5 Tangyuan Recipes for Lantern Festival
Lantern Festival, prounounced ‘yuan-xiao jie’ in Chinese mandarin, is the 15th day of the first month in traditional Chinese Calendar, and will be on February the 26th this year. It is also considered the Chinese Valentine’s Day and marks the end of Chinese New Year holiday. Like jiaozi/dumpling, tangyuan is also a symbol of family gathering. The character “yuan” means families or lovers togetherness. Thus people would have tangyuan on Winter Solstice, Chinese New Year, Lantern Festival, or in wedding banquette.
Tangyuan is made with glutinous rice flour as the wrap and usually with sweet fillings, such as red bean paste, sesame paste, or peanut paste. However there are savoury version. Savoury tangyuan is usually bigger riceball with meat filling, which is raw before cooking. It’s particularly popular in east China regions. Cantonese also like to mix tangyuan with tong-sui, such as tangyuan in Black Sesame Sweet Soup, or in Red Bean Sweet Soup. There is also a traditional Cantonese dessert called ‘tong-but-lut’, translated ‘sweet and stick together’. This is tangyuan, usually without filling, poached in syrup then sprinkled with crushed roasted peanuts topping.
Here are some of my tips when preparing tangyuan –
- For the wrap, mix a small portion of wheat starch, sweet potato flour or all-purpose flour in glutionous rice flour. This can make the wrap a little less sticky on your mouth;
- Set the filling in freezer after rolling them into small balls. This makes the later wrapping easier;
- Tong-sui is sweet, so when adding tangyuan in tong-sui, I usually prepare those without filling. Just to roll the wrap dough into tiny riceballs. You could flavour such small riceballs with sweet osmanthus, or mashed pumpkin, other sweet vegetable or fruit juice;
- Uncooked tangyuan should be kept in freezer. Dust a thin layer of glutinous rice flour on them to prevent them sticking together. Don’t defrost frozen tangyuan before poaching, just put in boiling water, once they float on water surface, add extra cup of cold water, bring to boil again and poach for a few more minutes. Tangyuan would expand when cooked thoroughly.
Marbled Tangyuan, Black Sesame Filling
Savoury Tang Yuan, Chicken and Mushroom Filling
Taro and mini Tang Yuan in Ginger infused Syrup
Classic Cantonese dessert – Healthy Black Sesame Sweet Soup with Small Tang Yuan
Pumpkin Tong But Lut, Cantonese style Tang Yuan