Glutinous Rice Balls in Sweet Ginger Syrup

On Dec 22nd we have celebrated Winter Solstice Festival and I have made these tasty glutinous rice balls at home.

This warm dessert comes originally from China, is also well-known in south-east asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, etc. In chinese it is called "tangyuan" (汤圆, tāngyuán), "tang" means soup and "yuan" means circle or balls. In Indonesian it is called "ronde jahe" which is balls served in ginger syrup.

Glutinous rice balls are served on many chinese festivals :
Lantern Festival (元宵节, yuánxiāo jié), celebrated fifteen days after Chinese new year or Spring Festival (春节, chūnjié).
Winter Solstice Festival (冬至, dōngzhì), one from 24 solar term. In this day, the sun is at the lowest maximum elevation. That means, it would be the shortest day (peak darkness, least sunlight) during winter.
Chinese wedding day. Eating glutinous rice balls is one of many tradition on chinese wedding day. The bride, groom and their family eat glutinous rice balls as a symbol of "togetherness".

These balls are made from two parts, the skin and the filling. The skin is made from glutinous rice flour and water. Glutinous rice flour is mixed with hot water until becomes a smooth dough. There are many variations of filling such as red bean paste, peanut paste, black sesame paste, etc. The filling is wrapped with the skin. The balls are boiled for a few minutes until well cooked and usually served in sweet ginger syrup made by boiling water, sugar and ginger.

Glutinous Rice Balls in Sweet Ginger Syrup

Serve : 6

You need :
a kitchen scale
a food processor

Ingredients :
Glutinous Rice Balls :
For the skin :
180 gr glutinous rice flour
135 ml hot water
red food coloring (optional)
green food coloring (optional)

For the peanut filling :
200 gr peanuts (unsalted)
80 gr caster sugar
4 tbsp water
Pinch of salt

Sweet Ginger Syrup :
1.5 L water
50 gr Javanese sugar or brown sugar
100 gr white sugar
100 gr ginger, peel and slice
a pandan leaf

Steps :
For the sweet ginger syrup. Put all ingredients into a pot over medium heat. Let them simmer for about 1 hour or until you can taste the spiciness from the ginger.

For the filling. Put all ingredients into a food processor, blend with high speed until they become a smooth paste (if the paste is too dry and couldn't be able to be shaped into a ball, just add about a little bit of water and mix them together). Transfer the paste into a bowl. Divide the paste into 30 parts (about 8-9 gramms each), roll them into balls. Cover them with plastic wrap to prevent from drying. Set aside.

For the skin. Mix together 60 gr of glutinous rice flour with 45 ml hot water until become a smooth dough. Take about 10 gr of the dough, flatten it on your palm of your hand, put a peanut ball in the middle, wrap the peanut ball with the skin, close it tightly. Repeat until you have ten white balls. Put them into a air tight container. Set aside.

Mix together another 60 gr of glutinous rice flour with 45 ml hot water and 2 drops of red food coloring until become a smooth dough. Repeat the process until you have ten red balls.

Repeat with another 60 gr of glutinous rice flour, 45 ml hot water and 2 drops of green food coloring.

At the end, you should have 30 balls with 3 different colors, if you don't like using food coloring, just mix 180 gr of flour with 135 ml hot water into 30 white balls.

Boil water in a pot over medium high heat, put the balls into the boiling water. Wait until the float. Transfer into serving bowls, pour in hot sweet ginger syrup and serve them immediately.

Tips :
the skin dough consistency must be perfect, it shouldn't be too dry or too wet. When it's too dry, you couldn't shape them into balls, when it's too wet, it would stick to your hand and will be a mess. Add a little bit of water if the dough too dry, or flour if it's too wet.

I like to frozen the balls, I just take them out from the freezer just few minutes before boiling them.

Use medium high heat to boil the balls, do not use high heat, the balls will break.

Recipe by Veronica

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