Sunday, December 22, 2013

Making Basic Glutinous Rice Balls (Tangyuan)

Winter Solstice Festival that usually falls around 22 December is here again. My Mother-in-Law, who normally is in charge of making glutinous rice balls (tangyuan or ronde) for the family to celebrate this festival, is in Sarawak for his nephew's wedding this weekend. This said, I thought of making some tangyuan for my husband and Father-in-Law instead.

The tangyuan that I made today was the very basic ones without any filling because I didn't have much time to do any fancy tangyuan and to be honest, do not know how to make the peanut or black sesame paste filling. I quickly did the dough, cooked the tangyuan and made the sweet ginger syrup when Naomi took her afternoon nap.

I made plain white and pink tangyuan just like how my late Grandma and aunt in Indonesia used to make them during this festival every single year. It was indeed very nostalgic for me to make these classic tangyuan for the first time today because as I made the dough, I remembered how my sister and I always asked to be involved when my dear late Grandma and aunt started rolling tangyuan during this festival. Also, I made the first two tangyuan in big size before making the small ones because my late Grandma and aunt believed that we ought to make the big ones (to symbolize the Mother or the Head or something like that) first when we start rolling the glutinous rice balls.

By the way, my late Grandma and aunt usually also made big tangyuan with sweet peanut and dried mandarin orange skin pieces filling, my favourite! I do miss eating them.

My very first DIY tangyuan.

Here's the basic recipe of tangyuan I used today.

Basic Glutinous Rice Balls (tangyuan)


For the dough:
  • 1 Cup Glutinous Rice Flour, use more as needed
  • 1/2 Cup Boiling Water, use more water as needed
  • A drop of vanilla essence, optional
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Food colouring, as preferred

For the Ginger Syrup:
  • 1 Whole Ginger, cleaned and sliced (use more if needed)
  • 5 Pandan leaves, cleaned and knotted
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, or as needed
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar, or as needed
  • 2-3 Cups Water

  1. In a large bowl, pour the glutinous rice flour and sugar. Add the vanilla essence, if using. Slowly pour the boiling water onto the flour mixture and mix it well with the flour by using spatula or wooden spoon. Using boiling water for the tangyuan dough will result in springy texture of glutinous rice balls. Once the mixture is not that hot, use your hands to knead the dough until it is not sticky to the bowl and your hands. Gradually add more glutinous flour, if needed.
  2. Split the dough into two. Add food colouring to the other dough and knead until it is incorporated.
  3. Roll each dough into a log and make small balls evenly. Place the small balls in a plate or tray that are coated with some glutinous flour so they don't stick to each other.
  4. Bring a pot of water into boil and pour the tangyuan onto it. Cook the tangyuan for few minutes until they float. Once they are floating and cooked through, strain them and put them in a bowl of cold water. Set aside.
  5. In another pan, make the sweet ginger syrup by bringing water, ginger slices, pandan leaves to boil. Add liberal amount of brown sugar and granulated sugar into the boiling water until you achieve the desired sweetness and all the sugar is melted.
  6. To serve, place some tangyuan on a bowl (do not include the cold water used to soak tangyuan) and pour some hot ginger syrup onto the glutinous rice balls or you may want to boil the tangyuan together with the ginger syrup for 1-2 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

These glutinous rice balls and the ginger syrup are easy to make. If you'd like to make larger portion, just double the ingredients up.


Happy Winter Solstice Festival!

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