Tāngyuán Day (recipe for Tāngyuán aka Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls) – gluten-free

Tāngyuán is one of my favorite desserts.

It is a simple yet delicious dessert traditionally eaten on Lantern Festival day, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year (February 17th of this year). Given that we have places to go this year, my family thought it would be a good idea to make them early, so we made and ate Tāngyuán, this weekend.

Most of the time, I just eat the Tāngyuán that one of my relatives made or get them from a shop/restaurant, but this is a special year for me because this is my year and I volunteered to make this by hand because I remember making this when I was younger and having  a blast rolling them in my hands. (Yes, I am a hare. Are you really that surprise? Lol.) Anyway, I asked one of my parents for the recipe because I forgot and found out that it was super easy to make. You can buy the ingredients at almost any Asian markets and the rest you can find in your own cupboard.  And by the way, rice flour is a gluten-free food, so this is okay to eat if you are following a gluten-free diet.

Glutinous Rice Flour

Almost done!

What you will need:

  • 1 package of glutinous rice flour (makes about approx. 40-50 Tāngyuán depending on how big or small you roll them)
  • 1 jar of sesame spread OR 1 can of red bean paste (these are fillings..read my note on the bottom about fillings.)
  • 3/4 + cup of water (this is more of an estimate, you will need more water than this)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 of a ginger root, cut up and smashed (to release the aroma and flavor) If you are worried about it being not pretty, you can put into a bit of cheese cloth and tie it up and then scoop out later from the soup. Clean and simple.
  • Optional: a couple of Longan (dry ones are fine and these are just added in for aroma and enhance flavoring)

Tāngyuán Recipe

1.) Empty bag of glutinous flour into a mixing bowl

2.) Add in 3/4 cup of water and mix

3.) Knead. Make sure that the dough is not too hard nor too sticky. If the dough is too hard, it needs a bit more water, but don’t put too much in because if it has too much water, then you will need to put more glutinous flour in to firm it up. Basically, you will know the dough is ready when it’s becomes a soft to the touch, but without being too sticky.

4.) Get a fistful of dough and roll it on your hand and cut out little pieces about 1.5 to 2 inches. Don’t worry if this is a bit bigger, you don’t have to be too precise, but the bigger the dough ball the better if you are just starting out because the filling can get tricky.

5.) After you get all the dough cut into specific size, you roll them in the middle of your palm into a ball. Then using your palm, you flatten the ball so that it’s flat and you can then fill it with filling. (See picture)

6.) Fill the middle of the flatten rice ball with a bit of filling. Don’t try to cram too much in because you will have to carefully fold it up and then roll it in your hands, so that it becomes a ball again. (If you put too much filling in, it will burst open and you will get filling on the dough, in your hands, and creating a big mess.)

7.) Fill a pot with water (about 3-4 cups) and let it boil. (Pot #1)

8.) Fill another pot with water (about 4-5 cups) and let it boil. (Pot #2) When it boils, Put in the 1/2 cup of brown sugar, all the ginger, and the optional Longan.

9.) When the water is boiling in Pot #1, carefully drop each Tāngyuán in the pot, carefully stir once to make sure it’s not sticking. You may have to do this in batches if you have a lot of Tāngyuán. But don’t worry, they are really quick to cook.

10) Once you see the Tāngyuán float up in Pot #1**, it’s done. You can then transfer the Tāngyuán into Pot #2 and let it soak in the syrup for about 2-3 minutes. Then it’s time to serve it up in your favorite cup/bowl.

The final product!

**You can discard the water in Pot #1.

*Fillings: You can have whatever sweet fillings you like in these, but traditionally, it’s usually lotus paste, black sesame paste, red bean (azuki) paste. I prefer black sesame or red bean (azuki) paste.

I had a great time making this at home today and I hope you do, too. Enjoy and let me know how it goes for you. 🙂



4 responses to “Tāngyuán Day (recipe for Tāngyuán aka Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls) – gluten-free

  1. Wow, this really sounds delicious. I’ve never made anything like this yet I am definitely intrigued. Great post as usual foodtable.

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