Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to make ooey gooey glutinous rice balls (tang yuen)

Today is my favourite Chinese festival of all, because I get to eat oodles of glutinous rice balls, my favourite food! It's the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of winter. It's when families get together, cook up a storm and eat, drink and be merry. Come to think of it, every Chinese festival revolves around family and food. 

On this day, we make tang yuen (which sounds like the Chinese words for "reunion"). "Yuen" also sounds like round, which symbolises wholeness for us. All in all, the glutinous rice balls are very very auspicious, and very very delicious. There are variations to the balls according to various Chinese provinces.

In our family, we have it plain and tossed in mung bean or peanut powder. The Cantonese usually have it with filling and in a sweet ginger soup, which I love as well. Some have the balls in multiple hues, to signify merriment. It's fast and simple to make; all you need is glutinous rice flour, mung bean or peanut powder and a little sugar.

Step 1: Add water to glutinous rice flour and mix it until it reaches the consistency of Play-Doh.
Step 2: Roll the dough into little balls.
Step 3: Have a pot of water boiling. Drop the balls into boiling water. The balls are done when they float to the surface.
Step 4: Drop them in a bowl of mung bean/ peanut powder, and toss gently with a spoon so they're coated. It doesn't have to be even.
Step 5: Serve. Watch kids when they're eating as the balls are chewy and sticky, to prevent choking.
 The girls love it. I'm hoping this tradition carries on to their children's children.
Happy Winter Solstice everyone!

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