The Dough Game: Taro & Sweet Potato Glutinous Balls

The Dough Game: Taro & Sweet Potato Glutinous Balls

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I was never a big fan of "liquid meals" - soups, oatmeal, congee, etc. In particular "tong shui," literally meaning "sugar water," is one of the most loved desserts in the Guang Dong province that I almost never make. There is a large variety of sweet soups, like the black sesame paste soup, walnut cream soup, or silk sweetened tofu, but like other liquid foods, I always find them too filling too soon and can never finish a bowl to myself.

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Today is a rare occasion because my carb-loving sister specifically requested these chewy glutinous balls after being inspired by an Instagram therapy. Incidentally, we are having hot pot, which often ends with a bowl of sweet soup to "reduce the heat in your body." These glutinous balls are actually made with tapioca flour, which gives it the chewiness. They are often found in Taiwanese night markets, floating in a sweet soup or shaved ice of your choice. I used taro and yellow sweet potatoes but the purple variety also yield a beautiful blue-violet dough. The sweet soup base tonight is a sago sweet soup, lightly sweetened with rock sugar and a touch of coconut milk.

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SAGO SWEET SOUP WITH TARO & SWEET POTATO GLUTINOUS BALLS

Serves 4-6. Adapted and translated from this and this recipe.

For the sweet soup:

100g sago
500ml water plus more for cooking sago
~60g rock sugar
200g coconut milk

For the glutinous balls:

180g taro, peeled and diced
180g sweet potato, peeled and sliced
50-60g tapioca flour (use a proportion of 30%-35% flour)

  1. Place the taro and sweet potato in separate bowls and steam for 15-20 minutes, or until soft. Mash with a fork, and leave some larger pieces if you like some bit in your dough.
  2. Slowly add the tapioca flour, and mix until it forms a dough. If it’s too dry, add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together and becomes pliable.
  3. Using your palms, divide the dough into a long strips and roll until it has a round cross section. It may start to crack so be very gentle. Cut the strips into little pieces, around 1 cm long. Dust a layer of tapioca flour to prevent the balls sticking together.
  4. Cook in a large pot of boiling water until the balls float to the top and puff up a little. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and rest in a bowl.
  5. For the sweet soup, place water in a medium-sized pot and heat on medium-high heat until boiled. Add in the sago and wait until it boils again. Once boiled, turn off the heat and cover for around 20 minutes, or until the centre is almost cooked through. You can tell by seeing a small spot of uncooked white in the centre of the transparent ball.
  6. Pour the sago over a sieve to get rid of extra water. In another pot, boil 500ml water and rock sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add in sago and boil until the centre is fully cooked. Pour in coconut milk and heat until warmed through. Serve with glutinous balls.
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