Vietnamese mochi balls with dark palm sugar filling (bánh trôi)

{Delicious Vietnam #9}

Vietnamese mochi balls (bánh trôi)

My grandmother must have been secretly worried about my marriage prospect when I was younger. I climbed trees, fought with the boys and refused to learn knitting or sewing. Oh well, at least I did learn how to cook. But even that led to a lot of disagreement!

The thing was, my grandmom lived in a village north of Hanoi. Her style of cooking was truly (Vietnamese) peasant style. Living through the two big wars, she also got into the habit of cooking simply, economically and never wasting anything. Ever! I once tried to cook Chinese tea eggs using gas cook top and she was astonished! What, hours of simmering, wasting so much gas (which was insanely expensive at the time) just to get some marbled effects on boiled eggs? Thankfully my wonderful father always stepped in at the right time to prevent any ill feelings or unnecessary arguments. And you know, family, we do argue over silly things, even boiled eggs.

Of course after all, I do love my grandmother´s cooking. Her food, simple as it may seem, is wonderful with all the flavours I am familiar with. But, a big but, I am sure I can make better bánh trôi (Vietnamese mochi dumplings) than her.

Vietnamese mochi balls (bánh trôi)

Bánh trôi is pretty popular in northern Vietnam. It´s our version of mochi dumplings, filled with dark palm sugar, and sprinkled with a mixture of freshly grated coconut and sesame seeds. Usually, it is paired with bánh chay, which is another kind of mochi dumplings, but with mung-bean filling and served in thick syrup.  In my home, bánh trôi is known as Vietnamese ondeh-ondeh. heh.

The trick to make good bánh trôi is really in the ratio of glutinous rice flour and normal rice flour to make the skin. My grandmom used 100% glutinous rice flour, but it yields heavier mochi. The ones sold at the shop are chewy, but with a bite to them. I learned from a friend a long time back that the ratio of 9:1 is just perfect. Tried and tested by me!

I wonder what my grandmother would day if she saw my pink bánh trôi. Actually, I can predict. She would go on for hours on how food coloring was bad for you. True, I didn´t disagree. But I bet she could never go crazy over cute and colorful macaroons like us? 😀

This is my entry to Delicious Vietnam #9. This edition is hosted by Indonesian Eats. More details can be found here.

Vietnamese mochi balls (bánh trôi)

Vietnamese mochi balls with dark palm sugar filling (bánh trôi)

Pay attention to the kind of sugar here. I used dark plam sugar, which is rather soft and intense in flavours. The normal palm sugar from Thailand, which is pale in color, is not suitable. 

{Printable recipe}

Ingredients – [corrected!]
180g glutinous rice flour
20g rice flour
Around 200ml warm water
Filling: 100-150g dark plam sugar, chopped into ½ inch squares
Pan roasted sesame seeds, to sprinkle
Prepare the dough first: mix the two types of flours together. Slowly add in the water, mixing until the dough comes together and is smooth and elastic. Cover and rest.
Pinch a little dough, put 1 piece of sugar in the middle, and then roll into a small ball (size of a marble). Repeat with the rest.
Boil some water in a big pot. Fill another bowl with cold water.
When the water is boiled, add the mochi balls in batches. Bring the water to the boil. The mochi balls are cooked when they are floated to the surface of the pot. Using a slotted spoon, take them out and put them into the bowl of cold water immediately. Repeat with the rest.
Arrange the balls onto small plates. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. These mochi balls are best eaten on the same day they are made.

Note: if you are after the marbled pink mochi balls, color ½ of the dough with food coloring, then pair two colors when rolling the balls.

44 Responses to Vietnamese mochi balls with dark palm sugar filling (bánh trôi)

  1. Michelle Chin says:

    I like reading about the backstory for this post – the grandmother bit. I guess the way one cooks and eats reflects one's life in a way. Your grandma is frugal with cooking because she lived through war. I try to cook healthy because diabetes , lupus and high cholestrol runs in the family tree.

  2. Hannah says:

    Oh my, those photos make me smile! So gorgeous :) I've only had the Japanese style mochi before, with red bean fillings. Would love to have had a grandma who made me the palm sugar version!

  3. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    Ooh I love ondeh-ondeh so I'm sure I will love these as well. 😀

  4. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Wow a very innovative and interesting recipe! Never heard and tasted this cute colored balls before. Would love to try my hands on them.

  5. shaz says:

    Sounds delicious, and so very pretty! Coincidentally, I just made glutinous rice balls too. Will try this version next time :) Cute story about your grandmother.

  6. Shirley @ Kokken69 says:

    It was about 2 weeks ago when we celebrated the 'arrival of winter' on the Chinese calendar? This is the last festival before we usher in Chinese new year and mochi balls like these are the main item of celebration… Yours look very similar :)

  7. La Table De Nana says:

    I enjoyed the story also:)

  8. Faith says:

    These are so beautiful with the marbled pink color, Anh. Truly a masterpiece that I bet is every bit as delicious as it is lovely!

