Tomorrow is the Lantern Festival, which is called Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵節)in Chinese. I don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it tang yuan is traditionally eaten at this time. Hooray for an excuse to eat tang yuan!

So, tell me more about tang yuan, you say. Remember yuan zi? Tang yuan are basically filled yuan zi. I think there are actually savory fillings and sweet fillings, but my only experience is with sweet, so that’s what I’ll be featuring today.  A common filling that is also my favorite is black sesame paste, and other popular fillings include peanut and red bean paste

 

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Stuffed Glutinous Rice Balls
湯圓
Tang1yuan2
yields about 20 tang yuan

Ingredients:
Filling:
2 Tbsp sesame seeds or peanuts
1 Tbsp lard, coconut oil, or butter
1 1/2 tsp honey
2-3 tsp powdered sugar

Dough:
1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp room temperature water

Instructions:
1) At the lowest heat on a pan, or at 250F in a toaster oven, toast sesame seeds or peanuts for 15 minutes or so, or until they are fragrant and no longer raw tasting. Cool the seeds/nuts.

2) Use a coffee bean grinder to grind the seeds/nuts into a powder.

3) Alternatively, you can skip steps 1 and 2 and use 2 Tbsp of peanut powder or sesame seed powder, which you could possibly find at an Asian grocery store. Make sure it smells fresh and not rancid.

4) Mix the seeds/nuts with the rest of the filling ingredients. Use a 1/4 tsp measure to make 1/4 tsp-rounded balls, and drop them onto a parchment paper-lined plate. Transfer the plate to the freezer for at least 10 minutes (longer is fine).

5) While the seed/nut balls are freezing, mix your dough.

6) Divide the dough evenly into 20 pieces.

7) Round out each piece of dough into a rough circle, then flatten to a ~2 inch diameter round. I like to flatten the ball in my palms first, then continue to expand the circle by using my first 3 fingers on each hand. You want the dough to be plenty big enough to easily wrap the ball of filling.

8) Take the seed/nut balls out of the freezer, and wrap each ball with a piece of dough. After the filling is sufficiently covered, use your palms to round everything out to be a nice sphere. Place the formed tang yuan onto another parchment paper-lined plate.

9) When you are done forming all the tang yuan, you can proceed to cook them or freeze them for longer term storage. If you freeze them, follow the procedure for dumplings (you can reduce the first freeze time to 20 minutes)

10) To cook tang yuan, merely boil water and cook the tang yuan until they float- just like making yuanzi.

11) If you want to be fancier, see below:

Jiu niang tang yuan ( 酒酿湯圓)

Tang yuan (however many you wish to eat)
1 egg, beaten (1 for every 3-4 people)
Jiu niang (酒酿)
Sugar

1) Boil water (about 1 cup per person). Cook tang yuan in gently boiling water until the tang yuan float.

2) Turn the heat off, then stir while slowly pouring the egg into the liquid.

3) Add some jiu niang (however much you want) and sugar to taste.