, but here are some important tips for making this delicious dessert:
1. Choose the glutinous rice flour (sweet rice flour, sticky rice flour) which is made from grinding glutinous rice with water.
2. Soak mung bean for a few hours will shorten the cooking time.
3. Gently and slowly wrap the dough tightly around the filling. Avoid letting air pockets between the dough and filling, because the air pockets can make the dumplings break when we cook them.
To make Vietnamese glutinous rice balls, you need glutinous rice flour, mung bean, shredded coconut (optional), coconut milk and regular sugar. Apparently, there are two types (at least as far as I know) of glutinous rice flour. The first type is made from grinding sticky rice finely with water. It seems Vietnamese or Thai glutinous rice flour sold in the U.S. is this type, and it is the best for making these dumplings. The second type is made from grinding just sticky rice, for example, Japanese mochiko flour belongs to this category. If you make these dumplings with this flour, the end product is not as soft as using the first type. Therefore, please check to make sure you purchase the right flour. The ingredient list of the flour should say glutinous rice and water.
The ginger syrup requires fresh ginger and palm sugar. You can easily tell from its name that palm sugar is made from palm tree. It has a light caramel color, and its sweetness doesn’t feel as sharp as white sugar. Using palm sugar gives the syrup a beautiful golden color which is a little lighter than the color of honey. You can find palm sugar at Asian grocery stores.
Making the rice balls
The first step is to make the filling. You need to cook the mung bean until it is very soft, and then mash or process finely in a food processor. After that, you mix it with sugar, coconut milk, and coconut to create the mung bean paste. Divide the paste and form into small balls.
After you have the filling ready, proceed to making the dough. First, mix glutinous rice flour with lukewarm water. Knead for a couple of minutes, then divide and form small dough balls. You need to gently wrap the dough tightly around the filling and try to avoid creating air pockets as much as you can. Instructions and step-by-step photos are in the recipe below. Next, bring a large pot of water to a boil and drop the balls to the pot. You know they are cooked when they float to the surface.
Making the ginger syrup is very easy. You just simmer ginger and palm sugar in a pot of water. You can add one or two knotted pandan leaves to the syrup for more fragrance but it is totally optional. When the syrup is ready, add the glutinous dumplings and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. This step will make the dumplings softer, and the skin will turn from white to a subtle golden hue.
Some people like to drizzle some coconut sauce when serving but I don’t think it’s a must. You can make the coconut sauce by simmering coconut milk and adding some tapioca starch (or corn starch) slurry to thicken it to your liking.
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates.