Indonesians may know this sesame snack as Onde-Onde, but the original recipe for Jian Dui came from Tang Dynasty China. Ever since, Jian Dui has been a mainstay in Chinese cuisine, both as part of home cooking and as street food.
In all Chinese-speaking communities, you will find Jian Dui being fried in a pan somewhere. Whether it be in a Chinatown in Singapore or Malaysia, or on the streets of Shanghai on the Chinese mainland, these pastry balls are extremely popular, especially when piping hot. My first ever experience of Jian Dui was in a small street off of Nanjing Road in Shanghai, and I’ll be honest in saying that at the time I didn’t know what I was eating – all I know is that I returned many times – much to the delight of the woman selling them on the roadside!
Jian Dui is a type of fried pastry made from glutinous rice flour. The pastry is coated with sesame seeds on the outside and has a distinctive crisp and chewy texture. Inside the pastry is a large hollow, which is caused by the expansion of the dough, and this is typically filled with lotus paste, sweet black bean paste, or red bean paste. I sometimes wonder what Jian Dui would taste like if filled with chocolate paste or peanut butter – I’m sure variants like that do exist somewhere, I just haven’t seen them yet!
China has many fried street foods and snacks, but Jian Dui really appeals to my sweet tooth! The pastry and sesame seeds really add a nice contrast to the sweet filling. It all depends on the filling, of course, but if you find a bakery or a street food vendor somewhere that sells a variant of Jian Dui that you like, you find yourself returning more than you should do!
Luckily, with this simple step-by-step guide by the guy over at China Sichuan Food, I can now enjoy Jian Dui at home whenever I want!