Chinese and Taiwanese people like eating Tangyuan (湯圓) during the Yuanxiao Festival, which is more commonly known as the Lantern Festival and Winter Solstice Festival (冬至). Some families have a tradition of eating Tangyuan during the Chinese New Year period as well.
Tangyuan or Yuanxiao
People in South China prefer to call this dish Tangyuan while the people in North China prefer to call this dish Yuanxiao (元宵). There are many different kinds of fillings and pastries that you can use for this dish so there’s a multitude of flavors available. You can make this dish with a sweet filling, such as sweet ground sesame, ground peanut, red bean paste or even taro. Nowadays, many chefs will even put rose or chocolate in Tangyuan to cater for more modern sweeter tastes. There are also many different ingredients for making the pastry including pumpkin, taro, sweet potato, green tea and many others. You can experiment with different kinds of ingredients at home and find the perfect match to suit you and your family’s taste.
This recipe is a savory flavor Tangyuan. The filling is pork with shallots and spring onions. This dish is served with some green vegetables, such as bak choy and you can use vegetable or chicken stock for the soup which will enhance the flavors of this dish further.
How to Cook It
The correct way to cook Tangyuan is to cook it in boiling water and once it is cooked you serve it with a clear soup broth. The brother can balance the flavor of the sweet filling.
There are also unfilled Tangyuan that are also cooked in boiling water. We however serve this with a ginger infused syrup, red bean soup, black sesame soup, fermented glutinous rice and sweet osmanthus soup. My personal favourite is to serve this with red bean soup. You can also deep fry unfilled Tangyuan and after cooking it coat it with ground peanut and caster sugar. Deep fried Tangyuan coated with ground peanut and caster sugar is a very popular dessert in Taiwanese wedding banquets as this dish has a meaning of perfect love and blessing the couple.
When pronounced correctly Tangyuan also has a meaning of family reunion so when we eat Tangyuan we are thinking about our friends and family who work or live far away.
- For the Pastry:
- 1 pound/400 g of glutinous rice flour (糯米粉)
- 1 tablespoon potato starch (太白粉, available in Chinese supermarket)
- 1 cup/200 ml of water
- 3/4 ounces/20 g of oil
- For the Filling:
- 1/2 pound/250 g of pork mince (I will suggest you use a little bit pork fat or pork belly as the filling will taste a bit softer and nicer if have a little bit of fat in it)
- 1 ounce/30 g of fried shallots
- 1 spring onion (chop finely)
- 1 thin slice ginger (chop finely)
- Seasonings for the Filling:
- 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 pinches of ground white pepper
Procedures for the Pastry of Tangyuan
- Mix everything together and knead until smooth.
- Take 15% of the mixture and separate into 2 or 3 small balls and flatten them by hand. Boil some water in a small saucepan and cook those flattened mixtures until they float on the water.
- Mix the cooked mixture with the other raw mixture together evenly and separate the mixture into 25g each small balls.
Procedure for Tangyuan
- Mix all the ingredients and seasonings for the filling together evenly then leave aside for 20 minutes.
- Separate the filling into small balls and freeze them until hard (it’s easier to make tangyuan if the filling is hard).
- Use the pastry to cover the filling and make it look like a round shape.
- Boiling some water to cook the tangyuan and when they float on the water they are cooked.
- Use another soup pot to cook stock while the tangyuan is boiling and add some chopped celery and dried shallots into the stock and season the stock with a bit of salt and sesame oil.
- Place the tangyuan into the soup and cook them together for another 1 minute. You can also put some vegetable into the soup such as Bok Choy or any green vegetable.