Happy Winter Solstice Festival 2007!

Good evening, dear friends 😀

Today is the Winter Solstice Festival (called “Tung Jit” in Cantonese), which is a grand festival celebrated by the Chinese worldwide. It is symbolised by the making, cooking and eating of little marble-sized glutinous rice balls called “Tong Yuen”, which is served in a bowl of sugar syrup that has been boiled with a few pandan leaves. Traditionally, the Tong Yuens are in colours of white and pink, but I had coloured mine with yellow and green as well to make them more exciting! 😆 The roundness of the rice balls symbolise “completeness” and “unity”.

The Chinese began celebrating the Winter Solstice as a festival back during the Han Dynasty in China, around 206 B.C. The Winter Solstice in the Solar Calendar is the day when sunlight is the weakest and the daylight shortest. Relatives and friends would give each other delicious food that they have cooked. I have given my Indian neighbours a casserole of the Tong Yuens in sugar syrup, which their young children really enjoy. 😀

This festival is a gathering of family members to chip in together and shape these rice balls, often an occasion for the reunion of loved ones. Usually, the matriarch of the family will lead in this “rice ball rolling” tradition. In my case, as both my parents and parents-in-law have passed away, I am the matriach of my family and this year, I only have my 2 sons to help me. Hehe, being boys, their attention span was short lived and I ended up rolling the majority of the 500 Tong Yuens! 🙄 Nevertheless, we had fun together.

For the recipes, please READ HERE

Rolled “Tong Yuens” before cooking –



Bowls of colourful cooked Tong Yuens in sugar syrup –



Hehe, feeding Kitty a Tong Yuen…. 🙄 😆


My Winter Solstice Festival Dinner –


For my festival dinner today, I cooked some of the traditional festival dishes that I had learned from my late mother-in-law. Here is my Winter Solstice Festival menu –

1) Treasure Soup


– hehe, I gave the soup this name as there were many types of ingredients diced and then boiled for a while in chicken stock. It has many colours, like jewels in a bowl, and hence the name. I had put in diced shitake mushrooms, canned button mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, white fungus, peas, corn, and pork. The chicken stock was pre-boiled with one old, female chicken for 3 hours. Actually, the Chinese name of this soup is “Lap Lap Tong.”

2) My Mother-in-law’s Curry Chicken Recipe


– this was a recipe that I had learned from her 20 years ago and this dish is a must-have on special occasions for my husband.

3) Steamed Salted Chicken


– as my eldest daughter doesn’t take spicy food (curries), I cooked this for her but my family loves the smooth, tender taste of this chicken, too. I marinated 2 large chicken legs with 2 tbsps of salt overnight and they were steamed over a slow fire (actually I had put a steamer over my simmering soup), thus resulting in juicy, perfectly done chicken. They were left to cool when done, and I rubbed more salt and a tbsp of sesame oil – hence the name “Salted chicken”. They were cut into pieces before serving.

I also serve this same type of chicken when I cook Hainanese Chicken Rice for my family. Later, I will write the recipe for you as I also have my mother-in-law’s yummy version of it. It is a special sauce that my family (especially my kids) loves very much and we don’t see this sauce served with chicken rice elsewhere.

4) Fuzhou Fish Balls


– Fuzhou fish balls are unique in that there is some minced pork filling in the centre of the fish balls, thus making them very interesting and tasty to eat. I cooked them with some chicken stock (taken from the simmering chicken soup), sliced button mushrooms and snap peas.

5) Deep Fried Garlic Pork Slices


– this is easy to make with some pork belly sliced into thin strips and marinated with some soy sauce, lots of chopped garlic, wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper. The wine and cornstarch will tenderize the meat. Then the pork is dipped in flour, then egg, and lastly breadcrumbs before deep frying. They taste best when served with mayonnaise and chili sauce. Oh, I also have lots of sliced cucumber (cucumber has “cooling” properties) on the side to balance the “heatiness” of this fried dish. 😉

6) Hokkien Mee (Thick Egg Noodles in Black Sauce)


– my husband is from the Hokkien province and therefore, we always have Hokkien Mee on special occasions or festivals. It is thick yellow egg noodles cooked with a variety of meats, chicken gravy,black soy sauce, cabbage and sawi greens. The yummy and special ingredient that makes this dish heavenly is deep fried, crispy pork fat/lard!

