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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bánh Cam (Orange Sesame Ball)



This beautiful, delectable, low key sweet treat is very common in Viet Nam. It's made of mainly sweet rice gluten wrapped around a ball of mung bean paste and coated in sesame seeds. After the deep fry, its gorgeous orange color makes you want to sink your teeth into its crunchy nutty shell.

My husband is very picky on banh cam. It has to be crunchy, but not too chewy; the dough has to be tasty. The filling has to have the right amount of sweetness, aroma and softness. He prefers it in a smaller size so each bite contains both dough and filling. 

Last weekend, we spent the Vietnamese New Year with my parents in So Cal. We had banh cam from a couple of diffrent places. My husband really likes banh cam from a lady who sold it on the street at the New Year parade. Her banh cam are about walnut size, but packed with flavor and a hearty crunch; they were quite delicious. My husband kept some for the next day just to see if the crispiness of the shell would last; turns out it lasts for 2 days. We never had banh cam like these before. Unfortunately, we were not able to find these at any of the markets nor did we find the lady. With banh cam, it's all about the crunch and the flavor of the filling.

Just to sastify my husband's craving, I decided to do some research on banh cam. Last night, I finally got my recipe down and started to experiment with the help of my oldest daughter. 

We made 90 golf-ball size banh cam. The filling is mung bean paste and shredded coconut. The result was better than we had anticipated; they were crunchy, soft, flavorful, but not oily at all. My banh cam is still so crispy after I leave it out for a day. In the middle of the night, my daughter woke up from her sleep to ask for them only to fall back to sleep seconds later; it was hilarious. She ate at least 6 of them for breakfast the following day.

This time I record a part of the process. Thanks to my dear husband who surprised me with a brand new 12 megapixel camera which has the ability to record HD video to replace the antique 4.0 megapixel point and shoot Minolta. 

 
Play this video clip on How to make Banh Cam Balls. There's a part in this video that is a bit shaky. Sorry guys, I had to make the pastries and recorded it myself, so the quality control isn't perfect.
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RECIPE: Bánh Cam

Ingredients
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Dough
1 bag Glutinous Rice Flour, 16 oz or about 4 1/2 cups (bột nếp)
3 tablespoons of Rice Flour (bột gạo)
2 teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 3/4 cups of Water.
1 1/4 cup of Sugar
2 tablespoon of Oil
3/4 cup of Mashed Potato, boiled a fresh potato, removed skin and mashed it
or 1/2 cup of potatoes flake
2 teaspoons of pure Vanilla Extract
1 bag of White Sesame Seeds

Bring water, sugar and oil to boil. Add mashed potato or potatoes flake and stir it. Remove from heat. Add vanilla extract and let it cool down for about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture through the strainer, smash the mashed potatoe in the strainer. Scrape mashed potato off the outside of the strainer. If you use potatoes flake, you don't need to use the strainer.

Empty a bag of glutinous rice flour in a large bowl. Add rice flour and baking powder. Mix all these ingredients well. Pour the warm mixture into flour and kneed it for 15 minutes until dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Divide dough into your own size of balls. Set it aside.

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Filling

1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 bag of Peeled and Split Mung Beans (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 cup of Sugar 
2 cups of Grated Coconut, optional
2 tablespoons of oil 
2 teaspoon of Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 teaspoon of Salt

Soak mung beans overnight so it is quicker to cook them but this step is optional. Rinse and drain the beans. In a pot, add 2 1/2 cups of water and bring it to boil. Cook mung beans the same way you cook steamed rice. Reduce the heat to low, stir it and cook with lid on for about 15 minutes or until soft. Mash it.


Add the remaining ingredients to the mung beans pot. The mung beans now are mushy because of the sugar we just added in. Bring it back to the stove and simmer it until it's thick. Make sure to stir it constantly so the mung beans won't stick to the pot. Cool off the mixture in room temperature. Divide beans paste into balls equally to the dough balls.
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Prepare Pastry Balls

Take a ball of dough, and roll it with your palms to make ball, then flatten it.
Take a bean paste ball, put in the middle of the round flat dough.
Close the dough to make a ball.
Roll the ball in sesame seeds.
Heat a pot of oil at high. To test the heat of the oil, dip a chopstick into the oil. If you see bubbles rise around the chopstick, your frying oil is hot enough.
Reduce heat to medium. Deep fry the pastry until it's golden and puffy. It takes about 15 minutes.
Remove it and set it on a few paper towels to dry off the oil.

