I have to admit, one of my favorite things about Chinese New Year is the food. Like many Chinese holidays, CNY is a time filled with traditions— and one of those traditions is to stuff yourself with auspicious foods in hopes of having good luck and fortune in the coming year.
With that being said, I’m excited to share a recipe of one of my favorite auspicious desserts– tong yuen (湯圓).
These auspicious dumplings are served in a ginger soup and are shared amongst family members. The name is a homophone for “union”, and their round shape also symbolizes togetherness.
See? What a nice thing for families to eat together.
And now I’m sharing the recipe so that you can try them at home with your own family!
Tong Yuen Dumplings:
— 8 oz. glutinous rice flour
— 1/2 cup water
— 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
— 1/2 stick butter
— 5 cups water
— 1 cup sugar (all white or 1/2 white and 1/2 brown)
— 4 oz. ginger
— 1/2 teaspoon sweet osmanthus (optional)
— 2 screwpine leaves (optional)
Lightly toast the black sesame seeds on medium stove settings. Once the seeds become aromatic or start popping, remove them from the heat.
Use a food processor to grind the seeds into a fine consistency. If you don’t have a food processor a coffee grinder works great or you can do it by hand!
Once finely ground, mix the seeds, sugar and butter together in a pan over light heat. Continue stirring until thoroughly mixed. Then set the filling aside by chilling it in the fridge — this is important for getting it to set!
Prepare the ginger soup, peel and pound the ginger. Next, boil the ginger and water for 10-15 minutes. Then, add the sugar and boil for an additional 5-10 minutes.
While the soup is boiling, begin to prepare the dumpling wrapper. In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water until it creates a dough-like texture. Add more flour as needed.
To create the dumpling, grab a piece of dough and form a ball. Flatten it in your hand before adding a small amount of black sesame filling to the center. Then, pinch all edges of the wrapper together, and roll it back into a ball. Place the dumplings on a plate with a small amount of extra flour to keep them from sticking.
Once all dumplings have been made, heat a pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, transfer them into the ginger soup.
Serve immediately and enjoy. Just be sure to serve the dumplings in even numbers!
This recipe is surprisingly easy to make at home and we were able to find all of the ingredients at our local Walmart and Mariano’s. The hardest part is actually forming the dumplings, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a piece of cake! Just make sure not to make the wrapper too thin otherwise it’ll break when you go to form it into a ball.
If you don’t like black sesame, go ahead and experiment with other fillings. You can go sweet or savory, and other popular ingredients to use are peanuts, red bean, or even fruit preserves.
Happy Chinese New Year!