Monday, November 10, 2008

Flora's Chi Fa Bun

Chi fa buns

Once in a while, you come upon a perfect recipe, so good that nothing out there can compare. This is one of those rare recipes. It makes better chi fa buns than any store-bought ones. I am nearly reluctant to give the recipe away but because my friend Flora (one of the top 3 cooks I know) so willingly shared her recipe, so will I. The only thing I ask is that you give Flora credit for it; I've noticed that once a recipe is out there on the net, it's anybody's loot.Change the amount of sugar or oil and suddenly it's 'my recipe'.

I googled for chi fa bun to check what the English name for this Chinese snack is called, but couldn't find anything. This sweet snack is available everywhere in Malaysia for breakfast or tea time. My ex-colleagues taught me the Hakka name (trust it to the Hakkas to call a spade a spade) for these glutinous rice balls, and it is a hilarious name that refers to a part of the male anatomy when powdered. I needn't go on because I'm told many times that children read this blog. Does anyone know what these snacks are called in Mandarin?

Chi fa bun is really Chinese mochi with a peanut-sugar filling. Sold for about 70 sen a piece, chi fa bun is a yummy snack that you can easily make at home. I once made 120 chi fa buns for a church bazaar, all in less than 2 hours. Not only are they easy to make, the powdery balls (what else can I call them) are inexpensive and quite light in calories.

The freshest peanut brittle from Tawau

I prefer a slightly firmer and less sweet version so I've given my adapted recipe besides Flora's . You can make the filling from peanut brittle like I do, or you can toast some peanuts, pound or grind them up and add fine sugar.


Chi Fa Bun
2 3/4 cups* glutinous rice flour...)
2 3/4 cups water .........................)...'A'
3/4 cups fine sugar**..................)
extra glutinous rice
2 cups peanut brittle, pounded or grounded

*I prefer a slightly firmer bite so I use 3 cups
**I use 1/4 cup but this may not be sweet enough for some

1. Mix & steam 'A' in a cake tin for 20 to 25 minutes under medium-high heat. Meanwhile, bake the extra glutinous rice flour for 5 to 7 minutes, making sure it doesn't brown (this is so you don't eat raw glu rice flour, which may taste, well, raw. However, store-bought chi fa buns are packed in unbaked glu rice flour; they just don't bother and that's why store-bought chi fa buns don't taste as good as these). Pound, crush or grind the peanut brittle (depending on whether you want a fine or coarser filling) or make your own peanut filling with roasted peanuts and fine sugar.

When batter is done, let it cool 1 minute.

2. While still hot, drop the sticky dough by the spoonful (use another spoon to scrape the sticky dough off) onto the baked flour and make sure the dough is coated all over.

3. Use your flour-dusted fingers to stretch the cooked dough into flat rounds. Don't make the wrapping rounds too thick (will taste too doughy) or thin (will break & filling will spill out). Put a large spoonful of peanut filling into the center, gather the sides up and pinch to seal well. Roll in the baked flour so it doesn't stick to other balls. Makes 20 to 25 balls.



IheartNY said...

they're called "noh mi chi". they're also found coated in peanuts on the outside. usually they're smaller and sometimes a bit more firmer in texture.

there's many variations in the outside coating, and now it's common to find different fillings too. for instance, ground black sesame filling. and sometimes it's rolling in finely diced coconut too.

daomingsi said...

Mix & steam 'A' in a cake tin for 20 to 25 minutes

Sorry, but may I know what is 'A'?

triShie said...

ps: just a quick note to say i voted for you too! :)

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

iheartny: is tt in mandarin?? 'noh mi' is glutinous rice but what does chi fa bun mean, do u know?

daomingsi: oops, in my recipe book, the 3 items are grouped as 'A' but i couldn't/forgot to group them.

trishie: thanx dear, i saw. *hugs* :))

a feast, everyday said...

vote u for wat? the president of united states of malaysia?
me n my mum's favorite snacks, never thought of using peanut brittles for the filling but hv tried black sesame seeds paste n they were good.

MJ said...

hello from down under, perth! I hope you don't mind me asking.."bake the flour for..etc.." what is this flour, you are refering to?

(i am sooo going to try this recipe out!!)

ganache-ganache said...

When I first came to KK & hubby explained what the Hakka name means, I was laughing non-stop !!!

ganache-ganache said...

BTW, what is the temperature to bake the xtra glu rice flour or can I just fry it in a dry wok ??

Lily Anette said...

I want to make this! Credits also go to you for taking such a tempting picture of it!Very good stuff.

Nessie said...

