Monthly Archives: October 2008

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Tang yuan(yuanxiao)

1. What is tangyuan and why do Chinese eat it?

Tang Yuan or Yuanxiao is the special food Chinese people eat at the Lantern Festival .Lantern festival is also known as “yuanxiao” festival, which is a traditional festival in china. It is said that the custom of eating tangyuan originated during the Eastern Jin Dynasty in the fourth century, which became popular during the Tang and Song Dynasty. The round shape of the tangyuan is a symbol of wholeness, completeness and unity. What’s more, tangyuan in Chinese has a similar pronunciation with “tuanyuan”, meaning reunion. So people eat them to denote union, harmony and happiness for their family. <

2. What’s the difference between yuanxiao and tangyuan?
It is usually called as yuanxiao in north china while named as tangyuan in south china. It is small round dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour with rose petals, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and edible oil as fillings. The way to make Yuanxiao also varies between northern and southern China. The biggest difference is that the common method used in northern provinces is to pinches the fillings into even balls ,then put them on the basket which is filled with dry glutinous rice flour, and constantly shake them from time to time by adding water into it to coat the yuanxiao with glutinous rice flour. once the size is moderate ,it will surely have a rich fragrant taste both in fruit and rice! Meanwhile the method to follow in southern provinces is to shape the dough of rice flour into balls, make a hole, insert the filling, then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between your hands which will also have an amazing taste.
3. What can be used as fillings?
Yuanxiao can be classified into filled and unfilled ones. The filled yuanxiao are either sweet or salty. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, Walnuts, sesame Sweet osmanthus flowers, peanuts, red bean paste, or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables dried shrimp or a mixture. Tangyuan can be boiled, fried or steamed. It tastes sweet and delicious.

4. Tips on how to boil tangyuan?
1. Before putting yuanxiao into the pot, pinch the yuanxiao gently to have it cracked slightly which will surely help boil yuanxiao both inside and outside to have a delicious taste.
2. Use boiled water: fist put some water in the pot wait until it boiled then slowly put yuanxiao into water, but remember don’t put too many at a time otherwise it’s not easy to boil. Meanwhile use spoon to gently push yuanxiao around in one direction so that they cannot be stick together.
3. Add cold water: In the process of spoiling yuanxiao, every time the water boiled you are supposed to add some cold water in it, so as to keep the slightly rolling situation to insure the yuanxiao will be separated and the cover will not be broken as well. After boiled 2-3 times then wait for a while and you will have the yuanxiao ready for eat.
4. Distinguish whether it’s raw or cooked: you could use both you eyes and fingers: first look whether its cover is smooth while floating on the water surface or not, then use chopsticks to press down on them to see whether they are softer. If so, it’s time to eat the masterpiece you have just made!
5. Taken out of the pot quickly: After already boiled thoroughly if the yuanxiao cannot be eaten once only, it should be taken out of the pot in time, and put into pure boiled water, after cooling, put them in the plate for next time eating.