Saturday, February 24, 2024

Making YuanXiao


The Lunar New Year is the biggest holiday of the year in China, and the festivities traditionally end on the 15th day of the new year with Lantern Festival.   Lantern Festival is sometimes called YuanXiao Festival, because yuanxiao are eaten on that day.  In some areas of China these are called tangyuan (often in the south).  Regardless of what you call them, they are a special treat made from glutinous rice flour, often with sweet fillings that can be made of red beans, peanut or sesame.  Yuanxiao are boiled and served in a bowl with the hot broth they have cooked in.

You can buy frozen yuanxiao at most grocery stores, but our little ones had the chance to make their own yuanxiao this year.   They tackled this cooking project with much enthusiasm!  It was a wonderful way to develop fine motor coordination, practice using kitchen tools and experience a range of textures, scents and flavors.  Of course, the best part was sampling their handiwork at the end of the day!

They started by crushing the black sesame seeds.  

After the sesame was done, we turned our attention to the peanuts.  Those also needed to be sorted and crushed:

Then it's time to add some sugar and fat:

The peanut, sesame, sugar and fat are thoroughly mixed into a sticky paste:

Then the filling is shaped into balls like this:

After that, all that remains is to roll the balls of filling in the glutinous rice flour, dip them in water, roll them in rice flour, back to the water... until the filling is completely enclosed in the rice flour coating:

Once the yuanxiao are finished, they are cooked in boiling water.  Delicious! 

Happy YuanXiao Festival!  元宵节快乐!

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