Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Farewell Winter! : Dong Zhi

Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls in 4 colours
We pigged out on large bowls of chinese glutinous rice ball (tang yuan, literally soup ball) immersed in a delicious sweet soup to bid farewell to winter last night. We also grew one year older. We celebrated Dong Zhi, the second most important date in the Chinese Lunar Calendar after Chinese New year.

Dong Zhi or Winter Solstice Festival literary means winter (dong) has reached the end (zhi); an indication of spring is coming and that it is time to start preparing for the spring festival (chun jien: chinese new year). In some places, it is also called dong jie (winter festival).

It is the last festival of the year where the entire family gives thanks to a bountiful year, a bit like a Chinese Thanksgiving. Bowls of tang yuan or chinese glutinous rice ball usually in soup, are shared among family members.

This year Dong Zhi or winter solstice falls on 21Dec, the date of the shortest day and longest night for 2005. This date, of course, is meant for the northern hemisphere. We should really celebrate dong zhi on 21 or 22 june.

♥ tabeshimashita on 21 december
Tang Yuan in Red Dates & Dried Longan Sweet Soup
Tang Yuan in Gui Yuan Hong Zao Cha
We had four different coloured tang yuan last night. The yellowish one is supposedly white but the dark sweet soup had stained it a bit. So we had white, pink, purple and orange tang yuan.

The sweet soup, Gui Yuan Hong Zao Cha (dried longan with red date sweet soup), is simple to make. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a few dried pitted red dates and pitted dried longan. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add sugars or honey or rock sugar to taste. Let simmer again until sugar dissolve and it's done. Easy as that.

Tang Yuan - Chinese Glutinous Rice Balls
♥ pinkcocoa's four colours glutinous rice ball
This is my first attempt at making tang yuan on my own. Usually granny would have the dough ready for the kids to have fun shaping and rolling the dough into small bite size balls.

I mixed tiny bits of water into glutinous rice flour until I get a soft dough. For the cute pink one, I divided the dough into two and added a small drop of red food colouring. Mix and knead and you will get a pink dough!

The orange and purple glutinous rice balls are actually sweet potato glutinous rice balls; di gua yuan. The sweet potato are steamed and then mashed. I added a mixture of glutinous rice flour and sweet potato starch, a few teaspoon of oil and few teaspoon of sugar to the mash. The addition of sweet potato starch is to get a chewier (Q-Q) texture. You can also use corn flour instead. Some places omit glutinous rice flour and use only corn flour (chewier), some uses only glutinous rice flour (softer). It really depends on which texture you are after.

ps. btw I managed to find purple-flesh sweet potato at Paddy's market. *yay*

Tang Yuan on Shaved Ice
Tang Yuan Di Gua Yuan Bu Ding Xue Hua Bing
We decided to have our tang yuan cold. This is served on a bed of xue hua bing (literary snowflakes ice), topped with colourgul glutinous rice balls and Taiwanese custard jelly (bu ding); and very very generous drizzle of sweetened condensed milk. We would have loved it even better if we had coconut milk and palm sugar on hand.

Not bad for my first dong zhi away from home. (=^-^=)//