Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tangyuan - Traditional chinese rice balls in Soup

We celebrated the Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice festival yesterday. Traditionally, this festival is to celebrate the change of the season; it marks the end of the extreme of Winter (in the northern hemisphere) and from this point onwards, the days will be increasingly longer. However, here in the Southern Hemisphere we will find the days getting shorter and shorter.

On the Dōngzhì Festival, we make the traditional Tangyuan, literally translated it means 'ball in soup'. Though ready-made ones are easily available, we prefer to make them from scratch. It lends to the festive spirit and it is simple to make.

  • 1 cup glutinous rice flour
  • 4 ounces water
  • Fresh ginger, small piece about 3 cm, crushed
  • Sugar
  1. Place flour in the large mixing bowl
  2. Gradually mix in the water until the mixture gains a dough-consistency; you may not need all the water
  3. Knead the dough for 5 minutes
  4. Pinch off small pieces of the dough and roll them into balls, traditionally it is preferred to have some small and some big ones
  5. Put a pot of water to boil
  6. Drop the balls into the boiling water
  7. When the balls float up, scoop them out and set aside in a bowl with water at room temperature.
  8. Prepare the syrup soup by boiling the sugar and ginger in a pot.
  9. Serve the glutinous rice balls with the syrup soup.
Things can get a bit more complicated when you start adding colours or putting fillings in the rice balls. It reminds me very much of the commercialization of our traditional food. You can find technicolor balls with myriad option of fillings in the Asian grocery store.

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