Banh Januk (glutinous rice balls in ginger syrup with coconut sauce)
Today’s post is another popular Cambodian dessert. It will always be one of my favorite desserts, EVER! The rice balls are filled with mung bean and then cooked to perfection. You place them into a serving bowl and then add a little bit of the sweet ginger syrup and then top it all off with some coconut milk and roasted sesame seeds. YUM, right?!?
FOR THE FILLING:
8 ounces of peeled/split mung beans
2 cups of warm water
FOR THE DOUGH:
1 lb of glutinous rice flour
1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of LUKE WARM WATER
FOR THE GINGER SYRUP:
1 large piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
6 cups of water
6 pieces of palm sugar (or 12.5 ounces)
1/2 tsp of salt
FOR THE COCONUT SAUCE:
1 can of coconut milk (14 ounces)
1/2 tsp of salt
2 tsp of corn starch
toasted sesame seeds
ice water bath
1. Place your mung beans into your rice pot/steamer. Don’t have a rice cooker? Get creative. Wash the mung beans really well. Drain them and repeat process, at least 3 more times. Add in 2 cups of warm water, and then soak for 1 hour before steaming. Steam until done.
2. Meanwhile, slice up your ginger.
3. Boil 6 cups of water and add in your palm sugar, ginger, and salt. Stir to combine. Once your palm sugar has fully melted, bring everything to a quick rolling boil and then turn it down, and allow your ginger syrup to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Place your coconut milk into a small saucepan. Add in your salt and allow it to come to a gentle simmer. Do not walk away or else your coconut milk could boil over! Place your corn starch into a small bowl, add in some of the hot coconut milk, and then stir until smooth. Pour your corn starch mixture into the saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened and then remove from heat.
5. Is your mung bean done steaming? If so, add in your salt and then mix until softened. If you’re rolling your filling by hand and not using a melon baller like me, then do so now.
6. Place your glutinous rice flour into a very large (and shallow) mixing bowl. Start off with 1 1/2 cups of luke warm water, and then gradually add the rest in until it starts to form a ball. Knead for additional 2-3 minutes.
7. Boil a large pot of water.
8. Pinch off a piece of dough (quarter size) and work it into a smooth ball. Flatten it out with the palm of your hand, and using your melon baller, scoop some of your mung bean filling into the middle. Pinch to seal and then GENTLY, smooth it out to form a ball again. You are done at this point but you may also flatten it out, as well. Using your palm, gently flatten it out and repeat process with the rest of the dough. Don’t forget to make some tiny, rice balls (without the filling). Get your kids to help with this part!
9. Add your finished rice balls into your pot of boiling water. They are finished when they all float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, remove and place them into an ice water bath for a few minutes.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE:
Add some glutinous rice balls into a small serving bowl. Then, add a little bit of the sweet ginger syrup. Top if off with some coconut milk and then some sesame seeds. YUM!!
NOTES: These are best served immediately! They do not refrigerate well. Also, the sugar syrup may taste a little sweet to you but once you assemble everything together, it should taste just right! You can also make the mung bean filling ahead. After you’re done steaming them, shape them into balls and then place them onto a baking sheet in a SINGLE LAYER and then freeze. Once frozen, you may put the filling into a ziplock baggie and store for future use. Just remove from freezer and thaw before using!