Good evening, dear friends 😀
Wow, at this year end, things are getting exciting as we have a number of celebrations and festivals. Come this Sunday, 21 December, 2008, the Chinese all over the world will be celebrating the Winter Solstice Festival. Usually, this festival falls on the 22nd of December every year, but as this year is a leap year with an extra day on the 29th February, we are celebrating it on the 21st instead.
I am now planning my menu for my Winter Solstice Lunch but a sure thing on it will be the “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls, a symbol of this important festival. 😀
A bowl of colourful Tong Yuen or Glutinous Rice Balls in Pandan flavoured sugar syrup
My 2007 Winter Solstice Dinner spread – clockwise from the top –
- Breaded Garlic Pork Chops
- Chicken & Potato Curry
- Steamed & Salted Chicken
- Treasure Soup
- Hokkien Thick Egg Noodles
- Fuzhou Fishballs, Mushrooms and Broccoli (centre)
For the recipes of these festival dishes, just click HERE.
The celebration of Tung Jit as this festival is called is a joyous one not only because it is celebrating the Winter Solstic…. but it also signals the start of the preparations for the Chinese New Year, which will fall on 26 January, 2009.
During this short period before Chinese New Year, decluttering and cleaning of the whole house is done to remove all old, stale energies, and to welcome new chi into our homes. Then the necessary Feng Shui cures and enhancers are place to ensure a smooth and prosperous year 2009.
After that, it is shopping and shopping of new year goodies ranging from auspicious sounding foodstuffs, waxed meat imported from China, auspicious Chinese decorations, new clothes and shoes…..and oh, I forgot…there will be lots of baking done for Chinese New Year cookies. Wow, as I am typing this, I am already excited about all these! 😆
The Chinese gets very excited with the new lunar year because with it, new energies, prosperity and happiness are ushered in for rest of the lunar 2009 year.
Then the next week, we will be having a Christmas Eve dinner with all the trimmings to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the world…wow, another great festival with all the yummy feasting. 😀
My 2007 Christmas Dinner Eve Homecooked Dinner
My plate of yummy Christmas turkey, mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, stuffing and broccoli last year
I will post here later the pictures and recipes for my festivals as we celebrate these joyous occasions! 😉
Happy Winter Solstice Festiva, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 😀
With peace, harmony and joy,
P.S. For those of you overseas who would like to celebrate this Winter Solstice Festival with me and would like to make your own Glutinous Rice Balls from glutinous rice flour, let me know by leaving a comment here and I will post a recipe for you. I buy freshly ground wet glutinous rice from the markets here.
Added on 18 December, 2008 –
I am happy to see there are a few of you who are interested in making your own “Tong Yuen” or Glutinous Rice Balls. Good, we can celebrate the Winter Solstice Festival together. It is a Chinese belief that when we eat the Tong Yuen on that day, it will mean that we are getting one year older! I remember during those few years when I was living in the US, I didn’t eat any Tong Yuen and therefore, I should be 5 years younger in my Chinese age! 🙄
Here is the recipe for Tong Yuen –
125 gm glutinous rice flour
25 gm rice flour
150 ml boiling water
1) Combine glutinous rice and rice flours in a mixing bowl.
2) Pour in boiling water.
3) Mix with a pair of chopsticks or a fork.
4) When the mixture is cool enough to handle, knead it for a few minutes until it is well mixed, smooth and pliable. If you find the dough is too dry, then add in a little more water.
5) Divide dough into portions and add in your favourite colours. Traditionally, the Tong Yuen are just in white and pink..but I had added in green and yellow colours just for the fun of it! 😆
6) Pinch off small portions and roll in small balls, about 1 cm in diameter. While you are doing this, prepare 2 pots of water – one pot is for cooking the rice balls…..and the other pot will contain your “sweet soup” of sugar syrup.
7) For the sweet soup or sugar syrup, just bring to boil the following ingredients and simmer for about 10 minutes and then turn off the fire : –
- 1 litre water
- 200 gms sugar
- 2 to 3 slices fresh ginger, or 2 pieces of Pandan Leaves or 1 tsp of Pandan Flavour
Traditionally, slices of ginger are added for flavour…so, it is more like a ginger syrup. But because my children don’t like the taste of ginger, I have decided to use a few pandan leaves to flavour the syrup instead of ginger and it is just as aromatic. 😉
8) To cook the rice balls, put about 20 balls at a time into a pot of boiling water. They will sink to the bottom. Once the balls float to the surface, this means they are cooked.
9) Remove cooked rice balls with a slotted spoon and put them into the pot of sugar syrup.
Voila! Your very own Tong Yuen are ready to be served as dessert after your Winter Solstice Dinner or just as a tea time “Tong Sui” or “Sugar Water Drink”…a teatime dessert. I usually keep my Tong Yuen in the fridge if there are any leftovers and then just warm up some in the microwave the following day. The rice balls will harden in the fridge.
I hope you like the taste of Tong Yuen. My children gets very excited and will have at least 2 bowls of this once-a-year Rice Ball Dessert after dinner.
Note – the portion for the recipe here is quite small…..for my family of 6 with huge appetites, I make about 1 kg worth of wet glutinous rice flour. But for those making this for the first time, start small and if you like this, you can always make another batch in a very short time! 😉