Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tang Yuan - Chinese Dessert

Chinese Dessert Soup Balls.

I'm convinced that this is one of those foods that will be served in a lot more restaurants one day. It uses very few ingredients, are simple to make, and can be so elegant. There is also a lot of room for innovation.

Tang Yuan are sticky rice balls, often with red bean inside. They can be served in a sweet soup, alcoholic soup, soup with eggs, milk, or really anything you want.

My mother used to make plain ones without the red bean, but I think that if you can find red bean paste, it's worth the extra work.

You only need 2-3 ingredients:

Glutinous rice flour: Buy the GREEN bag, not the RED bag. They look very similar.
And if you want red bean filling, you can probably find red bean paste in your local asian grocery store.

Mix the flour with a little water. This flour absorbs water amazingly well, so make sure to mix a while before deciding if you have the right consistency. It's too liquid in this picture, and I had to add more flour. Non-Newtonian liquids are fun!

Glutinous rice flour dough is extremely forgiving. I like it dry enough so that the extra dough unsticks from my fingers. You can make it slightly dryer so that is easier to make roll the dough into balls in your palm, but stop once it's easy to make a ball (and it stays a ball - remember - non-newtonian).

Here are some tips if you want to add filling.
- Freeze the ones with filling. they sag if you cook them right away
- Dust a pan with corn starch or rub red bean on it to prevent sticking in the freezer.
- Use the red bean while cold so that it doesn't stick to your fingers
- Because of the forgiving nature of the dough, you don't have to make a "wrapper". I just make a flat piece and as long as you can gather the dough around the paste, you're fine. Try it a few times- it's easier than you think. If there's a hole, you can easily patch it up with more dough.
- I made them about 1 inch in diameter. You can do whatever you like.

To cook, just drop them in boiling water. Boil on medium heat until the balls float. I eat them in their own soup with lots of sugar. My bf eats them in milk.

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