Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tang Yuan (Sweet Glutinous dumplings) 汤圆

Yesterday 22nd December was what we Chinese call 冬 至which is translated in Englih as Winter Solstice. On this day in Northern hemisphere is the shortest day and longest night but we over in the Southern hemisphere experience the longest day and the shortest night of the year instead. Chinese believe after today the day will get longer and longer and this generates"Yang qi" a.ka. Positive forces so it should be celebrated. Hence, to some Chinese especially those in the mainland China, celebration for this day is even more important than the Chinese New Year (冬至大过年). If you are keen to find out more on the history, I will leave it to the experts to do the explanation, here's the link.

Frankly I didn't understand the reason of celebration until I wrote this post. What in my memory since I was a small kid was on this day my mum would make Tang Yuan (glutinous dumplings) and asked us to eat. She said once we ate the Tang Yuan then we would get older by a year. I couldn't believe I did buy her saying when I was small and ate as many as I could so I could grow up faster. But I doubt I would want to eat any now if the saying is true! J

Tang Yuan (Sweet Glutinous dumplings)  汤圆
There are mainly two types of Tang Yuan one with filling and another without, which was the one I used to eat since I was small. Tang Yuan is not difficult to make at all, in fact it is the easiest Chinese dessert to make. Still, we got it wrong for the first time when I made this with hubby.

The first year when we were married, we did not go back to home town to celebrate with our parents. Hence, he suggested making Tang Yuan on our own as he is a Tang Yuan fan. At that time I had little knowledge about cooking. I wasn't sure what flour to use for the Tang Yuan and suggested to ask mother-in-law for advice, but JS said he knew how to make it. I still could recall we spent whole night kneading the dough, added coloring to the dough and kneaded into many nice colorful round balls, but when we boiled them, the rice balls could not float even after being boiled for a long time (cooked Tang Yuan would float). In the end we realized we had produced a whole pot of bouncy rice balls instead of sticky chewy Tang Yuan, but why?

Then we decided to give my mother-in-law a call to find out why. Only then we realized we had used the wrong flour to make Tang Yuan! We had used rice flour instead of glutinous flour! This is the biggest joke that I always tease him all the time. How bouncy the rice balls we had you might ask? If you run out of ping pong balls then you can try to make this as replacement J

Well, this time with Auntie Ah Lan around, we won't end up with bouncy rice balls, in fact we get to enjoy the real authentic Malaysian style Tang Yuan, nice round glutinous dumplings in sweet rock sugar soup. This recipe that I'm sharing is without filling, which is very basic and can be prepared anytime of the year not necessarily on winter solstice.

Actually to the Chinese, Tang Yuan with its round shape symbolizes reunion which is why it is also one of the main desserts served during Chinese New Year when all family members get together in a family reunion. Besides, it is also served on wedding day. The groom and bride customarily must feed each other Tang Yuan and they are not allowed to chew the dumplings, instead they are asked to shallow whole so the rice balls would remain intact to symbolize togetherness.

 For firmer and chewy texture of Tang Yuan, best knead the Tang Yuan in advance and left overnight to rest.

Making Tang Yuan is also a great bonding time, the kids especially love the idea of kneading the rice dough because kneading the glutinous rice dough is similar to play-doh, and you can see how Ming Ray enjoyed his Tang Yuan play-doh with his auntie.


Glutinous Dumplings:
450g Glutinous rice flour
3 tsp caster sugar
Warm water
Food coloring - Red and Green (optional)

Sweet Soup:
Rock sugar
Pandan/Screw pine leaves

1. Mix glutinous rice flour with sugar in a large bowl.
2. Slowly add in warm water, stir to form soft dough that does not stick to your hands.
3. To have colourful Tang Yuan, split the dough into 3 portions and add a few drops of food colouring to each portion.
3. Knead the dough to until food colouring is evenly blended throughout the dough.
4. Shape the dough into small round balls. For firmer and chewy texture, best to leave overnight at room temperature.
5 Bring a pot of water to boiling; drop dumplings into the pot by batches. Once boiling reduces the heat to simmer and cook until dumplings float to the surface of the water.
6. If the dumplings soup becomes starchy, add in fresh water and cook or change water, else the dumplings will not cooked easily.
7. Prepare another pot of water, add in screw pine leaves and rock sugar and bring to boil and set aside.
8. Ladle cooked Tang Yuan and transfer into the sweet soup. The main reason of boiling Tang Yuan in a separate pot is to avoid cloudy sweet broth.
9. Alternatively you can use ready-made soya milk to be your sweet broth.

汤圆 (无馅)

食用色素- 红色和绿色(可选)


5锅上火,注入清水烧至将沸,下入汤圆,改小火保持锅中沸而不腾状,煮至汤圆成熟且浮起。用漏勺捞出装入甜汤成. 汤圆要另外先煮是为了避免糯米的殿粉使甜汤变得浓稠。
6另准备一锅水,放入班兰叶和冰糖,烧至沸,甜汤 即成。7。另外,你也可以使用现成的豆浆成为你的甜汤。


  1. Yin these are gorgeous & Ming Ray looks exactly the way kids in the kitchen should look. Thoroughly engaged and grinning from ear-to-ear. Memories he will never forget. We had them yesterday also, which Mum made herself. "Quaypo" was in heaven. I find them a bit too sticky for comfort but they really are a burst of flavor in that first bite. Merry Christmas!

  2. yes, the biggest day for chinese!
    Lovely and sweet! You are still celebrating it though far away in NZ!

  3. Simplified:
    I suppose one of the nicest thing to marry an Asian lady is you not only get to experience Chinese culture, best part is you get to eat delicious Chinese food also right? :-P

  4. 亲子蜜蜜 :
    Welcome to my blog, pleasure to have you stop over, hope to have you back.

    Yes, even though we are in Kiwi land, we are still try our best to follow Chinese festival as much as possible :-P

  5. First, the "tang yuan" looks fabulous and Meng Ray is a handsome lad! Yin, I agree totally with you on being married to an Asian Lady but in my hubby's case he will tell you that there is one more thing other Quaylo may not experience and that is the hard headedness of his "Loong Lui Yan" (Dragon lady). That's what he calls me. LOL!

  6. 比特币的投资价值
    得到 全球的肯定




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