Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Dumplings)

Tang yuan are round glutinous rice dumplings. Types of tang yuan varies from traditionally plain with many different colours, to filled dumplings with either black sesame, peanut or red bean paste. It is quite a versatile and colourful dessert.

Tang yuan 4 | The Trishaw

Traditionally, tang yuan is eaten during winter solstice to celebrate the arrival of winter. Eating these round little glutinous rice dumplings on this day means you become a year older. As these dumplings generally symbolises togetherness and completeness in the family, they are also eaten on the 15th day of Chinese New Year.

At a Chinese or Nyonya wedding, the bride and groom will have to swallow these dumplings instead of chewing. Swallowing these round dumplings represents a sweet future and everlasting rounded future for the newly weds. I remember making these with mum for my sister’s wedding and was told to make them small enough to make it easier for swallowing.

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Frozen tang yuan can easily be bought from an oriental store but are usually the filled ones. The plain and traditional version is really easy to make so there is really no need to buy them. Please refer below for the recipe.

adapted from Nyonya Food
serves 4

  • 100g glutinous rice flour
  • 80ml water
  • 1 tbs fine sugar

  • 1/2 tsp seedless raspberry conserve (for pink colour)
  • 1 tsp matcha powder (for green colour)

Sweet ginger soup
  • 250ml water
  • 2 inch ginger (skin peeled and bruised)
  • 100g brown sugar or rock sugar (up to your preference)
  • 2 screwpine leaves (pandan)

  1. To make glutinous rice dumplings, mix the flour and sugar in a bowl.
  2. Slowly add the water and knead into a dough until you reach a smooth consistency. It should not stick to your fingers and if it starts cracking, it is too dry so add little drops of water until you reach the right consistency.
  3. Divide the dough into three portions to be made into different coloured dumplings; white, pink, green.
  4. Keep two portions of the dough in a bowl and cover so they don't dry out.
  5. Use one third of the dough and roll into small balls of about 1.5cm.
  6. Use another one third of the divided dough and mix with raspberry conserve or matcha powder until well combined.
  7. When mixing raspberry conserve with the dough, it might get a little wet. Add a little more flour until you reach the same consistency.
  8. To make the sweet ginger soup, tie the screwpine leaves into a knot and mix water, sugar and ginger in a pot. Bring to boil then simmer for about 20 minutes.
  9. Cook the dumplings in a separate pot of boiling water in batches.Dumplings are cooked then they float to the surface.
  10. Ladle cooked dumplings into a bowl of room temperature water. This will prevent them from sticking to each other, later.
  11. Transfer the dumplings into the sweet ginger soup and serve.

  • You can substitute the raspberry conserve with red colouring instead. It can be in any colour you like.
  • Dumplings are boiled separately so it does not cloud the ginger soup.

Tang yuan 3 | The Trishaw


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