The Winter Solstice, or Dong Zhi 冬至 (Tang Chek in Hokkien dialect), is coming up soon on 22 December, as you can see from my traditional calendar:
This is a Chinese festival during which glutinous rice balls, tang yuan 湯圓, are served. [23/12/07 update: Read this Straits Times‘ columnist’s reflections on her family’s celebration of Tang Chek in Penang.] The Modern Vegetarian has got an early start and has already blogged about her tang yuan recipes, read them here and here.
However when I made a batch of tang yuan week before last, it wasn’t because of the approaching Dong Zhi festival, but because I was inspired by Canton Pixie’s comments here. She suggested that if one is trying to avoid wheat, rather than trying complicated gluten-free recipes that attempt to imitate dishes that use wheat flour, it makes more sense to try out Asian recipes based on non-wheat flours.
I mixed 1 cup of glutinous rice flour with a bit less than that of water, judging the consistency by sight and feel. You want a dough that is dry enough to roll out into balls.
I tried out a teaspoon, a melon ball scoop, and a coffee powder measure from Daiso as ways to get even amounts of dough each time.
My shaped balls look rather ugly, I’m afraid :P. When I made tang yuan again today, I made an effort to make them look more smooth and rounded. [22/12/07 update: I figured out that if the dough is too soft, it’s hard to make into even balls, so just make sure the consistency of the dough is correct, with the minimal amount of water added to make a smooth dough.]
Once the dough was shaped, I then popped the tang yuan into a pot of boiling water and when when they floated to the surface, I scooped them into a sieve.
You can store them in the fridge in a covered container, but they will stick to each other. I’m going to experiment with storing them in cold water in the fridge. [22/12/07 update: I’ve decided to store them in the fridge without water, but pour in water to separate them when I want to remove a few, then drain again before returning to the fridge.] Another alternative is to copy the frozen commercial tang yuan, which are sold as uncooked dough, and they won’t be sticky when frozen.
Meanwhile, I had already prepared a red (azuki) bean soup the day before. Red beans are a nice, safe food low in salicylates :). I soaked some red beans overnight, and the next day, cooked them with fresh water in a mini electric crockpot (700ml volume) until they were soft and mushy (no sugar added). This can be stored in the fridge or frozen. For ease of use if frozen, put them into ice cube trays or single serving-sized containers.
When I was ready to eat, I heated some red bean with extra water as it was very thick and added sugar to taste, although I did eat this sugar-free on a couple of occasions. I put a few tang yuan from the fridge into the pot of red bean soup to heat up, and here is the dish on the table (^_^)…. oh dear, those uneven balls really look ugly!
[24/12/07 update: Have just discovered that in Japan, this dish is eaten cold and called Shiratama zenzai. Read an article about red beans & rice and the recipe here.]
Filed under: anti-candida diet, Asian snacks, Chinese, dairy-free, egg-free, food culture, food intolerance, gluten-free, recipes, vegetarian, wheat-free | Tagged: azuki (紅豆), beans, glutinous rice flour |