This light Korean snack highlights the chewiness and natural sweetness of sweet rice flour. Boiled until floating, sweet rice balls are really easy to prepare and has endless variations. Dry coatings such as sesame seeds, roasted soybean powder, and cinnamon sugar cling readily to its surface. Gyung dan can also be stuffed with sweet fillings such as red bean paste, as demonstrated in this excellent video by Maangchi.
Plain uncoated rice balls are also extensively used in several sweet and savory applications from all over Asia. My preference by way of heritage is a warm bowl of Filipino ginataan, rice balls and fruits cooked in sweetened coconut milk.
recipe adapted from Hi Soo Shin Hepinstall’s Growing Up in a Korean Kitchen
Korean Sweet Rice Balls
makes 16 hazelnut-sized rice balls
Don’t let your parole officer see this.
1 cup sweet rice flour (approximately 160 grams / 5.65 ounces)
a pinch of salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup boiling water
- Black or white sesame seeds, toasted until fragrant and popping (whole or ground)
- Roasted soybean powder
- Cinnamon sugar
- Sweet rice flour is also known as glutinous rice flour or mochiko, its Japanese moniker.
- I prefer to use the smaller amount (1/3 cup) of boiling water to make a sandy and crumbly dough. It will be a bit harder to form the balls but the resulting texture is more to my liking — the outside will be soft and gets progressively chewier towards the center.
Mix the sweet rice flour and salt in a bowl. Add the boiling water one tablespoon at time while stirring vigorously. Depending on the texture desired, adjust the amount of water to create either a crumbly or soft dough (see Notes).
Crumbly sweet rice flour dough.
Divide the dough into 16 portions and shape into hazelnut-sized balls.
Bring at least 8 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Prepare a large bowl filled with iced water. The iced water will be used to instantly chill the cooked rice balls and stop the cooking.
Drop the sweet rice balls into the boiling water one at a time. Boil over high heat until the balls float to the surface. It will take about 6 to 10 minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to gather the sweet rice balls as they float to the surface and place in the bowl of iced water.
Place the rice balls on paper towels and let dry briefly for a few minutes. Roll in the toppings of your choice and serve.
Black and blue balls of sweet rice flour.