I Like Me Some Sweet Sticky Balls. Tong Yun, A Chinese Dessert.

I’ve never been much a sweet tooth kind of person, but one thing I’m always a sucker for, are Asian desserts. One of my favorites are these sticky rice/ glutinous rice balls filled with a sweet – usually nut, seed or bean based – filling. It can be served in a coconut or ginger syrup or sometimes dusted in potato starch or coconut flakes, like a powdered donut. Either way, it’s just chewy, gooey amazing goodness- that’s not overly sweet.

Now that I’m off work and getting ready for my little Human, I have more time to do “me” stuff again. Art, cooking and exercise.

This weeks addiction was making these little sweet balls and holy smokes are they way easier than I thought. I’m never buying them again! (You can typically buy them frozen in Asian food stores, but it’s not the same as fresh – obviously).

When I was a kid, I would just wish with all my might that for dessert at the chinese restaurant they would have these. Back in the day it was a little more common after a big banquet dinner but more often than not you either got oranges or red bean dessert. Maybe once every couple years a restaurant would pull these bad boys out!

It’s very common for Chinese culture to serve theses kinds of “soup desserts.” Called “tong sui.” Which directly translated is actually “sugar water.”

They can range from being hot or cold. Having an almond, coconut, red bean, green bean or ginger base and can have random things in it like taro, soft seeds and nuts, young coconut, and sometimes Tong Yun. Sweet Sticky Balls!!

Tong Yun Recipe

This recipe calls for more feel than measurements. I gave rough measurements but really everything is to taste. If you like things sweet add more sugar, if you don’t then add less. Be creative and let your inner cook take over! If you make a mistake it’s easy enough and quick enough you can start over !


2 Parts Glutinous Rice Flour (Make sure you don’t just buy the normal rice flour or else you will have hard balls instead of chewy balls *winky face)

1 Part warm Water

Sugar (to taste)

E.g. (1Cup Glutinous Rice flour: 1/2C water : 2tbsp sugar)

*consistency of the dough is tricky to figure out at first. Depending on your location; humidity and type of water can vary the recipe. What you want is a nice silky texture that doesn’t stick to your fingers or crack when rolling it into balls. Kind of feels like a marshmallow.

Filling (mix and match or do whatever you want!) :

Shredded Coconut

Toasted sesame seeds

Black sesame paste (I made my own but you can buy this)

Brown Sugar or White Sugar or Honey

Crushed peanuts (I used candies peanuts because it’s what I had)

Soup/ syrup base:

1 Part Brown sugar

1 Part sliced Ginger

4 Parts Water

(Eg. 1/4 Brown Sugar: 1/4c ginger : 1C Water)

Optional (Add coconut milk/ almond powder)


1. Make the dough. Mix the glutinous rice flour, sugar and warm water together.

2. Create a ball of dough about 1.5-2″ in diameter. Make a hole in the ball and fill with your choice of filling. Gently pinch it closed and roll back into a ball. Set aside on a cookie sheet without the balls contacting each other.

Sometimes I’ll line the cookie sheet with wax paper or foil or just grease the sheet so the balls don’t stick.

3. In a small pot make the syrup or soup by boiling 1Part Ginger : 1 Part Brown Sugar : 4Parts water. Bring to a boil and let simmer until ready to serve.

Eg (1/4Cup sliced ginger: 1/4C Brown Sugar :1c Water)

4. In a medium pot of boiling water drop the balls in and cook until they float. (Approx 3- 5min)

5. Transfer floating balls into a bowl and pour the syrup over it to serve! Sprinkle with leftover filling if desired.

Enjoy! Let me know how it goes and share your yummy twist to the recipe! I’m stuffing mine with a creamy mango filling next time.

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