The fifteen day of the Luna New Year is known as the day of lantern festival (元宵). The most traditional food for this special day is ‘tang yuan’ dumplings (汤圆), or glutinous rice balls. ‘Tang’ means soup, ‘yuan’ (圆) means round, a symbol for fulfillment and family reunion. Tang yuan dumplings can be served as a sweet dessert with syrup, or as savory soup. Some years ago, my sister made a savory TangYuan soup that was really tasty. I had a go this year.
I first made the chicken stock white cook style. This means slow cook a whole chicken in water to get delicious chicken meat and a mild broth. Ginger and green shallot were added to enhance the flavor. Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps were added later to the broth, together with garlic chive, enoki mushrooms, bok choy and white cooked chicken meat.
The TangYuan was made with glutinous rice flour and hot water, mix and roll, pretty simple.
Recipe is as follows:
Tang yuan dumplings
- 2 cup of glutinous rice flour
- 1 cup of boiling water
- a little cooking oil (optional)
- To make the Tang yuan dumplings, place glutinous rice flour in a large bowl; gradually add hot water (just boiled) at the same time stir the mixture with a pair of chopsticks towards one circular direction; you may need a little more or less water, depending on the flour; once the flour is pretty much mixed with the water; leave it aside to cool briefly until it is cool enough to handle.
- Bring the dough together, by kneading with your hand
- Roll the dough out to a snake and cut into bite-size pieces; dust your palms with glutinous rice flour and roll the a small piece of dough into a small ball; repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to boil; add a little cooking oil if desired (optional); drop in the rice balls in small batch; stir constantly so the balls won’t stick together; once the balls float to the top of the water, they are mostly cooked; cook for further 1-2 minute depending on the size of the dough.
- Drain the rice balls with a sieve; immediately soak the rice balls in a large bowl of cold water.
Poached chicken and stock
- 1 whole free range chicken (you can taste the difference)
- 1 l piece of ginger (quantity to your liking)
- 20g shallot (quantity to your liking)
- 1 tsp of salt
- Bring a large pot (preferably a good quality stock pot with a heavy base and a lid) of water to boil; add salt, ginger, shallot and the whole chicken (breast side down); make sure the water covers the chicken completely; you may need to put a place over the chicken to keep it down in the water.
- Bring the pot of water to boil again; turn off heat, close the lid and leave the pot aside for 2hours
- After 2 hours, turn the chicken over, bring it to boil again; leave it aside for another 1 hour;
- After 1 hour, bring the chicken to boil again; turn off the heat and check if the chicken is cooked. If not fully cooked, gently simmer at low heat it until it is cooked.
- Once the chicken is cooked; remove the chicken from the pot to cool
- Pull and thread the meat off the chicken
- Pour the broth into another pot via a sieve to remove any impurity. This is the chicken broth base.
- 1/4 cup of dried shrimps or shrimp shells, washed
- 6 – 12 medium Chinese mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes to 1 hour to soften (time required will depend on the type of mushrooms), remove stems, thinly sliced
- meat of 1 chicken, pulled (see above ‘poached chicken and stock’)
- 1 small bunch of bok choy, washed, split off the green leaves
- 30g garlic chive, washed and cut in to 1 inch length (optional)
- 1 enoki mushroom, remove stalk, separate the needles, washed (optional)
- 20g red capsicum, thinly sliced (optional)
- 2 tbsp. green shallot, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. coriander, roughly sliced
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- 2 tbsp. light soy sauce (use a GF soy sauce for a GF option)
- salt and white pepper to taste
- sesame seeds, to garnish (optional)
- a little cooking oil (to blanch the bok choy)
- Blanch the bok choy briefly in a pot of hot water with a little cooking oil; drain and leave aside to cool.
- In a saucepan, bring the chicken stock, dried shrimps and Chinese mushrooms to boil; turn the heat to low and simmer the broth for 20-30 minutes with a lid on; add sesame oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste; turn off the heat and add garlic chive, capsicum and enoki mushroom; remove from heat
- In individual bowls, add some tang yuan dumplings, a few bok choy greens, some chicken meat, , shallot and coriander; pour over some hot soup (with some of the yummy bits the soup); garnish with some sesame seeds. Serve hot.