Glutinous rice dumplings, or tang yuan (汤圆), are traditionally snacked on during the Chinese Winter Solstice Festival and on the 15th (final) day of Chinese New Year. It is said that the little balls nestled together in a bowl symbolises family closeness and togetherness – very fitting for reunions and festive gatherings!
Made using soft glutinous rice flour for that delightful chewy factor, the balls are often filled with a sweet paste before being cooked in a sweet ginger soup. Popular dumpling fillings include ground black sesame, red bean paste and peanut sugar. While this sweet dessert is common, savoury versions also exist and are popular among families from the Southern regions of China.
These bouncy white pillows of chewy goodness provide a tasty textural sensation of gritty peanut and melt-in-the-mouth sugar when you bite into them. Some like to dye the white dough various colours (usually red, green and yellow) to make the dumplings stand out, but I think they look more attractive without gaudy food colouring and make for an elegant after-feast dessert.
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