Soft and chewy glutinous rice dumplings or Tang Yuan served in sweet ginger broth is well beloved Asian dessert usually eaten during special occasions.
Happy Dong Zi festival to all of you who are reading this and celebrating it. Dong Zi is a celebration of the arrival of winter. I don’t like winter, but I’m all about celebration with food 😉 I talked in length about this celebration here if you are interested in reading. Tang Yuan are usually made as part of this celebration, though my mom made them for Chinese New Year and our wedding few years ago too.
Like I’ve mentioned many times probably that the Chinese love anything in “round” shape which signify the union in this case. Family gathers together in this event. I’m thousands of miles away from home, but I’ve been making tang yuan every year for my kids so that they are familiar with this celebration too.
They are super easy to make. Only glutinous rice flour, water, and food coloring (if you choose to use). This round, I made the plain one without any stuffing. Few years ago, my mom made some with peanut fillings, which is very delicious and not hard to make too. Last year I made a savory version served in fish maw broth! Love that too!
A short video of how to make the tang yuan from scratch
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Glutinous rice balls (Tang Yuan)
- 10 oz of glutinous rice flour/Mochiko flour
- Start with 1/2 cup of water to about 3/4 you may not need all
- I used red gel food coloring cocoa powder, matcha powder
The sweet ginger broth:
- 4 cups of water
- 2 oz of ginger peeled and cut into several large chunks
- 2 screwpine leaves /pandan knotted
- 1/4 cup sugar or more if you like it sweeter or less if you don't
Making the dough:
Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add in water a bit by a bit and knead with your hands until the dough comes together soft and pliable. If it's too dry, add a bit more water, it shouldn't be too wet that it sticks to your hands or bowl
Separate the doughs into several small doughs, depends on how many colors you want to make, Drop few drops of the coloring and knead with your hand until the color is even on each dough. I found that using the powder coloring will make the dough a bit dry, in this case you can dab your palms with a bit of water and knead the dough. Cover them wet damp cloth or plastic wrapper and let them rest for about 30 minutes
Making the sweet ginger broth:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in ginger, screwpine leaves, and sugar. Bring it back to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer for about 30 minutes. Have a taste and add more sugar if you like
When the doughs are ready:
Work with one dough at a time while keeping the rest covered, knead the dough again and then pinch off some equal size of small doughs and some large ones if you like and place them on a plate lined with clean dry cloth. Once you have those, take one dough and roll them into round balls. If the dough crack when you roll them, just dab a bit of water and roll again and that will fix the problem. Repeat with the rest and cover with damp towel and let them rest for 15 minutes
Cooking the tang yuan:
Bring large pot of water to a boil. When they are rolling boil, add in the tang yuan and let them cook until they float to the top. Use slotted spoon to remove them and submerge them in cold water
Serving the tang yuan:
Portion out the cooked balls into serving bowl and ladle the sweet soup over it and serve
Recipe NotesYou can make the dough up to one day ahead and just cover them well with plastic wrapper (to prevent drying) and leave at room temperature until you are ready to cook the tang yuan the next day Tang yuan are best served the same day they are cooked. They tend to harden when you refrigerate. Of course you can always microwave them to soften again
Screwpine leaves (pandan leaves) are very commonly used in Southeast Asia and so you can see that the sweet ginger broth has been spiked with that flavor as well. The house smells heavenly with the aroma of ginger and pandan leaves in this cold winter. Something comforting and warmth about ginger don’t you just agree?