  9. Les rêves d'une boulangère (Brittany) says:

    Hi there,

  10. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    What a colorful, delicious treat. Always love when you share the traditional dishes of Vietnam. I just tasted some delicious claypot rice at a nearby restaurant and am kicking myself for not trying Vietnamese food sooner!

  11. kewpie says:

    excellent photography, anhs! and yeah, this is like our version of ondeh ondeh… i like the colours you have in the vietnamese one… playful and yummy (palm sugar)!

  12. El says:

    Great story and lovely photos. They look incredible!

  13. OohLookBel says:

    Your bánh trôi look gorgeous, like sweet little radishes. Must keep a lookout for them in the shops :)

  14. Indonesia Eats says:

    I remember the day I asked you about the flour's ratio. Yours looks so pretty

  15. Pegasuslegend says:


  16. Christine@Christine's Recipes says:

    Lovely colours! Everybody has her/his own way to cooking. I understand the on-going struggling issues happen in every family. :)

  17. Monet says:

    I loved hearing about your grandmother…and your own childhood. And then of course, these mochi balls are just too pretty for words! Thank you so much for sharing them with me.

  18. Maricel says:

    Hi! Are the amount of the flours correct or is it a typo because the ratio would not be 9:1

  19. penny aka jeroxie says:

    So very pretty. I must get back into the Delicious Vietnam series. :)

  20. Johanna GGG says:

    frivious? yes but it doesn't hurt to play with your food occasionally and to enjoy it as much as you do!

  21. Little Corner of Mine says:

    I love the pretty pink and white combo. So sweet looking.

  22. john@heneedsfood says:

    Food colouring or not, these little babies are beautiful!

  23. Howard says:

    These remind me of the dumplings my mum makes during Chinese New Year with the ginger syrup, is it similar in texture? Like the recipe too, I asked my mum how to make and he just rambled on saying she just wings it!

  24. Anh says:

    Maricel, thanks for pointing my mistakes out :)

  25. Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! says:

    Oh this is one I am unfamiliar with, mum seems to make all types of sweets ranging from south to north but I don't ever recall seeing these. Might have to quiz her when she gets back from her trip to North Vietnam 😉

  26. Juliana says:

    Oh! I love mochi balls, but never had it with palm sugar filling…it is a must try. Love the color of these little treats :-)

  27. Hannah says:

    What pretty colors! I'm also a fan of mochi, so I have a feeling I would love this dessert. :)

  28. Vivienne says:

    yum!! i need to try adding rice flour next time to my glutinous flour! love the presentation too :)

  29. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    HAHA "..but I am sure I can make better bánh trôi than her." So funny Anh!

  30. Jamie says:

    I love the story and it sounds so much like my husband's mother! (Her family lived through 2 world wars, lost everything then started over twice. Frugal to the max! She thinks we are crazy and wasteful I am sure!) I love the balls and think they are gorgeous and would melt your grandmother's heart!

  31. Dimah says:

    These look so amazing!!

  32. veron says:

    now i miss grandma's cooking. My grandmother also cooked peasant dishes as my grandpa was a farmer and as such would always scold me if I wasted anything or kept the lights on. I'm sure she will be proud of your mochi balls. :)

  33. Tangled Noodle says:

    I don't need much prompting to eat dozens of mochi balls, but these are almost too pretty to eat! Though she might have been dubious of the food coloring, your grandmother would be proud of what you've made! 😎

  34. deb says:

    yum, they look really good. As a hardcore sweet tooth, these would go down a treat!

  35. Jo says:

    Very pretty mochi balls. I really like the colour.

  36. Kris Ngoei says:

    I am holding my breath enjoying the sight of these mochi ball photographs, just delightful and gorgeous :-)

  37. tigerfish says:

    So pretty! very dainty too! I don't think I have tried Vietnamese mochi balls.

  38. Soma says:

    :-) your grandmother sounds very sweet, very much like mine. not even wasting a grain of rice.

  39. Sheena says:

    I've only had the japanese mochi, but these look and sound just as good. I love the colours here, and the sesame seed palm sugar combination sounds lovely. And I feel exactly the same way about my grandmother's cooking :)

  40. lequan says:

    Wow, these look so pretty and yummy! I'm a big fan of Vietnamese food, but have not had many Vietnamese desserts. Looks like I'm missing out. Grandmas always make such wonderful food. Thanks for stopping by my blog so I could find yours, and thanks for sharing these!

  41. Min {Honest Vanilla} says:

    Hi Anh, when do you add the colouring? How does it become pale pink with white?

  42. vietfoodrecipes says:

    They look beautiful, Anh.

  43. Lea says:

    They look amazing! Great with the pink coloring. I have never has mochi!

  44. Vietnam Insight says:

    Hi Anh,

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