Oh my gosh these look amazing Terri! There's a yum cha place near me that serve these filled with durian cream...divine! :)

IheartNY said...

"chi fa" means sticky rice (or glutinous rice) in cantonese

what is tt?

IheartNY said...

just re-read your post and realized that you were asking for mandarin version. since this is a guanghzou region snack, i know it by its cantonese name. will ask my mum since she will know.

MJ said...

Hey you guys! I've made this yummy dessert! Sooo easy to make and my kids love it! Bento-ed some for their lunch boxes this morning!! WooHoo!!

b said...

Thanks so much for posting this recipe!!! yummy yummy....

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...


if i am president of such, i would:

1. change the education system. eliminate subjects such as (malaysian-biased) sejarah, siviks, kemahiran hidup n morals. replace with one general knowledge subject tt makes sense!
make tuition illegal. teachers will be teachers n paid well n not have to moonlight off hours.students will have a more active life: more extra curricular n lab work n projects n outings.
all cyber cafes to have a guard against school children going in.

2. eliminate racism n discrimination.n ISA.

3. plant trees, rehabilitate oil palm plantations into timber forests n make it compulsory for every family to grow some veg.

4.the list goes on. still want me as president of the mistreated states of malaysia?

mj: hi, i'm happy ur family likes the chi fa buns. now u can sell them to ur local asian stores :D

ganache: if u have a baby boy, u'll see the resemblance :DD

i just bake it in my toaster oven. i think about 150 is ok, as long as the flour is cooked lightly n not browned.

lily: make some today!

nessie: i'm obsessed with making durian chi fa buns ever since u told me. how was the filling like? not too firm, not too soft?

heartny:is there a mandarin version? i would love to know. 'tt' is my short form for 'that':D

b: how about making some this fri??

Nessie said...

Oh I must take some photos next time I have them and send them to you! :) The filling tastes like a mixture of sweetened whipped cream and durian. The skin is a wee bit thinner than the ones in your picture and they have a bit at the bottom that looked like its been twisted (a bit like a shao long bao). The overall texture is a very soft squidgy wee sack of durian bite and its like a cloud of durian in your mouth - very light and not rich at all. They really are SO delicious...I always order a whole tray of just 3 for myself! AND we only frozen durian here in New Zealand so I think they would be even more amazing with fresh stuff! Have been trying to work out how to make them for AGES so if you work it out please let me know!!! :)

Precious Pea said...

I call this Loh Mai it and i always ended up with 'white lips'.

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

nessie: u ahve a wonderful way of describing food: i'm hungry for some durian mochis!send me a pic, promise ok

pp: welcome back :)) yes, i get powder on the corners of my mouth too.

mj: was thinking, tt was really quick of u to try the recipe out.i know how it feels when u make smthing for the 1st time n its a huge success *hugs*

MJ said...

Hi Terri..yes, I figured out (du'h)what flour in "bake the flour" you were refering to. The bunch I made last night are all GONE and now my 4 year old is asking me for "some more of those yummy sticky white balls"... :-) Thanks for sharing the recipe!!

Yhwa said...

Woo.. Amazing.. This is one of my fav food back in KK. I'm going to try to make it this sunday and bring it to the office. Hahaha.. I guess ang-mo have no idea what is this!! :P Thanks for the recipe!!!

Anonymous said...

My mum also calls it "lo mi chi" and says that she used it find it only in cantonese style bakeries.


Yhwa said...

Hi Hi.. Can i know if i keep this overnight will it be ok??? Cause i'm planning to do it on Sunday and bring to office on Monday. But not sure if i can do that.. :P Thx...

Terri @ A Daily Obsession said...

Yhwa: sorry, nearly 4got to reply u.yes u can keep it in the fridge overnight. it will get firmer but upon coming to room temp it will soften again.however, the longer u keep it (like for many days), the firmer it will get.

Nessie said...

Hello again Terri! I've booked in for yum cha this weekend so will hopefully have the durian pics for you!! Also...I've done some digging around on the internet as to how they get that creamy filling into the lo mei chi without it turning into a mess and I think the answer lies in the Mochi icecream/mochi cream technique: where they freeze the filling (sweet whipped cream with durian mash) in domes before wrapping in the skin. Refreezing then defrosting just before serving. Kinda makes sense seeing as we only get frozen durian down under :)

wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

In Perak, we call these "Lor Mai Chee" And my hometown makes it green, with fresh pandan.
I've heard some called it filled Muachee, Penang's muachee is of which the dough skin is torn in small pieces and rolled in peanuts and sugar. A much easier version to do.

Anonymous said...

Hi are you able to post a video on how to make chi fa bun?

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