Celebrate Chinese New Year with these Sesame Glutinous Rice Dumplings (Tang Yuan)! They are little gooey dumplings stuffed with a sweet black sesame filling. Little nutty with a roasted flavor and little sweet.
Chinese New Year is just 2 days away (Friday)! 2018 is the year of dog. Even though I no longer live in Hong Kong, I try to keep a little bit of the tradition in my home. I decorated the house with a few good luck phrases over the weekend. We record greeting video and picture for the families. Tomorrow, I’m going to make turnip cakes. And these homemade sesame dumplings would be the perfect ending for the festive celebration.
Glutinous rice dumplings (Tang Yuan 湯圓) are dessert dumplings that are stuffed with sweet fillings, like red bean, peanut or sesame. They are usually served on the last day of Chinese New Year (the 15th day), Lantern Festival. Chinese believes the round dumplings symbolize family togetherness, which will bring happiness to the family. There is also another version of these dumplings that do not have filling, but coat with sesame seeds on the outside. My mom’s side of the family serve them on New Year day. Different Chinese regions do things slightly different.
This dumpling dough is made with glutinous rice flour, aka sticky rice flour. The texture of the dough is a little chewy, but soft at the same time. If you have mochi before, that is pretty much the same texture. The filling that I use in this recipe is black sesame, which is my favorite. It’s basically ground sesame seeds and sugar that bind together with a little bit of fat (butter or lard). It turned into a thick paste, which can be rolled into little balls. Freeze them, so the filling won’t fall apart easily and they will be easier to wrap in the dough.
The dumplings are served in a sweet soup. The soup is sweeten with brown sugar bricks (made from cane sugar) and ginger. It’s warm and slightly sweet, which is almost like a sweet tea. When taking a bite of the dumpling, you first get the chewy dough and then, the hot nutty filling starts to burst out. It is nutty with a savory and roasted flavor. Can’t ask for a better dessert for Chinese New Year!
Wish you and your families a healthy and happy new year!
恭喜發財! 萬事如意! 身體健康!
Homemade Sesame Glutinous Rice Dumplings (Tang Yuan)
Yield 23 dumplings
- 100 grams black sesame seeds
- 90 grams sugar
- 65 grams unsalted butter (melted)
- 2 cups glutinous rice flour
- 110 milliliters boiling water
- 100 milliliters cold water
- 4½ cups water
- 4 (1-inch) thin ginger slices (cut the skin off)
- 1 brown sugar pieces (brick)
- In a large skillet over medium heat, add the black sesame seeds (do not use any oil). Heat for 3 – 5 minutes until fragrant, stirring often. If you bought roasted sesame seeds, just toast them quickly for 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate to cool completely, at least 1½ hours.
- In a food processor or blender, add the cooled black sesame seeds. Process until fine (as fine as you can). Transfer to a medium bowl. Add sugar and mix well. Add melted butter and combine. Divide the paste into 23 portions. Roll and squish them into little balls. Transfer to freezer and chill for at least 1 hour.
- When the filling is ready, work on the dough. In a large bowl, add glutinous rice flour. Carefully add the boiling water. Stirring with a wooden spoon until some clumps formed. Add cold water and stir to incorporate everything. Mix with hand. If there is still dry flour on the bottom of the bowl, it needs more water. Add 1 teaspoon cold water and mix again. If it’s still too dry, repeat the process. The dough should be smooth. Knead for a couple minutes.
- Divide the dough into 23 portions, about 20 grams each. Cover the dough with a moist towel. Roll each portion into a ball and pat into a small pancake (about 4-inch in diameter). Place one frozen filling in the middle. Carefully wrap the filling with the dough and roll into a ball. Transfer to a large plate and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- The dumplings can be used right away. You can also keep them in the fridge in a ziploc bag if using within a few hours. If not, freeze in a ziploc bag and use within a couple weeks.
- For the sweet soup, in a medium pot, bring the water to boil in high heat.
- Meanwhile, put the ginger slices on the chopping board. Smash the ginger with the side of a knife to release the ginger juice and flavor.
- Once the water is boiling, put in ginger slices and half of sugar (break the sugar with the back of a knife). When the sugar has melted, taste to try. Adjust the sweetness to your likeness.
- Take the dumplings out of the fridge or freezer, about 2 – 3 dumplings per person. Carefully place them in the boiling liquid. Reduce the heat to low. To make sure the dumplings do not stick to the bottom of the pot, use a spoon to scoop them lightly. Wait until they float on the water. Once they are floating, cook for 2 more minutes (from fridge) or 3 – 4 minutes (from freezer). Transfer the dumplings and soup to serving bowls. Serve immediately.
- Brown sugar brick is a big piece of hard cane sugar. It tastes like brown sugar. Here is a picture of how they look like. You can find them in Chinese or Vietnamese supermarkets.
- Black sesame seeds, and glutinous rice flour can be found in Chinese supermarkets, like 99 Ranch.
- When grounding the black sesame seeds, it's better to process as fine as you can do. That way, the filling will be smoother. Even if you can't, they will still taste great.
- These dumplings are best to serve as soon as possible. Cracks could form when freezing. But as long as the filling don't burst out while cooking, you are fine.
- Frozen dumplings can be used immediately. No thawing is needed.
(Adapted from Eupho Cafe)