Saturday, 9 February 2013

Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner - Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Dumplings with Sweet Ginger Broth)

Just a very quick post from me before I proceed with my reunion dinner, like all good Chinese across the world.

Yes, it is the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year,  which is to a lot of Chinese, more important than the actual day itself. For this is the evening when we would normally travel for miles to be back to be with our families and loved ones. It is this meal that celebrate the family reunion and togetherness. Lots of delicious fare will be prepared and every member of the family would sit round the table to enjoy the well earned dinner.

One of the most symbolic dish will be this glutinous rice ball, known as Tang Yuan 汤圆. This round dumplings is traditionally served as pudding at the end of a reunion meal to celebrate this togetherness of the family. Like the shape of the dumplings and the round bowls that they are usually served in, they represent 'complete' and 'wholesome' which is what the evening is all about.

Tang Yuan can either be filled with chopped peanuts or sweet red bean paste but for the traditionalist, the plain ones, served in a sugary ginger syrup are the best.

Now I shall leave you with your reunion dinner,  as I have my own dinner to get on with. Can't keep them waiting now can I? But before I go, I would just like to wish you all....

恭喜發財 ! 萬事如意 !

Ingredients (Serves 4 - 6)

For the dumplings:
200g glutinous rice flour, plus more for dusting
150ml boiling water
2 tsp groundnut or sunflower oil
red and green edible food colouring, or any of your choice but the auspicious red is a must!

For the pandan and ginger broth:
8-10 pandan leaves, tied into knots
5 cm length fresh ginger, peeled and lightly bruised
1.5l water
70g rock sugar


Combine the pandan leaves,  ginger, water and rock sugar in a pan. Cover and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Adjust the sweetness to taste and strain.

Sift the glutinous rice flour into a large mixing bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to mix until you get a crumbly dough. Add the oil and knead the dough with damp hands to bring the dough together. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough into 3 portions. Add a few drop of red colouring to one and knead to mix in the colour. Repeat with the green and leave the last portion as it is. 

Dust your hands and pinch off a bit of  dough and roll using your hand into a round ball, the size of a grape. They will expand when cooked so make sure they are not too big to begin with. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Keep it on a simmer while gently dropping the dumplings in. Do this in batches and do not overcrowd the pan. Tang yuan is cooked when they float to the surface. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a large bowl of fresh cold water while you continue with the rest.

To serve, heat up the pandan and ginger broth. Drain and scoop the tang yuan into individual serving bowls and ladle in the broth.  

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