Hi everyone, I would like to start of by wishing you Happy Winter Solstice Festival! Winter Solstice festival is also known as “Dong Zhi” (“冬至”) or ”Yuan Xiao Jie” (“元宵节”) and falls during the month of December, usually the 21st or 22nd. During this day, colored or plain white glutinous rice balls; or widely known as “Tang Yuan” (“汤圆”) cooked in sweet soup are served. Like Thanksgiving, which marks the end of a glorious year; during Winter Solstice is the day family gathered around, be grateful and thank the blessings throughout we have received throughout the year. Each family member will get a bowl of rice balls with syrup water; at least one big rice balls and few small ones.
You can read more about “Dong Zhi” on the Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongzhi_Festival
The glutinous rice balls are really easy to make – it is the technique that matters. The core ingredients to make the rice balls are glutinous rice flour, water and your favorite color. You can opt to fill the rice balls with red bean, peanut or black sesame paste, or just go plain as it is. As for the syrup water, the ingredients would be pandan leaves, ginger knob, sugar and water. To make the rice balls “springy” instead of doughy/clumpy, the temperature of the water and syrup needs to be watched over carefully.
I normally start by cooking the syrup water in a pot, then adjourn to making the rice balls, cooked them before placing them into the syrup water.
To make the Syrup Water:
- Prepare ingredients: 4 cups water, 2 cups sugar, 2 pandan leaves tied in a knot, a thumb size ginger knob
- Place all ingredients in a pot and let it boil for 10 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to lowest and keep the syrup water in constant warm.
To make the Rice Balls:
- Prepare ingredients: 2 cups glutinous rice flour, 1 cup water, food color of your choice (I used red and yellow).
- Place the rice flour in a big bowl. Gradually add the water and keep kneading till a dough is formed.
- Separate the dough into 3 portions, leave a portion as is to make white colored rice balls. In the other two portions, add food coloring to each of them and knead the color into the dough till it evens out.
- Take a pinch of the dough and shape it round using both palms to make rice balls. Set them aside on a big plate.
- To cook the rice balls, prepare another pot filled with water and bring it to boil. When the water boils, add the rice balls, one by one into the water. The rice balls will float when it is cooked. Using a cooking skimmer, ladle the rice balls and place it into the warm syrup water pot.