Kindred

Tang Yuan

I mentioned in passing to cousin Y that I missed having rice dumplings (汤圆) a few days after Winter Solstice last December when I met her to give her a loaf of my stollen. I had thought that her family didn’t prepare it while she thought I was overseas. And so we didn’t hook up to gorge ourselves silly (we are probably the only two in the family who absolutely go ga-ga over these rice dumplings, done Teochew style with ginger soup).

She promised to make them for me come Lunar New Year when I visit. I didn’t think much of the promise because well… this cousin is quite a bit of a scatterbrain, and after having two children, she has somewhat gotten worse. But she did remember, and woke up early this morning to make it. My aunt her mother has a very complicated secret recipe we two can’t quite follow to a T because she remembers recipes by heart, and the steps were always a little different when we made it different years with her chaperoning. I can’t quite recall the recipe now, but I do remember it involves working the dough with boiling hot water, a step I loathed.

Today’s rice dumplings tasted absolutely weird because of a little kitchen accident – my cousin added in too much water and didn’t have enough rice flour to compensate. So she added in normal flour, which adversely affected the texture of the rice dumplings. She was apologetic; my aunt skeptical; and my other cousin amused. I tasted the rice dumplings with a huge serving of the ginger soup, and agreed it tasted just a teeny-weeny bit weird, and too hard. Other than that, it was almost like the real McCoy. I went on to have a second helping of the rice dumplings, and my cousin lost some of the frown on her face. For some reason, she is exactly like my aunt – both love to feed me.

We really should sit my aunt down and record down her exact recipe before she completely forgets.

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7 thoughts on “Kindred

  1. zentrek says:

    I love this type of tang yuan too and my mum would cook for us when my brother and I were kids. Maybe it is a teochew family thing. She stopped when we were older. Wanted to make it last winter solstice but completely missed the date. Recently ate it at the unlikeliest of places – a hawker stall at East Coast selling traditional desserts. Had the tang yuan with ginger soup and warmth of the soup brought back precious memories.

    • genn says:

      I grew up with this type of tang yuan and knew no other type till I got to know about Ah Balling. Have never seen this type being sold outside though. Must make time to try the one at East Coast.

  2. mummyshymz says:

    oooh, the traditional ones are the best. I only knew about Ah Balling recently too. I remember my mum using boiling water and my hands turning pink from the dye…. got to try doing it someday

    • genn says:

      Yea, really love this version. I remember it being very hot to work the dough, and my aunt telling me I’ve gotta suffer a little if I want to eat my favourite dessert. We should compare our recipes! My aunt keeps forgetting this and that. Every single time we ask her, the recipe is a little different lol.

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