Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Dongzhi 冬至 Tang Yuan

I enjoy many different festivals, especially when there's food involved! :P

Dongzhi is celebrated on Dec 22 this year.

Tang yuan are white and pink glutinous rice ball dumplings made with fillings of sesame seeds, peanuts, or red bean paste and served as a sweet dessert during Dongzhi, Chinese New Year, and the Lantern Festival. In Chinese cultures, there are often a play of words with the same intonations. The word tang which mean soup, sounds like another word - reunion, while yuan means happy. Also, the roundness and sweetness of this dessert symbolize unity and happy life for the family. Growing up, we usually have tang yuan during Chinese New Year. The tradition in my family is to serve one white glutinous rice ball (usually larger) with filling, with the colored ones (with or without filling) and it has to total to an odd number.

In China and to Chinese everywhere, Dongzhi is a Chinese solar term for the winter solstice festival. Friends and families get together to eat, laugh, drink, and be merry.

I started to celebrate the winter solstice when a friend from Hong Kong told me about this festival back in 1999. Since the day of the Dongzhi is longest night of the year, most Chinese believe that to counter the yang, we should put on bright clothes, visit friends, and have a party with food and laughter. To me, it's one more way to celebrate this holiday season! Cheers!

This year, I made tang yuan with red and green colors and used this recipe adapted from E of Tazz in the Kitchen. I thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful texture of the red bean soup and spicy flavor of the ginger syrup mixed together with the tang yuan in her recipe. It also creates a richer color for the liquid. Thanks E! This dessert is usually very sweet, so adjust the sugar to suit your tastebuds.Ingredients for Glutinous Rice Balls:
250g (8 to 9 ounces) glutinous rice flour
About 1 cup Water (more or less depending on the humidity)
15-20g (1/2 to 3/4 ounce) brown sugar
Red Food colouring
Method for Glutinous Rice Balls: Add sufficient water to flour and knead into dough. Divide dough into 2 parts. Add food colouring to one part. Knead each dough well. Make balls from the dough. Bring a pot of water to boil in a big pot and drop in dough balls to cook. When cooked, balls will rise to the surface. Drain balls and put in a big bowl. Add about 15-20g of sugar to mix with the balls. Set aside.
Ingredients for Syrup:
300ml (10 ounces) water
4-5 pandan leaves, washed and tied into a knot,
2-inch knob ginger, crushed (more if desired to give a strong ginger taste)
About 100g (3 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
Method for Syrup: Bring water to boil in a pot with the pandan leaves and ginger. Add sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Discard pandan leaves (if using) and ginger.


Anonymous said...

Happy Dongzhi to you too! Yummy tang yuan you made!

Anonymous said...

Can you please share how you got the wonderful green and red colors for your tung yuan?