Recipe for Hēi Zhīma Tāngyuán (黑芝麻湯圓) - Black Sesame Rice Balls in Ginger and Osmanthus Syrup

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  • About 4 Dozen Rice Balls
  • Preparation:
  • Cooking:
  • Waiting:


Rice Ball Dough:

  • 500g (about 3 cups plus scant 3T) Long Grain Glutinous Rice Flour
  • 150g (½-cup, plus 2T; 5¼oz) Boiling Water
  • 245g (1 cup, plus 1t; about 8½oz) Room Temperature Water

One Recipe of:

To Finish:

  • 40g (about ¼-cup) Long Grain Glutinous Rice Flour, for dusting

Ginger and Osmanthus Syrup, for 3 people:

  • 600ml (2½ cups) Water
  • 45g (about ¼-cup) Brown Slab Sugar
  • 18g (1T) fresh Ginger, finely grated
  • 8g (1T) dried Goji Berries
  • 1½g (½T) dried Osmanthus Flowers


  • In a large bowl, measure out the rice flour, then pour in the boiling water. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spatula. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes for the rice flour to hydrate.
  • Add the rest of the water and mix until well combined. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  • Measure out the rice ball dough to 17g pieces, and the filling to 10g balls.
  • Flatten the dough into a disc, then place the filling in the center. Wrap the dough around the filling and pinch the dough together to seal. Give the tāngyuán a gentle roll to keep them round, a quick toss in some rice flour, and set them on a plate.
  • Boil a pot of water, carefully place the desired amount of rice balls into the pot, and cook until they begin to float, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • While bringing the pot of water to a boil, gather the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat up the syrup until it simmers, then turn off the flame.
  • Plate the cooked tāngyuán into a serving bowl, and ladle the syrup over the rice balls. Enjoy eating them surrounded by family and friends.
  • Place the rest of the finished tāngyuán onto a small sheet pan or plate to partially freeze for 30 minutes, then store in a zip-top bag or sealed container for later consumption.

*Bunny Wisdom*

  • The Chinese and Thai brands of rice flour are usually long grain, while the Japanese brands are often short grain. The short grain rice flour will create a stickier texture, which isn't what we're looking for in this recipe.
  • It is possible that the dough may not come together. You might notice a few dry patches. Add about a tablespoon of water, one teaspoon at a time, to see if the mixture comes together better. All the flour should be hydrated and incorporated into the dough.
  • Keeping the dough covered with some cling wrap will prevent drying, especially during the measuring and shaping.
  • It's easier to roll the sesame filling into balls when they have been refrigerated, or slightly frozen. I measure out my paste ahead of time to make the wrapping process faster. Keep the measured filling on a few plates and place into the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Making the edge of the dough thinner allows for more even distribution of rice ball dough, especially at the overlapping part (the seam).
  • A dusting of rice flour helps prevent the balls sticking to the plate and each other.
  • This recipe should make roughly 50 rice balls, but the syrup mixture is measured for only 3 people. Adjust the syrup recipe up or down to make sure everyone gets to sip on some lovely fragrant soup.
  • Goji berries are optional, but they're nice to have in the syrup. The flavors of the osmanthus, berries, and ginger together are really delicious.
  • Osmanthus flowers are in the form of loose tea. It's available in your local Asian supermarket or tea shop.
  • Even if you can't source the goji berries and the osmanthus flowers, combining ginger, sugar, and water can also be a simplified way of enjoying these sesame and peanut tāngyuán.

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