Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls with Red Bean Paste Filling)
Traditionally a special occasion dish that signifies family union, tang yuan (glutinous rice balls with red bean paste filling) can be fried or boiled.Ready made sticky rice balls in various colors, as well as sweet red bean paste, are available in some Asian groceries especially around the time of the Lunar New Year. In this recipe, the rice balls and filling are made from scratch. Hence, the long cooking time indicated.Tang yuan is served with sugar syrup flavored with pandan and ginger.
Slow cooker red bean paste
- 250 grams red mung beans
- ½ cup sugar (see notes after the recipe)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup glutinous rice flour
- 1 pinch salt
Make the read bean paste
- Rinse the red mung beans several times and drain.
- Place the beans in the slow cooker, pour in enough water to cover them by four inches, and cook on LOW for eight hours.
- Using an immersion blender, puree the red mung beans into a paste.
- Transfer the pureed beans to a pot (it will still appear thin at this point), add the sugar and salt, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the mixture is a thick paste.
- Cool the red bean filling.
Make the syrup
- In a small pan, stir together the sugar and salt with a cup of water.
- Drop in the pandan leaves and ginger slices.
- Cook over high heat for five minutes.
- Leave to cool (do not remove the pandan leaves and ginger).
Make the rice balls
- In a bowl, stir just enough water into the glutinous rice flour to form a dough.
- Divide the dough into three portions.
- Add a few drops of red food color to one portion of the dough and knead until uniformly incorporated.
- Add a few drops of yellow food color to another portion of the dough and knead until the coloring is even.
- Divide each portion of the dough into one-inch balls.
- Flatten each ball in the palm of your hand, place teaspoonful of read bean paste at the center and gather the edges to seal in the filling.
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Drop in the rice balls (see notes after the recipe) and cook until they float to the surface.
Serve the tang yuan
- Scoop out the rice balls and divide among four bowls.
- Ladle syrup over the balls and serve.
How much sugar you need for the red bean paste depends on how sweet you want it. You may use less or more than half a cup. Since only one pot was used to cook the rice balls, the white ones were boiled first, then the yellow ones and, finally, the red ones. That’s to prevent the colored rice balls from bleeding into the white ones.