When I was a small kid… around 4 or 5. My grandaunt used to buy sweet potato balls from an elderly neighbour for my breakfast. This neighbour, whom we call as “Sou Cheh 苏姐’ is a single lady, in her 70’s with an adopted son. She sells traditional Cantonese snacks in the market, like sweet potato balls, jeen doy (煎堆 sesame balls) and dan shan (蛋散 syrupy egg crackers) to make a living.
In those days, I remember it was 10 sen for 3. Small marble sized balls, with red bean filling. Her life is hard… and I do remember her house with a hay roof,and chickens running around indoors and outdoors. Every day, Grandaunt goes to her house to chat after our early dinner, and when it’s time for her to make her goodies, we must leave her house and she will close the doors to protect her trade secrets. It’s understandable. No one feels offended.
But after the neighbour stopped selling due to her old age… I no longer had these.
After many years, I had sweet potato balls again .. in Cameron Highlands. But they don’t taste the same! They are chewy!
Then I saw Lena making sweet potato balls and they aren’t kneaded with starch! Could it be the one I am looking for?
Sweet Potato Balls with Red Bean Filling 红豆番薯蛋
250gm steamed orange sweet potato, room temp*
65gm sugar (if sweet potato is sweet, use less)
65gm plain flour
180gm red bean filling
flour for dusting
oil for frying
1. Mash the steamed sweet potatoes with sugar. Set aside.
2. Roll red bean filling into 5-6gm balls.
3. Mix the mashed potatoes with flour. Divide into 15-16gm balls.
4. With lightly floured hands, flatten each dough ball and wrap a piece of red bean filling.
5. Heat oil to 140-150C. (Medium low heat)
6. Fry the balls until they no longer sink to the bottom (half afloat) **
*Put peeled sweet potatoes directly on a steaming rack. Steam until they are cooked and soft all the way through. Remove from the steamer and let them cool down, exposed. This way, they won’t be as wet. This method only applies to orange sweet potatoes as they are usually very moist.
**If you form them at 3g filling, 8g dough, the balls will float when cooked.