21 Dec 2012

Tang Yuen (Tang Yuan) 湯圓

I have a special affection to tang yuen (tang yuan). It can always warm my heart. For my family, traditionally we make tang yuen on Dong Zhi (冬至) (the winter solstice) and Chinese New Year. It’s my task since I was a young teenager. I always make this super easy and simple one, i.e. completely plain, without any filling.

Today is Dong Zhi. Got back from work, made some tang yuen, just took me probably 15 to 20 minutes. I had never measured when I did tang yuen. This time, specially jot this down, perhaps someone, especially from a different cultural background, might interested.

Tang Yuen (Tang Yuan) 湯圓
3/4 cup glutinous rice flour
6 TBsp boiling water
optional: some food colouring
3 cup water
3.5 (~ 4) TBsp sugar, or best: rock sugar
3 screwpine leaves (pandan leaves), tied in a knot  
1/2” ginger, peeled, sliced/crushed
some boiling water for poaching
Serving: 2

- Of (I), knead glutinous rice flour with hot boiling water forming a smooth dough. Colour 2/5 of the dough seperately with a drop of colouring (traditionally pink, or your choice). Pinch dough and roll into bite-size small balls on your palms. (Yeild 25 tang yuen balls here.)
- Meantime, bring all (II) except screwpine leaves to boil in a pot, turn to medium low heat.

- Also, boil another pot of water for poaching (III). Drop tang yuen one by one into the boiling water. At first, they will drop to the bottom of the pot. Stir once or twice. When cooked, the tang yuen will float.

- Scoop all the floating tang yuen transferring into the syrup soup which is now boiling in a separate pot. Add in screwpine knot. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. (Note that the tang yuen will eventually sink back to the bottom of the pot.)

- Serve warm: tang yuen  湯圓.

Most people won't bother, but good tang yuen is round, stand and not collapsed, a little chewy that we call "Q", while no overly starchy stuff surrounding each tang yuen ball.

It looks really similar to Japanese dango (団子) except it serves in a syrup base soup. Some people like to serve it in some soy milk. Anyway, sometimes I make it all in white colour and have it in sweet red bean soup as if Japanese zenzai (善哉).

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