By: Wenyu Qi
Tangyuan is a Chinese food made of glutinous rice. It can either be served in a soup or just eaten plain. It can be sweet or salty, small or big, and filled or unfilled. Tangyuan is eaten all year long, because it is sold as a frozen food in many Asian supermarkets. But most of the time, it is eaten during Lantern Festival and Chinese New Year. I chose this food, because it is one of my favourites. Before, I only ate them during Chinese New Year, but now I can eat them whenever I want, because they are sold already frozen, all I need to do is boil them.
History of Tangyuan
In China, there are two different versions of the legend of where Tangyuan comes from. In the northern China, the legend comes from the Yongle era of the Ming dynasty. At that time, Tangyuan was called ‘Yuanxiao’ (元宵), and was derived from Yuanxiao festival, also known as the Lantern Festival. Yuanxiao means ‘first evening’ which is the first full moon after Chinese New Year and it is always a new moon. In southern China, Tangyuan is also called ‘Yuanxiao’ (元宵). But since 1912, when Yuan Shikai (袁世凯) became the first president of the Republic of China, the name was changed. Yuan Shikai always wanted to become an emperor, but he was scared that the people of the Republic of China would oppose him. Yuan Shikai was scared of the people because Yuan (袁) from his name and Yuan (元) from the food Yuanxiao have the same pronunciation. Also, xiao (宵) from the food and the xiao (消) as in ‘xiaomie’ (消灭), meaning ‘eradicate’, have the same pronunciation.
Therefore, Yuanxiao (元宵) the food, made Yuan Shikai think that the people of Republic of China were thinking of Yuanxiao (袁消), meaning to remove Yuan Shikai from the president’s place. In 1913, before Yuanxiao festival (Lantern Festival), Yuan Shikai decided to change the name Yuanxiao (元宵) to Tangyuan (汤圆). From then on, Tangyuan has become the official name of this food.
- 4 cups of glutinous rice (sticky rice) flour
- 220 ml of warm water
- 200 ml of cold water
- 14 tablespoons of black sesame powder
- 14 tablespoons of sugar
- 10 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1. Mixed the black sesame powder and the sugar together. Melt the unsalted butter and add the black sesame powder mixture together (filling part).
2. Make the mixture into small round shapes, place them with spaces between each other to make sure they don’t stick together and then put them into the fridge to make the mixture hardens to make the following steps easier.
3. To make sure that the outside paste doesn’t become hard, use only half of the ingredients first and then make the other half.
4. Take 2 cups of the glutinous rice flour add 110 ml of warm water and mix with chopsticks, make sure all the flour is well mixed and then add 100 ml of cold water to make the paste stick altogether (outside paste).
5. Take small parts of the paste and flatten them with the palm of your hand. Put the filling in the paste and then close it into a ball. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, this step must be very gently and delicate. Set aside and let it cold down a bit before putting into the water to boil.
6. Heat up a pot of boiling water (around 4-5 cups), and then drop the balls into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, they are ready to eat.
1. When boiling, gently stir from time to time to make sure the balls don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
2. The Tangyuan are really hot in the middle when it just comes out of the water.
3. Tangyuan can be served with the water from the boiling pot, because the Tangyuan can be very sticky.
4. 1 cup = 240 ml
5. The filling of the Tangyuan can be changed to white sesame powder, red bean powder, green bean powder, and sweet almond powder and even crushed peanuts. All the ingredients can be bought in Asian supermarkets (Kim Phat, few Loblaws, most of the supermarkets in Chinatown)