Today is the celebration of the beginning of the Lunar New Year in many Asian countries. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that saying, “Happy Chinese New Year” is actually a bit of a mistake, since many countries and cultures celebrate the new year today, and saying “Happy Lunar New Year” is more accurate. Good to know!
I think food is a great bridge to learning about other cultures so we have been making some traditional Chinese foods in anticipation of exploring the meaning and traditions of the holiday. I had read about how tang yuan are a traditional treat prepared and served on several Chinese holidays. It is also fun to make and eat, and has the following symbolism which I think is wonderful to share with children as a family,
For many Chinese families in mainland China as well as overseas, tang yuan is usually eaten together with family. The round shape of the balls and the bowls where they are served, come to symbolise the family togetherness.
We made this tang yuan recipe (though there are many other versions that I hope to try) with some omissions as I didn’t have time to go to a store that has some of the specialty ingredients, but hope to do so soon! Also, don’t let the name confuse you, glutinous rice flour has no gluten- the “glue” means glue-like or sticky – and tang yuan are indeed quite sticky. In fact, I would use caution if feeding them to younger children as their round shape and extreme chewiness might be a choking hazard! Enjoy and let me know what you thought of this fun food and activity!
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour (also can be found as sweet rice flour)
- 1⁄2 cup water for making dough
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- Food coloring of choice
- Sweet Syrup Soup
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, crushed with the side of a chef's knife 4 cups water
- 5 tablespoons light brown sugar
- Add flour and sugar to a large mixing bowl and add water until the mixture is smooth, but not too sticky. You may need more water if you find the mixture is too crumbly.
- Knead the dough for several minutes until it is very smooth and pliable.
- Divide the dough into sections according to how many colors you plan to make, roll into large balls.
- Make an indentation with your thumb and add 1-2 drops of food color and knead again until the color is fully distributed, repeat if you wish the color to be darker.
- Prepare a clean bowl of room temperature water and set aside, you will put the cooked tang yuan in this water after boiling.
- Bring a pot of water to boil and add the tang yuan, boiling them for 5 minutes or so, you will know they are done when they float to the top.
- Drain and add the tang yuan to the bowl of room temperature water.
- Add the 4 cups of water with the ginger and sugar, bring to a boil until dissolved and the ginger flavor has infused, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add cooked tang yuan to a bowl and spoon the soup over them, serve, and enjoy!