Chinese New Year Recipe: Tangyuan (Glutinous Rice Balls) Dessert

BY ANDY CHENG

An easy to prepare, delicious family dish

Tangyuan (湯圓)  and family: two things that always come to mind when I return home for the holidays. Tangyuan, or glutinous rice balls, is a Chinese dessert traditionally served during the Lantern Festival or Chinese New Year. The rice balls typically contain sweet filling, and they are boiled in water. Because it is a hot dish, my family loves to make and serve it in the wintertime. The rice balls symbolize family togetherness, making this a great family dessert. And moreover, the delicious dish is fun and easy to prepare!

Ingredients (serves five):

Filling: 2 tablespoons sugar (brown or white), 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds (peanuts, almonds, cashews, and/or sesame seeds)

Rice balls: 1.5 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 cup water

Equipment: Large mixing bowl, cooking pot

Instructions (about 40 minutes):

  1. Preparing the filling: crush the nuts into fine small chunks and mix it with the sugar.
  2. Preparing the flour: add small amounts of water into the large bowl containing the flour and stir/mix with your hands. Continue doing so until the flour forms into dough.
  3. Preparing the rice balls: Separate the dough into 30 pieces and roll each one into a ball. Depending on size preferences, there could be more or less. Flatten the dough with your hands and place the filling onto it before rolling it back into a ball.
  4. Cooking the rice balls: Fill a cooking pot with water and bring it to a boil. Add the rice balls and gently stir to prevent sticking. After 15 minutes of boiling at medium heat, the dish is ready to be served. Place the desired amount of rice balls and water into bowls and enjoy!

Variations: depending on personal preference, the fillings could be made with red bean, other types of nuts, or just sugar. Adding brown sugar to the boiling water is also popular because it sweetens the soup.

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