Glutinous rice balls in red bean soup

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:

Dongzhi 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.

Tangyuan dough

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.

Tangyuan balls

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.

Tangyuan sieve

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!

Tangyuan soup

[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.]

Read my other posts on making glutinous rice balls in hot ginger soup, five-coloured glutinous rice balls and the variety of ways in which you can eat them.


5 Responses

  1. […] About « Glutinous rice balls in sweet red bean soup […]

  2. […] December 17, 2007 by niceties I like to have snacks in a variety of textures. Squidgy snacks like glutinous rice balls and soft ones like cakes and muffins are nice, but sometimes I just want something more solid to […]

  3. […] Posted on December 17, 2007 by niceties I’ve already written about glutinous rice balls in sweet red bean soup and in hot ginger soup, but there are a multitude of ways to serve tang yuan, and it’s always […]

  4. […] Winter Solstice just a couple of days away, the latest posting is for a Korean variation on Chinese tang yuan in red bean soup. Mitong also has a numerous archived recipes for glutinous rice balls, which are also traditionally […]

  5. […] 100g glutinous rice flour 1 tsp cooked pumpkin flesh [NB: no discernible pumpkin taste in the cooked rice balls] 1 tsp brown sugar [NB: surprisingly doesn’t make the glutinous rice balls that sweet] 1/2 tsp green tea powder (matcha) [NB: too much, green colour comes out too dark, matcha taste is too strong and bitter] 1/2 tsp purple mountain yam powder [NB: the slight medicinal taste might not appeal to everyone; as I noted here, mountain yam is commonly used as a traditional Chinese medicinal food] 300ml milk/soya bean milk/coconut milk appropriate amount of red (adzuki) bean paste […]

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