Saturday 13 March 2021

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Tangyuan - Modern Healthier & More Nutritious Chinese Sweet Rice Balls/汤圆 [tāng yuán]

Tang yuan served in warm water


- 1 small beetroot for the red color
- A handful of baby spinach leaves blended

Tang yuan served in sweet ginger soup

Made of nutritious brown rice flour, sesame and natural coloring from spinach and beetroot :-) This gives you 20% wholewheat content.

Makes 25 tangyuan

Ingredients:

Dough:

1. 1 cup glutinous rice flour (100g)
2. 1/4 cup brown rice flour (30g)
3. 1/2 cup and tsp cold water including liquid from coloring (118 ml)

Filling:

1. 1 cup black sesame seeds (100g)
2. 7 TBS sugar (100g)

Sweet ginger soup (甜姜汤):

- 1 litre water
- 1 inch ginger
- 4 TBS brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 Pandan leave (optional) – In Singapore, we add this to the ingredients for the fragrant of the Pandan leave in the soup, but since I can’t get it in Denmark, I just leave it out.

Directions:

Filling:

1. Roast the black sesame seeds on a pan under medium heat until fragrant and let it cool down.
2. Blend the black sesame seeds and sugar together. 

Making the tangyuan:

1. In a mixing bowl, add glutinous rice flour (100g) and brown rice flour (30g) and mix well.

2. Add cold water and knead into a dough. You will find that the dough breaks easily, and that's alright, as you haven't added in the gluten yet.

3. Make your own "gluten" by taking a small amount of dough (approx. 10g) and roll it into a ball, then flatten it. Make another piece.

4. In a pot of boiling water, add the two flat dough pieces and boil until cooked. When they float on the water, it means they are cooked.

5. Drain the cooked dough and add them into the raw dough, knead and combine well. You will find that the dough doesn't break, much more elastic and easy to handle now (crediting my friend Da Jie who taught me this method of adding gluten into the dough and making it very elastic). 

If the dough sticks to your fingers, when you handle it, it means your dough is too wet. Adjust by adding a bit more glutinous rice flour or brown rice flour little-by-little and knead to combine well. When the dough no longer sticks to your fingers, it is good.

6. Wrap the dough in food plastic and let it rest for 30 minutes (optional, the dough will be easier to work with after resting)

7. To make a tangyuan, weigh 8g of dough and roll it into a ball, then dig a hole with your little finger for the filling.

8. Fill it with the black sesame filling, fold and close it up into a ball and set aside. Repeat step 7-8 until all the dough or filling are used up.

Cooking the tangyuan:

Sweet ginger soup:

1. In a pot of water, add ginger and Pandan leaves (optional) and bring to boil *

2. Add the brown or coconut sugar and simmer it under low heat (no. 3 on my stove).

1. Bring to rapid boil a separate pot of water and add the sweet balls into the pot.

2. Let it come to a second boil. The sweet balls are done once they float to the top.

3. Dish it out into a bowl and add the sweet ginger soup into it.

4. Serve immediately and enjoy :-)

* You can also also just cook the tangyuan simply in water without the brown sugar and ginger. This means that it will be tangyuan in plain soup - which is the traditional way in China, and is healthier than the Singaporean Chinese's sweet ginger soup :-)

Additional Information:

Our kids LOVE tangyuan. Chinese new year is over a month ago and I am still making them! I just have to record down the recipe so that I don't forget and it will be handy for me during Chinese new year next year.

Tangyuan is eaten on the last day (or 15th day) of Chinese New Year (CNY) known as Yuanxiao. It is the first full moon after the start of the CNY. This day is commemorated with tangyuan symbolizing that the year would be sweet, round and complete, just like the full moon. Tangyuan is also eaten during the Lantern Festival.

However, traditionally-made tangyuan, despite the use of sesame filling, still net off isn't the healthiest choice because of the high content of white glutinous rice, lots of sugar and artificial coloring! Tangyuan can be made without the filling, just plain glutinous flour balls. I remembered that tanggyuan wasn't my favorite's CNY food as a young child. I found it a rather empty calorie food, when my granny or my mum used to make them during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Now as a mother, I face the dilemma of whether or not to pass down this tradition to our children. If I am to pass this tradition down, tangyuan has to be more nutritious. I have decided to make a modern more healthier and more nutritious version of tangyuan.

As rice doesn't contain gluten, the dough is not elastic enough to handle. However, this problem is solved by adding two cooked dough pieces into the dough. It gives a marvelous "gluten-like" texture to the dough that makes it a lot easier to work with. The dough doesn't break easily now. I have learned this technique from a very sweet and kind Chinese lady.

