Dish of Fried Yam Balls with Dip
(click to enlarge)

Curried Yam Balls

40 balls  
2 hrs  

These small balls are an excellent snack or appetizer, both tasty and attractive - and you can be pretty sure nobody else will be bringing these. Despite the number of notes below, they are easy to make and are very well behaved in the oil. See Handling below for hints on managing them if doing ahead.


-- Balls
Yams (real) (1)  
Ginger Root
Palm Sugar (2)
Curry Powder (3)
Glutinous Rice Flour (4)  
Sesame Seeds (5)
Oil, deep fry (6)
-- Serve With
Tuk Trey dip (7)
Simple Dip Sauce (8)
Prep   -   (1-1/2 hrs - 40 min work)
  1. Peel YAMS and cut into cubes. Place in a pan with water to cover and bring to a boil. Simmer until quite soft, about 25 minutes. Let cool for handling.
  2. Grate GINGER ROOT.
  3. Mash Yams very smooth, then mash together all Ball items. Work it into a stiff dough. Let it sit for 20 minutes or so to adjust (it'll get a bit stickier).
  4. Adjust dough stickiness. Cautiously add a little water if too dry, a little more rice flour if too wet. The correct stickiness is not sticky enough to stick to your hands as you roll balls, but sticky enough to easily pick up a coating of Sesame Seeds.
  5. Form Dough into small balls, about 1 inch diameter. Roll in Sesame Seeds until well coated. Set them out on a tray in a single layer.
Run   -   (30 min)
  1. In a Kadhai, wok or deep pan, heat enough Oil for deep frying to 375° to 400°F (190° to 200°C). Fry Balls in batches of no more than 10 until they float well - then another minute. They will expand a little, but not a lot. Keep the temperature below 400°F. If you get blow-outs, you have cooked a little too long for your temperature. Balls that have suffered a blow-out are still perfectly good to eat, just a little lighter.
  2. Fish out with your Spider and drain on paper towels. Let them cool to room temperature. They hold a lot of heat inside for quite a while.
  3. Serve with Tuk Trey or Simple Dipping Sauce. They are usually stuck with skewers to make them easier to dip.
  1. Yams:   The pattern recipe called for "Sweet Potato", but the photos clearly show Purple Yam, which is quite sweet. White Yams might need a bit more sugar in the recipe. American orange "Yams" are are actually Sweet Potatoes, but should work OK. Real yams are available from Asian markets, white and purple. For details see our Morning Glory / Yam page.
  2. Palm Sugar   This is available in pretty much all Southeast and East Asian markets. I buy it granulated or in lumps of about 1 Tablespoon each. If you don't have it, use a lightly refined sugar such as Turbinado. See also Comments.
  3. Curry Powder:   The pattern recipe calls for "Indian Curry Powder" without definition. Lets just presume Madras curry powder (invented by the English) will do. Ship brand and Sun brand are good and widely available - or make it better from our recipe Madras Curry Powder.
  4. Glutinous Rice Flour: [Sweet Rice Flour] (Contains no Gluten). This flour is different from regular Rice Flour, and provides a unique chewy texture to many sweets and the like. It is available from most Asian markets, usually imported from Thailand, but also made in California (Koda Farms).
  5. Sesame Seeds:   You will need a lot of White Sesame Seeds. Best place to get them is a Korean market where quick turnover assures freshness and they are relatively inexpensive in 1/2 pound containers.
  6. Oil:   Use a fairly neutral high temperature oil. I recommend Olive Pomace for health and durability.
  7. Tuk Trey Dip:   This is an indispensable Cambodian condiment and ingredient, nearly identical to Vietnamese Nuoc Cham. It is easy to make by our recipe Tuk Trey.
  8. Simple Dipping Sauce:   This is a simple, every-day dipping sauce that is quite serviceable, and can be put together in 5 minutes. See our recipe Simple Dipping Sauce.
  9. Handling:   These balls are partially hollow, and the inside remains jelly-like, so they are easily deformed. When making them ahead, keep them in a single layer. I recommend plastic clamshells, available at Smart & Final or other restaurant supplies (see Photos). These will keep them safe, and they can even be kept refrigerated for a few days - the outside will be a little bit more leathery, but they are still just fine.
  10. Comments   As with so many Asian recipes, I have cut the sugar in half to better fit Western tastes. Personally, using sweet Purple Yams, I could do without any sugar at all, but others may think otherwise. Adjust to your own taste, and the sweetness of your Yams.
  11. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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