Enjoy...

44 comments:

  1. Looks great! I will try this!! Thanks.

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  2. They look great. I'll try to make banh cam when I have more time. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Your daughters are beautiful!

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  3. I made these banh cam yesterday and they turned out very good and crunch. The only thing is that the next, it is no longer crunchy. Is there a way to make them still stay crunch the next couple of days? Please email me back at itran1@hotmail.com. Thanks.

    Isabella

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  4. I made it one time and it was about midnight. The next morning, it was still crunchy. There wasn't any banh cam left for me to test out if it still crunchy after the second day.
    But make sure to put banh cam on top of paper towel to absorb the oil. The oil can make banh cam soggy. Potato that you use in banh cam is supposed to make banh cam crunchy. I used fresh potato. The second time I made it, I use potato flake and it didn't turn out right, but I don't think it's the potato flake. I was in a hurry making it and must have done something wrong.

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  5. I had made some a long time ago but the color didn't turn out to be orange. The ones that I've ate from the store is orange. How do you get it to be orange?

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  6. The color is the result of deep frying. There is no artificial color added. Try it. It should work. Good luck!

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  7. Hello Annette, I'm a new follower and fan of your blog. Not sure if you still update on this Banh Cam blog but I need a few pointers from you since the two times I've made Banh Cam came out less than successful. I've used a recipe similar to yours with smashed potatoes.
    1. I've tried my best to wrap but it seemed my wrapping is not even. The heavy part always turned to the bottom of the pan, making it uneven (yellow on the bottom, and white on the top)
    2. What's makes the Banh cam's filing bounce around inside? Some of mine do bounce, some don't :(
    3. Do we use double acting or single acting baking powder?
    Please help. Like your daughter, my 3-year-old son loves banh bam. We live far away from Vietnamese stores, so he only has banh cam once in a while. Would be treat for him if I can make banh cam similar to the store-bought. Thanks in advance.

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  8. Hi Maihao,
    Thank you for being a fan of my blog. Below are the best answers I can think of:

    1. It could be your oil temperature that cause the balls sink to the bottom of the frying pan. THE OIL HAS TO BE HOT AND IT SHOULD FIZZLE AND FRY THE DOUGH WHEN YOU DROP IT IN.
    To make the wrapping even, divide the dough into balls, then flatten it with a roller or your palms. Close the dough to make a ball. Then roll the ball with your palms TO EVEN OUT. The wrapping should be even (see the video).

    The oil has to be hot before dropping the balls into it. Make sure THE BALLS ARE FULLY SUBMERSE IN THE hot oil. Turn the heat down to medium temperature.

    Deep frying tips:
    "Deep frying does not actually make the food greasy if it is done properly. What happens is the water in the food repels the oil. However, the hot oil also boils the water within the food, and steams the food from the inside out. As long as the oil is hot enough and the food is not immersed in the oil for too long, no oil will enter the food itself. If the food stays in the oil too long, the water will steam out and the oil will penetrate the food. If the oil is too cool, the food won't be done before this happens."

    2. To make the banh cam's filling bounce around inside, the filling shouldn't be too dry or too wet. You wont' be able to form a ball if it is. In YOUR case, I SUSPECT it might be the oil temperature.

    3. Baking Powder: Certain pastries have to BE useD WITH the right kind of baking powder. I used the Alsa brand. It's in a small pink paper bag that you can find at almost any Asian stores. It doens't say single action or double action on the bag, but it is a single-action. See image: http://www.simplygourmand.com/products.php?product=Alsa-Baking-Powder

    I ran into the same problem as you did when I made it the second time for my niece's birthday. I was in a hurry making it so I didn't have time to analyze what I did wrong. I had to dump everything in the trash :-<
    Try again and let me know how it turns out.

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  9. Hi Loan,
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I followed your recipe and it came out perfect on the 1st try! I made 100 banh cam for our July 4th party and they were gone within 15 minutes. I used the "Hungry Jack" potato flakes and "Arm & Hammer" baking soda. My family like the bite-sized sesame balls, so my pre-fried ones are about 1/2 the size of a golf ball.

    The 2nd time I made it, I made the filling & the dough 1 day ahead of time, refrigerate, then make the balls the next day; they turned out great as well. These sesame balls also freeze beautifully (pre-fried). When my kids crave for some, I just throw some frozen balls into the deep fryer and they're ready in 15 minutes!

