Sunday, 21 December 2008

Tang Yuen Festival

This is another festival associated with food- Tang Yuen or glutinous rice ball. I saw Christina mentioned in her blog and learnt about another name for this festival as Dong Zhi or commonly known as "Winter Solstice Festival".

I don't really know the reason for this particular celebration. Literally translated, it is the arrival of winter festival. Definitely it cannot be appreciated by anyone born in this tropical country. Anyway, just like Christmas, we still enjoy eat, drink and be merry. Who cares whether there is any changing season! This festival for most of the years will uniquely fall on 22th of December. I don't know why this year is the exception. Perhaps the person designing the calendar trying to facilitate the working class by making it happen on a Sunday...I wonder..that's very thoughtful of him/her..hahaha! As far as I can remember, this festival has got something to do with one's age. My mom used to tell us children that upon eaten the tang yuen, we will grow one year older. My mom also like to tell me to eat the number of tang yuen in accordance to my age. If I eat too many at one go, I will grow old faster. When I was five year old, I was quite upset by such a rule. Being a gluttonous little eater, five mini size tang yuen is definitely not enough for me. Anyway, when I grew to 12 year-old, I suddenly realised that a dozen of tang yuen is just too much for me to swallow. So I began to asked my mom every time during the Tang Yuen Festival, "mom, can I not eat the tang yuen so that I won't, er....grow old?"

Some Chinese Festivals can be quite ritualistic. My mom is someone who will follow tradition. She will prepare all sort of food according to ritual. However, this year she's unable to roll the tang yuen as my dad has passed away few months' ago. According to the aunties, it is against the principle for one to roll the tang yuen or inaugurate the festival when one of the elder family members passed away in the same year.The reason being that tang yuen is round in shape and signify reunion and this is one thing that our family members are going to miss when my dad is no longer with us this year. I am a little sad when think of this as my mom in law told me that usually as a daughter, it ought to be my duty to make the tang yuen for my mom. However, I have failed to perform this duty today. Anyway, I told myself to replace in another time when I visit my mom.

Traditionally, the tang yuen is made of plain glutinous flour and cooked in sweet syrup made of rock sugar. Some people like to add flavour to the syrup by adding with ginger or osmanthus flower (Taiwanese/Shanghainese Style). Later it developed into variation such as blending in the yam, sweet potatoes or pumpkins. There are some tang yuen with fillings too such as peanut paste, sesame paste, lotus paste or red bean paste. These are the sweet variation. The savoury variation is made popular by the Hakka clan, the fillings are some minced meat with vegetables. As for the Malaysianised version, we have the gula melaka filling just like the onde-onde and the skin is usually flavoured with pandan juice. The syrup is also sweetened with gula melaka instead of rock sugar.

Below is a tang yuen recipe which I experimented. As my family members like the kick from ginger, I have extracted a lot of ginger juice. This soup is very spicy indeed. After drinking it, you will perspire profusely to get rid of any "evil wind" in the body. I believe it will improve metabolic rate and good for one who is about o suffer from a cold. Anyway, the soup that I made was too spicy hot that the kids may not like it. My nephews just eat the glutinous ball and left the soup behind...

Ingredients to make the tang yuen skin:
  1. 300g glutinous rice flour (tepung pulut)
  2. 2 tbsp rice flour (tepung beras)
  3. Some cold and hot water for kneading(you can also add some pandan/screwpine leave juice)
  1. Take about a quarter of the glutinous rice flour and mix with hot water. This is to make a dough that is half-cooked so it gets stickier a bit and for easy blending.
  2. Mix all the flour together including the cooked dough.
  3. Mix in enough water and knead to form a smooth soft ball.
  4. Make sure the dough in moist enough to roll into a ball (Pic as above).

Ingredients to make the fillings:

  1. 250 g of groundnuts
  2. 50g of sesame seeds
  3. Fine Sugar & salt according to taste
  4. Some water to form into balls
  1. Fry the ground nuts and sesame seed till brownish in colour without use of any oil in the pan. Make sure you keep stirring and tossing in order not to char the surface of the beans.
  2. Remove the ground nut skin with the help of a sift.
  3. Blend groundnuts and sesame together.
  4. Blend sugar into the peanut and sesame paste. I usually blend in sugar gradually as to get the correct sweetness
  5. Blend in one tsp of salt.
  6. Add in water bit by bit to the consistency which the paste can be formed into a ball (pic as above).

How to make the tang yuen:
  1. Take a portion of the dough, about the same size with the ground nut & sesame paste ball.
  2. Press it into a thin sheet on your palm.
  3. Put the paste in the middle.
  4. Ensure that the skin covers the whole paste.
  5. Roll into balls.
  6. You can moist your hand with some water to ensure that there is no crack on the ball.
  7. Simmer a pot of water.
  8. Throw in the balls.
  9. When the balls start to float, it shows that it is cooked.
  10. Immerse the ball immediately into a bowl of cooked water at room temperature until it is ready for serving.
  11. You need to prepare the syrup to be eaten together with the balls.
  12. All you need to do is to put in the ball back again into the syrup and let it boil a bit before serving.
  13. The syrup recipe is simple. Just boil another pot of water, sweeten with rock sugar or gula melaka.
  14. If you like the extra hot version just like mine, blend the ginger, extract the juice and pour into the syrup.
Because of ginger juice is used instead of ginger slices, this soup will look slightly "murky", not as clear as the normal rock sugar syrup or one which slice gingers are used. Anyway, you are guaranteed to sweat it out with this hot soup!


Post a Comment