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Sunday, December 27, 2020

Tang Yuan

You probably have seen photos of bowls of colorful rice balls (tang yuan) on social media and especially on December 21st/22nd every year when  the Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese the world over celebrate the Dongzhi festival. 


Tang yuan is a Chinese dessert that consists of sticky rice balls in a pandan and ginger infused syrup.

Tang yuan means "soup ball".

The dessert is traditionally enjoyed during Dongzhi, the Lantern Festival, at weddings and essentially any family reunion dinners.

These days, you can have tang yuan any time you want.  I always have a packet of those store-bought ones in my freezer.

But half the fun of eating tang yuan is in the rolling of those colorful balls! And especially back then  for boomer kids like us when play dough wasn't around!

Tastewise, I personally don't find the starchy and chewy balls amazing but I like eating them because they always evoke fond memories of my childhood with every bite.

Even as I'm writing this, I can almost smell the aroma of pandan and ginger wafting from the pot of bubbling syrup in my late grandma's kitchen where we all gathered to make tang yuan.

While Grandma and the aunts worked on the dough, me, my sisters and the cousins would be seated around a huge marble table and tasked with shaping the balls.

Every now and then, one of the aunts would inspect our handiwork to ensure that the tang yuan were roughly of the same size and most importantly, perfectly round as Grandma was a stickler of tradition. The spherical shape of the tang yuan  and the bowls in which they were served symbolized family togetherness and completeness.

Ha! I think my purist grandma would roll in her grave if she were to see the spin people put on tang yuan these days!

Great balls of fires! Square tang yuan??!!  I see Grandma spinning in her grave!
image credit - Pinterest

image credit - crave4sweet

image credit - crave4sweet

image credit - simi.huang

image credit - osemhomecook

Many hands make light work.
image source - The Star

45 comments:

Diana said...

A very interesting dessert. I like the way they look - especially the balls that have such cute shapes.
Beautiful childhood memories always help our soul.
All the best, Veronica. 😊

Thank you for the information about this tradition. Everything is so new for me!

betty said...

Had not ever heard of these so obviously have not had them either, but I did enjoy reading about them and seeing the unique takes on the shapes rather than the traditional round ones. What fun that must have been to roll the balls while you were surrounded with family :)

Happy New Year!

betty

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Somehow I think your grandmother would approve of the innovations. It is quite wonderful when food evokes happy memories of childhood.

Schwabenfrau said...

I just had to laugh because they write that grandma is turning around in her grave. I also can't imagine that the balls taste that great. But I really like ginger in my food.
The dice are soooo great.
Happy New Year and greetings Eva

Lin said...

I understand the tradition...but the little animal shapes are so cute!! But then I would feel guilty eating them.

It's funny how we still eat the things from our childhood just for the memories. We do the same here.

Junie-Jesh said...

It looks like a fun festival (I did not know about), especially the Domino squares, haha. But all the figures made from these rice balls are fun to look at:) Many thanks for sharing the making of of these delectable balls at this festival! A fun event for All Seasons! Have a great week, Jesh

NCSue said...

These are so much fun! And the name suits them so well!
Thanks for sharing at https://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2020/12/going-buggy.html

Birgitta said...

Like these! Interesting!

stevebethere said...

These are brilliant I would love to try some what a nice post :-)

Happy New Year Veronica best wishes for a safe 2021 from London :-)

Michele Morin said...

Funny to think of scandalized ancestors as we adapt traditions. 😄

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

The little animals are adorable!

Amila said...

Very interesting dessert servings with cute little findings...
I wish you a Happy & Safe New Year!

Tom said...

...such colorful variations.

Phil Slade said...

Well I'm very sorry Veronica but I have never heard of Tang Yuan. But it all looks very exciting and colourful for children and for adults.

bill burke said...

Beautiful tradition, I haaven't heard of this before but would love to try it. Your grandmother would be happy seeing that the tradion has continued and with new additions, Great memories are always a pleasure.
Have a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year.

Giorgio said...

Great post! I have never heard of that nice East Asian traditional Tang yuan.

Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your point of view through your comment.

Meditations in Motion said...

