Sunday, 9 March 2014

Tong Yuen

Hello Fellow Nom Seekers!

My grandfather used to make me tong yuen to eat for dessert.  But since he can't cook anymore, it was long overdue that I made him some in return.  Tong yuens are glutinous rice balls with a sweet filling inside.  These are an interesting alternative to your traditional cake/pudding dessert as you can form these ahead of time, freeze them and pull them out of the freezer to cook.  A great emergency stand by dessert.

I made four different kinds of filling (clockwise from the top left):  black sesame, red aduki bean, walnut and peanut.  You can buy pre-made black sesame and red bean filling from the Chinese grocers but as my grandparents are diabetic, I made my fillings from scratch and used sugar substitute.  The dough for each filling is the same.  The addition of the food colouring is optional but I wanted to distinguish each flavour.

The dough recipe is from Poh Ling Yeow's "Poh's Kitchen".  The only alteration I made was the use of warm water to mix the flour rather than room temperature.

Poh's Dough Recipe (makes about 20 - 30 tong yuens depending on how big your roll them):

  • 90 g of glutinous rice flour
  • 100ml of warm water
  • food colouring if using
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until it starts to form a dough.
  2. Transfer to the bench top and knead until the dough becomes a moist ball.  If the dough seems a bit dry, add a bit more water.  If it seems too wet, add a bit more glutinous rice flour.  
  3. Wrap in clingfilm until ready to fill.  

As mentioned, you can buy pre-made filling at the Chinese grocers.  To make these from scratch, the basics are as follows:

Aduki/red bean filling:
Boil aduki beans (about 3 tablespoons of them - a little goes a long way) until soft and tender.  Drain. Mash beans in a mortar and pestle with sugar/sugar substitute to taste. Use as filling.   

Black sesame filling:
Toast a few tablespoons of black sesame seeds in a dry pan.  Turn off heat when they start to pop.  Transfer into mortar and pestle and add sugar/sugar substitute to taste.  Pound to a fine dust.  Add 1 -2 tablespoons of soft butter into the mixture to create a paste.  Use as filling  

Walnut filling:
Toast a few tablespoons of walnuts in a dry pan.  Transfer into a mortar and pestle and add sugar/sugar substitute to taste.  Pound to rubble.  Add 1 -2 tablespoon of soft butter into the mixture to create a paste.  Use as filling.  

I just used peanut butter straight from the jar.  

To fill:
It is easier to work with if the filling is chilled.  Therefore I generally put the fillings in the fridge for 30 minutes or so before working with them.  Break off a small piece of dough and flatten it in your hands.  Add a tiny dollop of filling.  Seal the dough over and roll it to form a ball.  

These can be frozen at this stage.  

To eat:
Take your frozen or fresh tong yuens and place them in a pot of boiling water.  They are cooked when they float to the top.  It should only take a few minutes to cook.  Drain and serve hot.  I like to serve my tong yuens still sitting in a bit of their cooking water but each to their own.  

You can eat this laced with a ginger syrup.  The ginger syrup is: 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar/sugar substitute and a few slices of ginger.  Cooked this down until syrupy.  Laced this over your tong yuens.  

Hope you get to try these as they are a relatively lo-cal dessert and perfect for those going wheat-free.  I use the left over fillings to spread on top of toast - yum!

Until next time...

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