    Thank you so much again for sharing!
    Hoa

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  10. Hoa, thanks for sharing your results and your ideas. Pre-made filling and dough is a great idea. I did the same thing with the left over dough and filling the next day and it actually made it a lot easier when I didn't have to do everything at once and right away. I also like your idea idea of deep-fry the frozen pre-fried banh cam...except the fact that pre-fried food has been cooked in oil and is generally high in fat content and calories, but it's okay if we only eat it once in a while :>

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  11. Hoa, I just remember that instead of deep frying the frozen pre-fried banh cam which will absorb too much of oil, you can just broil it in an oven with the oven door partially open. It should be crunchy again.

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  12. My boyfriend is Vietnamese and he introduced me to banh cam, and I love it! I live in a little town with no Asian markets though,so I had to buy the mung beans for the filling at a bulk food store. Can you tell me how much were in the bag that you used? And I was also wondering if the dough of yours became thin when you cooked it? The banh cam I have had was about the size of an orange with the outside thin and crunchy with a big hollow center and the filling ball would rattle around when you shake it. I am so excited to try this!
    Stephanie

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  13. Hi Stephanie, a bag of mung beans is one & half cups. But 1 cup should be enough. Have fun making it.

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  14. Thank you! :)
    Stephanie

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  15. I made your recipe tonight, it turned out delicious except the mung bean was a little on the moist side, next time, i'm going to put a little bit less water. Also, I had to eat them right away because they got soft after an hour. I heard that if you put a little more rice flour, they stay crispier longer, not sure if that's true or not, I'm going to try it next time. I have 2 questions, what brand is your fryer? and what kind of camera are u using? The video quality is excellent! Thanks! Nikki

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  16. Hi Nikki,
    Potato is the secret ingredient to make banh cam crunchy. I haven't tried rice flour but will definitely give it a try the next time I make it. I will try half of the batch with rice flour and the other half with potato.

    The brand of my fryer is Kalorik.
    The Camera I have is Sony Cybershot 12.1 mega pixels.

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  17. hi,
    I watched a video to show how to make "banh cam nhan luc lac" on youtube.com. When I deep fried banh cam with medium-low heat oil as instrusted, I entered the problem. The shell of banh cam was expand and popped making it a long shape. I see your banh cam beautiful in both shape and color. I think my problem was from my frying.

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  18. Hi,
    Next time, you might want to increase the heat to Medium-high or make sure the oil is super hot before you fry the banh cam dough.

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  19. Hi Loan,
    Thanks for posting your recipe and video of making Bánh Cam. My friend and I are going to try to make this. Do you use western-style dried shredded coconut from the supermarket in your recipe, or do you use something from the asian market?
    Thanks,
    Michelle

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  20. Hi Michelle, I bought a bag of frozen shredded coconut from an Asian store. WEstern-style dried shredded coconut would be fine too.
    When making green bean, make sure you don't add too much of water, it can get soggy easily.
    Have fun and let me know how it turns out.

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  21. Hi Loan,
    I've never ever made banh cam before and is wondering how much glutinous rice was in the bag you used? I was also wondering about the size of the mung bean bag however you have answered the question earlier stating you use approximately 1 cup. I totally adore your banh cams as they look so cute and perfectly cooked. Will try to make it soon, thanks in advance

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  22. Hello,
    Please could you tell me how much salt is needed for the dough as you said bring the water, salt, sugar and oil to the boil however you did not write salt in the ingredients list, i am dying to make your banh cam, thanks

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  23. Hi,
    I must have added salt in the dough by mistake. There is no salt in the dough. Sorry about that and thanks for pointing it out.
    Have fun making it.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. A bag of Bot Nep contains 16 oz or 1 pound or about 4 1/2 cups.
    Mung Bean - 1 cup should be enough. I made a bag which contains 1 1/2 cups and I still have some left at the end. But you might want to make a whole bag just in case :->

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  26. Hello Loan,

    My wife has been looking for a recipe for banh cam. We'll try your recipe over the Thanksgiving Holiday. The kids and I love banh cam. Wish us luck!

    Thanks,
    Hoang

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  27. Hello Mr Hoang,
    Banh Cam sounds great for this holiday since it has the orange color of Thanksgiving. I might copy your idea and make it for Thanksgiving too :-> Good luck and have fun making it.
    Loan

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  28. The orange color also comes from using coconut palm oil in the dough!!! But this recipe doesnt use it. Coconut palm oil adds flavor and nice nutty coconutty aromoa to the sesame balls along with gorgeous orange color.