Using 1 cup glutinous rice flour and 1/4 cup brown rice flour, we couldn't taste the brown rice flour at all and it tasted equally good. But we wanted to make it even healthier, and thus we use 3/4 cup of glutinous rice flour and 1/4 cup of brown rice flour. Anymore brown rice beyond this ration will make the dough heavy and not so tasty.

Brown rice is a rich source of phenols and flavonoids, two types of antioxidants that help reduce damage to cells and reduce the risk of premature aging. Brown rice also provides you with many vitamins and minerals: calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B1 (thiamine) and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).

It's a time consuming task. It took me 2.5 hours to make 50 tang yuan, including making the filling, excluding roasting the sesame seeds.

Often I use 3/4 cup of glutinous rice flour with 1/4 brown rice flour. This increases the wholewheat (and thus fiber) content of the tangyuan to 25% instead of 20% and it still tastes very good. With this portion, you should add 1/4 cup water plus 3 tablespoon water to make it into a dough.

If you want to make it even healthier, I use 2/3 cup of of glutinous rice flour with 1/3 brown rice flour. This increases the wholewheat (and thus fiber) content of the tangyuan to 33% instead of 20% and it still tastes very good. In this case, I use 75ml water. 

In general, the tangyuan can tolerate 20% - 33% brown rice and still tastes as good.

The sugar can be reduced to 90g for every 100g of sesame seeds.

References:


Measure 1 cup sesame seeds

Roast the sesame seeds on a pan on low-medium heat (no. 5.5 to 6 on my stove until it is fragrant)

Blend the roasted sesame seeds together with the sugar

Black sesame filling done :-)

You can store the sesame filling in an air-tight jar with lid in the fridge for a couple of months.

White glutinous rice flour

 Organic whole grain brown rice flour

Measure 1 cup glutinous rice flour (100g)

1 cup white glutinous rice flour

1/4 brown rice flour (30g)


Mix well

Add 1/2 cup water

Form into a dough

To increase the gluten of the dough, measure 10g, or simply make an estimated lump.

Fatten it. make another one.

When the water boils, add in the flat pieces and cook until they float on the surface of the water.

Add the two pieces of cooked dough into the raw dough

Mix well

Dough is done :-) Now it feels a lot more elastic and doesn't break easily.

Make it into a ball, flatten it and place the filling in the middle, then roll it into a ball again.

Here is an alternative and faster method to wrap tangyuan's filling:

Measure 8g of dough and roll into a ball.

Use your finger to impress a hole in the middle of the ball of dough.

Add the filling.

Close the opening with your finger by pushing up the dough.

Smoothen and roll it into a round ball and a tangyuan is done :-)

All done 25 of them :-)

Boil for 2 minutes or until they all float to the surface.

Now it's done :-) Scoop into a boil along with the water and enjoy :-)

To make green tang yuan, blend a handful of spinach with 1/2 cup of water


Sift to get the green liquid.

Add spinach liquid into the flour

Knead and mix well.

To make gluten for the dough, make 2 lumps of 10g each.

Flatten them.

Boil a pot of water and cook them.

They are done when the float to the surface.

Add it to the dough.

Knead and mix well.


Now it is done, you will notice that the dough is now much more elastic, just like wheat dough. The dough should not stick to your hand.

To make pink tang yuan, blend 4 pieces of beet root with 1/2 cup of water and add them to the flour.

To make gluten for the dough, make 2 lumps of 10g each.

Flatten them.

Boil them until they float to the surface.

Add them to the dough.

Mix well and now it's done. They are as elastic as any wheat dough.

Wrap the dough in food plastic and let them rest for 30 minutes. It will be easier to work with after resting.

Now to make tang yuan, take a lump of dough approx. 10 g and roll it into a ball.

Flatten it.

Add the filling.

Fold the dough around the filling into a ball.

Here is an alternative and faster method to wrap tangyuan's filling:

Measure 8g of dough and roll into a ball.

Use your finger to impress a hole in the middle of the ball of dough.

Add the filling.

Close the opening with your finger by pushing up the dough.

Smoothen and roll it into a round ball and a tangyuan is done :-)

Now the rice balls are done and ready to be cooked :-)

You can freeze the rice balls in the freezer for later use too.


When the water boils, add in the tang yuans



Scoop into serving boils along with some of the liquid



Leftover dough can be kept fresh in the fridge for 3 days.

If you wish to eat tang yuan in sweet soup, to make sweet ginger soup, add 2-3 slices of ginger and brown sugar in a pot.

Bring to boil until the brown sugar is dissolved.

Add the tang yuans and boil for 2 minutes until they float. Then turn off the fire.

Scoop into a serving bowl along with the soup. Enjoy :-)





13 March 2021


Memories from 14 January 2023 (13Y)







Memories from 15 January 2023 (6Y)

















24 Dec 2023: Ingredients for tangyuan for a friend :-)


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