Sunday marked the fifteenth and final day of Chinese New Year. Thank God. Because that meant the fireworks were finally over.
It also meant an excuse to eat one of my favorite Chinese desserts, tāng yuán or glutinous rice dumplings. The reason for this is because tāng yuán in Chinese has a similar pronunciation with tuán yuán which means reunion. So people eat them on the last day of Chinese New Year to wish happiness upon their families. Sweet, no? I wish English had similar word/food associations. Cake really only sounds like cankles. Not exactly something I want to wish upon others (well, okay, maybe a few people).
We received a quick lesson on preparing tāng yuán from our Mandarin tutor. I'm lazy so I bought frozen yuán zi filled with sesame paste as well as the fermented rice wine or jiù niàng. Apparently you can make both of these items from scratch. Perhaps next time? Baby steps, people.
To cook tāng yuán, you simply fill the bottom of a pot with about two inches of water and bring it to a boil. Then you drop in the yuán zi. The small balls will float as they cook which takes only a few minutes. You then add 1/2 cup of the fermented rice wine. Stir in some goji berries, a little sugar, and you've successfully created a delicious batch of jiù niàng yuán zi. And if you screw it up, you've probably cursed your family for an entire year.