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  29. Hi Loan,
    I just wanted to thank you for posting your recipe and instructions. My friend and I made these. The first time they were good, but not perfect. The second time was perfection; we took your advice to make the mung bean mixture dry and got better at the frying time and temperature. We had been cooking them at too high of a temperature. 325 degrees worked great for us. Thanks so much again!

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  30. Hi Michelle,
    I am glad your banh cam turned out beautifully. Um...yummy...just a thought of it make me want some bánh cam. I've been wanting to make it again but at the same time I also have so many new recipes that I am working on.
    Thanks for sharing your results and your experience.

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  31. Hi Loan,

    I followed your recipe and it turned out well but what I am looking for is a much thinner skin. I want a lighter more airy sesame ball. What do you suggest I do ? Should I cut back on the amount of flour used in the recipe ? The ones sold at the grocery store are thin and much more hollow.

    Thank you for your recipe and tips!
    *Jen

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  32. You might want to use less dough for each ball. The banh cam at store usually has very little of mung bean paste in it and their mung bean paste is dry. Store banh cam also doesn't have shredded coconut. You might want to soak the mung bean then steam it instead. You might want to make some with shredded coconut and without just to see the diff. I haven't tried it yet, but I think it might turn out what you want.

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  33. I don't know what went wrong, but mine ball pop, and oil was spatter everywhere. Within the 3 ball, I have to stop and throw it all away. Is it because I used the whole bag of baking powder or because I use the flake potatoe instead of the real thing. Or because I keep stirring it while it frying?

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  34. Sorry to hear that your banh cam didn't turn out right. Too much baking powder might cause that problem. I don't think the flake potato is the problem. Someone left a comment saying that she used potato flake and her banh cam turned out perfect. I don't even think stirring i while frying is the problem either. Since you have the filling already, you might try to make another batch of dough without using a whole bag of baking powder to test it out. Make sure your oil temperature is not too high.

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  35. Hi, I made these using your recipe and it turned out great. Instead of using the potatoe I used the coconut jam from the Asian store. It has nice orange color and still keeps the sesame ball crunchy the next day. I had encounter a little issue when making the dough. I notice that once the dough cools down or gets cold from the warm water, it started to get dried. This makes it hard to form the dough into a ball. Any suggestion on how to fix this little issue will really help, thanks. Looking forward to many more of your new recipes.

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  36. Thanks for sharing your experiment. I will need to look for coconut jam and try it out. I only made banh cam twice. The first time it turned out wonderfully but the second time I failed badly because I didn't really measure the ingredients as I was in a hurry. So, I am not sure how to fix that little issue. Once I try it again, I will let you know.

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  37. I made this a couple of days ago and it turned out great. I did follow the instructions to make the dough as described, but I noticed my dough would not formed into balls at all because it was way too dry. So I kept adding some coconut milk to it until it was able to form balls. I made bite size sizes; the first couple balls I fried turned out a little dark, so I lowered the temp to med, and they turned out golden. I did add a whole pink bag of alsa baking powder, and also used the potato flakes. My balls were really crunchy. I did not get to see if it would still be crunchy after a day cause they were all out by the 1st night. Thanks so much for the recipe!!

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  38. Hi Chi Loan,
    Your receipe are easy to follow and make. Turn out perfect. Thanks

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  39. hello miss loan,i am an avid fans of yours. in my country (phils) we have the same sweets too (its called ... butchi)i have incorporate some of your ingredients to ours and is FANtastic.. my dear readers of miss loan i used the ordinary baking powder. i have tried both the ordinary white potato and the sweet yellow potato... and its both okey to used.mind turn out perfect too.thanks for the good recipe

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  40. Thanks for this perfect, crunchy, soft, coconutty, and heavenly Bahn Cam recipe.

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  41. Hi Loan,
    Thank you for sharing your recipe. I like your electric deep fried so much. Would you please let me know where you bought it? Thank you very much.

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  42. @ BK: I bought the Kalorik deep fried from www.woot.com for half price. It sells only one item at a time until it sold out. There is an amazon link on the right side of my blog, you can search for Kalorik deep fried. Anything you buy from Amazon through my blog, I get commission :-). Thanks

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  43. Hi Loan,
    Thank you very much. I will take a look.
    BK

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  44. Thank You for the recipe! They turned out amazing! You could totally sell these. :)

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