(Updated in 2023)
These Sweet Glutinous Rice Dumplings (落湯糍/糯米糍) are chewy little balls that are coated in black sesame seeds and dipped in sugar. They require only 5 ingredients. They’re perfect sweet treat for Lunar New Year.
This is my interpretation of my grandma’s (my mom’s side) recipe. It is a dish from a specific region in China called “Chaozhou/Chiuchow 潮州”. My grandma is from Chiuchow. The original name of this snack is “Lok Tang Ci 落湯糍”, but most people will know this as “Nuomici 糯米糍”. Why is this sweet snack being served on Chinese New Year? It is because the word “Ci 糍” sounds almost exactly like the word “Chin 錢 (money)” in Chiuchow dialect. The dumplings are the symbol of wealth.
The dumplings should be made on New Year eve. On the first day of New Year, everyone in the family will go to grandma’s house. We greet each other, give red packets, receive red packets, sit around, eat and chat. These dumplings are one of the things that everyone loves. When the steaming hot dumplings come out of the kitchen and arrive on a table, everyone would run over with a pair of chopsticks and munch on their dumplings. Great memory!
One really interesting thing: My mom and my aunt are never allowed to eat the dumplings. It is because they are married. In Chinese culture, when a daughter married someone, she is the member of the husband’s family. Any family traditions from the daughter’s side of the family will not pass down to the daughter. And the daughter is considered an outsider. Since the dumplings symbolize wealth, my mom never got to eat the dumplings after she got married. But this year, my grandma has suddenly changed the rule to allow my mom to eat under one condition. No take out. (No money is being taken away from the family). Mom said that she hasn’t eaten that for 30 years. Haha… Lucky mom!
But yes, these little dumplings are gooey. The tip is stirring the dough after steaming. It helps to make the dumpling more gooey. Since the plate of dough will be hot, it’s good to get someone help in this process. One person wears oven mitts and holds the hot plate. The other person gives all they have to stir for a few minutes. Then make them into little balls. Place them in a small steaming plate.
The dumplings will remain softish at room temperature, but it’s best to re-steam right before serving. They would be warmer, softer and easier to pick up the sugar. Serve this like family style. Everyone can pick up their dumplings and dip into as much sugar as they want. But don’t start talking when eating. I don’t think anyone will understand you when you have that sticky dumpling in your mouth.
It is fun and tasty, and it will bring you wealth! Have a great new year!
P.S. Special thanks to my fifth uncle for helping out with the background information and recipe tips! I can’t finish this post without his help.
Sweet Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Black Sesame (落湯糍/糯米糍)
- ⅓ cup roasted black sesame seeds
- 150 grams glutinous rice flour
- 170 milliliter water
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (plus extra for handling dough)
- 1½ tablespoons sugar
- In a medium nonstick pan over medium heat, add the roasted black sesame seeds. Stir and do a quick toast for about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate to cool completely.
- Ground the sesame seeds with a mini food processor (or grinder) into coarse powder. Transfer back to the plate. Set aside.
- In a large pot or wok (with lid), put in the steaming rack and add water that reaches 1-inch below the top of the rack. Bring the water to a boil over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the flour. Mix in the water and oil until combined. The dough should be almost like play dough, but runnier. Transfer the dough to a medium bowl that can be steamed and fit in the wok.
- Put the bowl on top of the steaming rack. Cover the wok with a lid and steam for 20 minutes.
- Once the dough is ready, carefully remove the bowl and place on a table. Have someone holding the bowl, stir the dough clockwise with a strong, long and thin utensil (like the handle of a wooden spoon) for 3 – 4 minutes. The dough will get stickier and tougher.
- To make the dumplings, slightly grease a pair of chopsticks on one end. Holding the pair of chopsticks tightly, stab into the dough, pull out and twist the pair of chopsticks together to get approximately 1 tablespoon of dough. Now, take one chopstick in each hand. Scrap the chopsticks back and forth against each other, until the dough has moved to the end of a chopstick. Use a slightly greased hand to separate the dumpling from the chopstick. Roll the dumpling in the sesame seeds until the dumpling is completely covered. Place the dumpling on a small steaming plate. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- To serve, cover the dumplings (in the steaming plate) with aluminum foil. Re-steam the dumplings over medium heat for 6 – 7 minutes (make sure water is boiling before starting to steam). Serve immediately w/ a plate of sugar. Dip the dumplings in sugar to serve.
- Glutinous rice flour is different than rice flour. Look at the package carefully. You can find it in Chinese supermarket.
- Even though the sesame seeds are already roasted, I like to do a quick toast to bring out more flavors. But don’t toast for too long. They will get burn and have a bitter taste.
- I used a mini food processor to ground the sesame seeds. A grinder or mortar and pestle will work too. If you don’t have any of those equipments, you can use a wooden spoon to grind the seeds little by little in a small bowl. It is a long painful process, but it will do the job.
- Stirring the dough after 1st steaming will help to make the dough more gooey, which is critical.
- I found the chopsticks to be helpful for making the dumplings. You can use any methods you want. The goal is to make into 12 – 14 1-tablespoon balls.
- The dumplings can make 1 – 2 day(s) ahead. After the dumplings have been rolled with the sesame seeds. Cover with aluminum foil and keep at room temperature. Re-steam the dumplings when ready to serve.
- If you cannot find roasted sesame seeds, you can get regular black sesame seeds and toast them yourself. How to toast sesame seeds: Read