Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Balls)

These are a Chinese dessert typically served during 元宵, or Lantern Festival. It’s a bit like nuo mi ci (糯米糍), or the other glutinous rice balls in that it is also made with glutinous rice flour. It’s actually a lot alike nuo mi ci, just smalled and served in a sugary soup. They even share some of the same fillings, such as red bean, black sesame, peanut, etc.

Making these small glutinous rice balls are easier, in my opinion, since the ingredients are just rice flour, water, and red bean paste. The red bean paste can be store-bought, or homemade. I love homemade red bean paste. It isn’t as sweet and still has some whole beans in it. Most store-bought paste is almost sickeningly sweet and has an off taste and textureless. If you have time, just boil a pot of red beans until tender, add sugar to taste and a tiny amount of oil, and mash together.

Tang Yuan 汤圆 (Glutinous Rice Balls)
makes about 15 3cm balls

250 grams glutinous rice flour (usually half the 500 gram package sold in Asian food stores)
about 3/4 c. hot water, more or less as needed
red bean paste or other filling

  1. Mix the water into the rice flour, a little at a time, until you have a pretty soft dough that holds together.
  2. Knead a few times and let rest for about 15 minutes.
  3. Pinch off small balls a little smaller than 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Flatten in your palm and drop a small dollop of red bean paste into the middle. Pinch the edges closed and roll between your palms until round. Use a little water if the dough is hardening too fast.
  5. Bring a pot of water to boil. Drop the rice balls into the water and boil until they float.
  6. Add a little sugar to the broth, if desired, and serve with a little of the broth.

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