When I saw your cover photo, I thought they were melon balls! All the different shapes and colors are so pretty - almost too pretty to eat. Now I want to try them! :) Happy New Year!

Suzana said...

Very interesting traditions! Looks complicated to do. But I think they test delicious!
Thank you for sharing them!
A Happy New Year and Happy WW, Veronica!

magiceye said...

Wow! Thos are some lovely creative takes on the original.

betty-NZ said...

How incredibly creative are these rice balls!

A fantastic addition to 'My Corner of the World' this week! May the new year bring you great things to photograph!

Memories of Eric and Flynn said...

I don't know that I would enjoy the rice balls, but the ginger syrup sounds good. I love the shapes that have been made.

My GBGV Life said...

Tradition is a great thing to stick with, but some of the creativity with the balls is also amazing!

handmade by amalia said...

Way too cute to eat. Happy New Year!
Amalia
xo

Kinga K. said...

Great tradition ❤

aspiritofsimplicity said...

They certainly are colourful!! I love ginger so they sound yummy to me.

Fernanda Mattos said...

Gostei bastante do artigo, muito bom mesmo! Estou amando ler seus artigos e compartilhar com os amigos!


Meu Blog: Como funciona o Gbet Sports?

Sandee said...

I'm in. I'll try all of it. Beautiful colors.

Thank you for joining the Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop.

Have a fabulous Wordless Wednesday and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. Big hug. ♥

Keith's Ramblings said...

What amazing creations. My favourite? The fish!

Giorgio said...

May you have a nice New Year's Eve

Heidi R. said...

Little sweet works of art are with the rice balls. I like this! I wish you a very 'Silvester' and a happy new year!

Klara said...

I've never seen/heard of them. interesting post. it must be fun to do them in company.

XmasDolly said...

Well, isn't this interesting. I'm sure the children must love it for sure I know my grandkids would. Anyway, I hope you had a great Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you. My blog has moved & here's my new address... https://newxmasdolly.blogspot.com/2020/12/winter-is-here-ww.html hugs, Marie

Priya said...

Loved reading this and the pictures make it really interesting.
Traditional dishes do make us nostalgic and you're right..granmas wont like straying this far from tradition :)

Forgetfulone said...

Very cool! Some of those look like they were time-consuming to make. Who has that kinda time? LOL

mail4rosey said...

Those look fun to play with, when it comes to designs. The fish were cracking me up (cute!). I feel the same way about certain foods...maybe not so wonderful, but full of good memories, so I enjoy them from time to time anyway. :) Here to wish you a wonderful new year!

Kirsi schreibt said...

It's a really interesting und colourful dessert ;-)
You and your Family a happy new and healthy new Year!
We'll read us in 2021, greetings from Germany
Kirsi

Claire Justine said...

These look very interesting :) Happy New Year.

Monika Ohson | TravelerInMe said...

This is a beautiful share Veronica. It is interesting to know about traditions that is absolutely new for me.

Kids find joy in such simple things, right :) The colorful balls do look pretty. While I agree your Grandma would have been shocked to see the presentation of tang-yuan, but some of them do look cute.

Happy New Year Veronica.

Mica said...

I haven't heard of this tradition but it sounds lovely with all the family getting involved and it looks so cute and colourful! :)

Happy new year! Hope 2021 is off to a good start for you :)

Away From Blue

Mellie said...

Interesting. I have never heard of this dessert. The animal shapes are so cute. Almost too cute to eat. Happy New Year, Veronica!

The Candid Cover said...

Yummy!! I love the ones shaped like animals! :)

Mayor Sonni said...

The ones with "the spin" are so cute. I also eat some things from my childhood just for the memories. It helps to keep them close.

Dropping by from the Traffic Jam Weekend Linky Party.

Being A Wordsmith said...

Thank you for sharing this on Traffic Jam Weekend! It has been chosen as a fave feature for this week's party that goes live on Thursday at 5:00 pm CST.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Aww, I like the story of little girl you and the others rolling the round “soup balls” and I like what they symbolize!

An Apel a Day said...

The fish are so cute. Well they all are, but that's the one I would choose.