Sunday, December 21, 2008

Tong Yuen

According to Wikipedia - "The Dōngzhì Festival or Winter Solstice Festival (Chinese: 冬至; Pinyin: dōng zhì; "The Extreme of Winter") is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese and other East Asians during the Dongzhi solar term on or around December 22 when sunshine is weakest and daylight shortest; i.e., on the first day of the Dongzhi solar term
The origins of this festival can be traced back to the Yin and Yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. After this celebration, there will be days with longer daylight hours and therefore an increase in positive energy flowing in. The philosophical significance of this is symbolized by the I Ching hexagram (復, "Returning").
Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is also a time for the family to get together. One activity that occurs during these get togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of Tangyuan (湯圓, Cantonese jyutping: tong1 jyun2; Mandarin Pinyin: Tāng Yuán) or balls of glutinuous rice, which symbolize reunion. "
According to what i have been told since i was a child that we must take these 'tong yuen' so that we will be a year older. I have not ate these balls for quite a while, no wonder I am not getting older - ha ha - how i wish.


1 lb glutinious flour mix with 2 tablespoon of sugar
1 cup of boiling water
1 cup of room temperature water
Pour hot water into glutinious flour and using a wooden spoon, mix the dough. Slowly add some room temperature water and keep adding water till you get a dough that doesn’t stick to your hand. (There is no firm and fast rule on the quantity of flour versus water. Just add flour or water to get the right consistency)

Once the dough is pliable, separate them into small portions and add food colourings.
Roll dough into tiny consistent size balls.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and drop in the balls. Once they float, they are cooked.
Prepare a big bowl of room temperature water that has been boiled. Scoop the tang yuan from the pot and put them in the bowl of water.

Cook rock sugar, ginger slices , pandan leaves and water to make a sweet syrup.
Cool syrup before adding in the cooked balls.
Serve at room temperature.



CRIZ LAI said...

I also cook this yesterday but a savoury version. :P

Unknown said...


i will try the savory next year.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Lily, the colors of your Tong Yuen are absolutely beautiful. Thanks for the information about the Dongzhi Festival.

Anonymous said...

In certain Chinese Indonesian community, we serve this dish for the bride and groom to symbolize the many children they will have....

Unknown said...


yes, in malaysia too, the night before the wedding the bride and groom have this soup too.

PEBBLES - the Lord's beloved said...

Hi Aunty Lily,

My family used to make our own tang yuen when my brothers and I were young. My mother's recipe is similar to yours.

We have stopped eating tang yuen because we are all "scared" to become 1 year older each time.... as such, we have remained "forever young"! :)

Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful year ahead.


Anonymous said...

Hi Aunty Lily

I've been an avid follower of your blog for a while now. A fellow Seremban-ian like yourself, I'm now living in Sydney and have been craving all sorts of Seremban food for a while now... till I found your blog! Thanks a lot for all the recipes!

One silly question, how much rock sugar/ginger/pandan/water do we use to make the syrup for the Tang Yuan?


Raymond Ng

Unknown said...


yes, we from seremban are passionate about our favorites, hakka mee and beef noodles. have you tried making them?

there is no recipe - if you like it sweeter, put more rock sugar, if it is too sweet, add water to get the correct sweetness. The same with ginger, it depends on your tastebuds, i like alot but a couple of slices will do. Pandan leaves are just flavoring

Anonymous said...

Hi Aunty Lily

Thanks for the prompt response. I just started appreciating the joys of cooking so I'm still quite the amateur (hence the silly questions). :)

So far, I've tried the Laksa, Mua Chee and Loh Mai Kai. Hakka Mee and Beef Noodles are definitely next on my hit list!

Cookie said...


I see that such traditions like Winter Solstice is well weaning in our modern society. Glad to see that you are keeping the traditional! I certainly want to instil that into my only son !


foongpc said...

Hi there! Just stumbled onto your blog. Are you previously from Malaysia? Cos a lot the food you blog about here are from Malaysia, or rather eaten in Malaysia.

I'm from Malaysia and although I'm a lousy cook, it's really nice to read all the recipes in your blog! : )

Unknown said...


yes, i was from malaysia and these are all the comfort food of home

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