Tang Yuan (汤圆)is one of the most popular Chinese holiday dishes. Elaine is preparing this for the coming the Lantern Festival (also known as Yuan Xiao Festival). The Lantern Festival of the year of monkey will be celebrated on 22th, February. It indicates the ending of the Chinese New Year. Traditional celebrating activities include eating Tang Yuan, enjoying Lanterns, reading poetry and guessing lantern riddles. In most cases, Tang Yuan is filled with sweet filling (black sesame filling, red bean paste filling or peanuts past filling) and serve with sweetened soup. But savory Tang Yuan is so different as it is filled with savory meat mixture.
For the savory filling, I add cabbage, wood ear mushrooms and fresh mushrooms as side ingredients. You can replace them with bok choy or other preferred vegetables.
How to make the dough for Tang Yuan
Tang Yuan wrapper dough is made with water and sticky rice flour. The simplest way is to mix warm water and sticky rice flour directly (I have introduced the way and assembling method is another black sesame filling Tang Yuan recipe). But the wrapper use just warm water is not stretchable enough and hard to handle with less firmed filling after cooling down especially in cold water days. So we need to combine boiling hot water and cold water. The hot water will make a small portion of the flour gelatinized and increase the stretchability of the dough. Similar method of boiling a small portion in boiling water is used in fried sesame balls.
Dig a hole in flour and pour in around 1/4 cup of boiling hot water. Stir the flour around the hole to absorb the boiling water.
Wait for 2-3 minutes and then stir in 3/4 cup of cold water.
Wait until the dough cool down completely. Otherwise, it will be extremely sticky. Knead with hands until smooth.
Divide into 16 equal portions. Cover them with a wet cloth to prevent drying out.
Take one piece and press it into a around wrapper. Place one filling inside and seal the ball completely. Slightly press the ball with one hand to make the wrapper uniform in thickness and then shape it as round as possible. Repeat to finish all.
Elaine recommends two ways to serve savory Tang Yuan-with chicken broth or with dried seaweed.
Chicken broth version
Dried seaweed version
If you love sticky rice balls, there are another unfilled version– sticky rice balls with crushed peanuts and brown sugar, another fruit version–Nuomichi and another mango smoothie version: small sticky rice balls over mango smoothie.
Savory Chinese Tang Yuan with meat filling
- 1/4 cup ground pork
- 1/4 cup ground shrimp
- 2 soaked wood ear mushroom
- 1 fresh shiitake mushroom
- 1/4 cup chopped cabbage
- a small pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon whisked egg
- 1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced green onion
- 2 cups sticky rice flour+ more for dusting
- 1/4 cup boiling hot water +3/4 cup cold water
- chicken broth as needed
- chopped green onion
- a small pinch of salt
- chopped green onion
- one mall piece of dried seaweed
- 2 drops of sesame oil
- Pre-soak wood ear mushrooms in hot water for around 5 minutes. Remove the ends and set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, mix shrimp and pork with all the seasonings. Stir in one direction until the meat becomes sticky. Rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut all the side ingredients including cabbage, wood ear mushroom and cabbage into small pieces. Squeeze the water out.
- Mix the side ingredient with the marinated meat. Combine well and divide them into 16 portions.
- Dig a hole in flour and pour in around 1/4 cup of boiling water. Stir the flour around the hole to absorb the boiling water. Wait for several minutes and then stir in 3/4 cup of cold water. Wait until the dough cool down completely. Knead with hands until smooth and divide into 16 equal portions. Cover them with a wet cloth to prevent drying out.
- Take one piece and press it into a around wrapper. Place one filling inside and seal the ball completely. Slightly press the ball with one hand to make the wrapper uniform in thickness and then shape it as round as possible. Repeat to finish all.
- Bring water to a boil in a pot (the water should be at least 2 cm higher than the balls); cook the rice dumplings for 5-6 minutes (you need to continue cooking 1-2 minutes after they float on the surface.)
- Serving 1: place chicken broth in serving bowls with chopped green onions and scoop cooked Tang Yuan in.
- Serving 2: place a small piece of dried seaweed with salt, chopped green onion and sesame oil, scoop some soups along with the balls.
If you need to freeze them, dust and then place in plastic wrapper. Boil them directly next time.