Glutinous rice balls in sweet syrup is an Asian dessert usually enjoyed during the Winter Solstice Festival. Also known as 'kuih ee' by the Peranakan community or 'tang yuan' (湯圓) in Mandarin, they are made either plain or with filling.
Basic glutinous rice balls or tang yuan are made out of glutinous rice flour, water and sugar. Sometimes, a slice of ginger is added to the syrup for a hint of spice.
When do people eat tang yuan?
Winter Solstice Festival is regarded as the beginning of a new year and celebrated widely by the Chinese community. The round glutinous rice balls symbolize family unity. It is even more meaningful to have the whole family gathered together to make these glutinous rice balls. This dessert is also served to the bridal couple during the wedding.
Filling of glutinous rice balls
Traditionally, these glutinous rice balls are made without any filling. In recent years, many types of flavours such as peanuts, Kaya (coconut jam), red bean paste or black sesame have surfaced. Nonetheless, I am very much conservative when it comes to the originality of this dessert which is to have it plain. However, I do admit that I am quite smitten with those that consist of black sesame too.
How to prepare glutinous rice balls in advanced?
If you are planning to make this a day before, place them on a layer of plastic wrap. Cover the plate of glutinous rice balls with another layer of plastic wrap to prevent them from drying up.
Otherwise, lay the glutinous rice balls on a layer of plastic wrap and freeze them. Remove them from the plastic wrap once they are frozen and store them in an air tight container or plastic food bags.