7) Tong Yuen (Glutinous Rice Balls)


– as this is the Winter Solstice Festival, this was our dessert. 😉

Wow, everyone is now stuffed full from this festival feasting….in a few more days, I will be cooking Roast Turkey with all the trimmings for our Christmas Eve dinner. Right now, I am relaxing in front of the comp, sipping many cups of strong Green Tea to help with the digestion and cut some of the fat. 😆

Later, I will provide the recipes in more detail for the above dishes.

Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings, everyone! 😀


13 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    rose said,

    My dearest friend! 🙂

    Happy Winter Solstice Festival and bon appetit for the great dinner!

    love and hugs,rose


  2. 2

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Te Pups, my dearest Rose! 😀

    Thank you for your lovely wishes! Hehe, I just brought down my frozen turkey from the freezer to the chiller section to defrost slowly….tomorrow, I will be celebrating a Christmas Eve Dinner with you all! 😉

    Merry Christmas!

    Many hugs and love,

    choesf 😀


  3. 3

    Kay said,

    Amazing, yummie, colorful!


  4. 4

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Welcome and Happy Winter Solstice Festival, Kay 😀

    Thank you for your lovely comments! Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year! 😀

    With peace and joy,

    choesf 😀


  5. 5

    chowgord said,

    There is a lot of love and attention put into the making of these dishes. Not only are they appealing;I am sure they are great! I would love to have the receipes as I would l;ike to tried these. I love the philosophy of family helping and bringing together the family. As I am also of Chinsese background I appreciate the history.


  6. 6

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hello there and welcome, chowgord 😀

    Thank you for your lovely comments. Yes, getting the family members to chip in and bring together a feast and then eating together is a wonderful way to bond. 😉 For every Chinese festival that we celebrate, my husband and I will explain the history behind it to our children so that they will not lose their ancestors’ Chinese culture as they are of 3rd generation descent as Malaysians. I write more on the above recipes next week as meanwhile, I am preparing for my Christmas Eve Turkey Dinner. 😆 So, stay tuned….

    Come Chinese New Year, there will be a lot of work and cleaning done and wonderful festive menu to be prepared with much excitement in my family….and I will be posting some interesting stories, history and a few traditional recipes of the coming Chinese New Year here so that the visitors here can also try their hand at welcoming the new, auspicious Chinese New Year with me. 😀

    I wish you Merry Christmas and a prosperous Happy New Year 2008.

    With peace and joy,

    choesf 😀


  7. 7

    rose said,

    Looking forward for your new recipes for the Reunion dinner!

    Love and hugs,rose


  8. 8

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    I will be sure to post my traditional festive Chinese New Year Reunion recipes a few weeks before so that anyone interested can prepare for them…all the dishes will have some auspicious meanings in them (and even wonderful sounding names, too). 😀

    Happy New Year 2008!


    choesf 😀


  9. 9

    Linda said,

    Thank you for the information! I just didn’t understand why we are celebrating dongzhi and what it actually is. I just know that we do it every year!


  10. 10

    happyhomemaker88 said,

    Hi there and welcome, dear Linda 😀

    When it comes to Chinese festivals, there is a story or legend behind each of them. Also, certain foods are symbolic of those festivals, e.g. the glutinous rice balls are had during the Winter Solstice Festival. As such, my kids love this festival because they like to eat the Tong Yuen (glutinous rice balls) today! 😉

    My family had just finished eating our Winter Solstice Lunch, and I will post about it shortly.

    Have a relaxing Sunday!

    choesf 😀


  11. 11

    Nina said,


    Is it possible to share the curry chicken recipe from your mother-in law? coz my husband absolutely loves them…

    Many thanks.


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