Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Solstice (冬至) Special: Tang Yuan (湯圓)

It may be cold and dark outside (it's the longest night of the year!) but you can stay warm with some tang yuan, or Chinese dumpling soup!

10 oz. glutinous rice flour (The above is my mama's preferred brand. :D)
Fish cake
Ground pork
Chinese sausages ("Lap cheong")
Dried shrimp ("Ha mai")
Daikon radish
White pepper
Green onions
(Why no measurements?" you may ask. My mama pretty much eyeballs everything so you can do the same! Everything is added to taste.)

To begin, we'll make the dumplings first!

1. In a large bowl, add the flour and enough water to make the dough smooth, soft and easily kneadable. The dough should not be too wet and sticky (it should not stick to your fingers too much) or  crumbly (otherwise you won't be able to roll the dough). Then, roll the dough into ropes about an inch in diameter.
 2.  Pull pieces from this rope and place onto a floured surface like this.
3. Then comes the fun part. Get your friends and family to help! Kids will have fun with this step.
Oh my, look at all those dumplings!

Next comes putting it all together~

4. Peel the dried shrimp (how ever much you want lol) and add it to a pot of water until it all boils. This will serve as your soup broth.
 5. Then add your daikon radish, cooking until soft and translucent. As you can see, we like daikon a lot in our family…
6. Add some small pork meatballs to your soup by scooping tablespoon sized balls into the boiling soup. Follow this, with the dumplings you made! Cook everything until the meatballs are cooked through and the dumplings are soft and chewy. The dumplings should start floating to the surface.
 6. And don't forget to chop up a few Chinese sausages and add them as well.
(Tip: Cut them at an angle to get bigger chunks in your soup!)
7. Finally, add some fish cake to your soup! Warm them through. Adjust saltiness at this point, and mix your soup thoroughly so that everybody gets a bit of everything in their bowl. Then you're ready to serve with white pepper, a few sprigs of cilantro, and a sprinkle of green onions on top!

That's it. Simple right?

Tang yuan are super special to me. In Chinese communities, they're generally seen as a symbol of family togetherness because of the the bowls they're served in and the round shapes of the dumplings themselves. But isn't that what most holidays are about though? A coming together, a coming home? In that way, I guess the Winter Solstice Festival isn't so different from any other holiday. On that note...

Happy Winter Solstice, everybody!

Writer: Princess
Photographer: Princess
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