Friday, 14 February 2014

Homemade Black Sesame Tangyuan (Sweet Rice Dumplings)

Today is the fifteenth day of Chinese New Year , Chinese celebrate it as The Lantern Festival (元宵节). This year, The Lantern Festival is also the The Valentine's Day! It's reported that 243 couples in Singapore will be tying the knot today. What an auspicious “double happiness” date! 

The Lantern Festival symbolises family togetherness. Eating tangyuan, or sweet rice dumplings,  is an important part of the day in my family.

Back in my home town in Northeastern China,  tangyuan is usually filled with sugar, walnuts, sesame, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, red bean paste, dates, or dried fruits.  A lot of combinations of these ingredients.  It feels so good to enjoy a bowl of warm tangyuan with your family on a cold winter day.

This year, I decided to make my own tangyuan for the first time. One reason is, I have one whole pack of glutinous rice flour, leftover from making Chinese New Year niangao (rice cake).  Another reason is,  the tangyuan recipe looks really simple! With homemade black sesame powder, I bet my tangyuan would be super! .

Last weekend, I made my first batch of  tangyuan.   Based on the recipe, I added some water to the glutinous rice flour. The dough is soft and smooth, quite easy to handle.  I took one small portion of the dough ,  add the filling on top,  and tried to wrap it up. It became kind of messy with cracks here and there.  Not easy to roll into a ball. I managed to make about 10 tangyuan, and gave up.  In order not to waste the ingredients, I simply mixed the sesame paste into the dough,  put into a steamer, and there became my black sesame niangao (rice cake). Taste good though!

I knew there must be something wrong with the wrapping method.  For someone like me, who is dumpling "expert",   I used the same way to wrap tangyuan and dumpling.  A Shanghainese friend told me the difference.  To wrap a dumpling,  you need to press the dough flat and round, add the filling on top, then wrap it up. It works perfectly fine as the dough is elastic.  However, the dough for tangyuan is not elastic,  but a bit sticky. You need to roll the dough into a ball first, hold it, and press in the center to make a hole with your thumb. Add the filling inside, close it.  Roll slightly to round it up. Do things in the right way, and it would be effortless. It's so true! I made these tangyuan today for my family. They are smooth, round, and delicious! Happy 元宵! 

(Recipe adapted here)

(make 20 medium-sized tangyuan)
  • 200g glutinous rice flour
  • 180g water
  • 100g homemade black sesame powder ( recipe refers to here)
  • 80g sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil ( I used peanut oil) 
  1. In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water until it forms a smooth and soft dough.  Divide the dough into 20 portion. Set aside.
  2. Mix the black sesame powder, sugar and grind in a food processor until fine and moist (the moist is the oil from black sesame). 
  3. Add vegetable oil to the fine mixture until just combined.
  4. Take one portion of the dough, roll slightly into a ball. Hold the ball in your left hand and press into the center to make a hole.
  5. Use a small spoon to put the black sesame mixture into the hole. Close it and roll slightly. Set aside.
  6. Repeat 4-5 until finish the ingredients.
  7. Heat up a a pot of water and bring to a boil. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water.  Once the water is boiled, add one bowl of cold water. Do it 2 more times until the dumplings float to the top.
  8. Transfer them out to another bowl together with the boiled water. Serve warm.


  1. What beautiful dumplings, I only wish I could taste one, they look delicious! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a great week!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  2. They look great--very smooth and pretty. I enjoyed reading about the Lantern Festival.
    Thank you for sharing!


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