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Lantern Festival: Tangyuan

2013-02-23 21:02:23 GMT2013-02-24 05:02:23(Beijing Time)  申请彩金网址大全.com

Origins

According to a legend, in the Han Dynasty, there was a maid of honor who was called Yuanxiao. She missed her parents a lot but she could not leave the palace, therefore, she wept all the time and even wanted to turn to suicide. A minister knew her story and promised to help her. What Yuanxiao needed to do was to make lots of Tangyuans, which was the best cuisine she could make, in order to worship the god on 15th day of the first month in the Chinese calendar. Finally, Yuanxiao did a great job and the emperor was so contented; therefore, Yuanxiao was permitted to meet her parents, Tangyuan was named as Yuanxiao and the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese calendar was considered to be Yuanxiao Festival.

According to the record of history, Tangyuan has been a popular snack in China since Sung Dynasty.

Name

Historically, a number of different names were used to refer to tangyuan. During the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty, the name was officially settled as yuanxiao (derived from the Yuanxiao Festival), which is used in northern China. This name literally means "first evening", being the first full moon after Chinese New Year, which is always a new moon.

In southern China, however, they are called tangyuan or tangtuan. Legend has it that during Yuan Shikai's rule from 1912 to 1916, he disliked the name yuanxiao (元宵) because it sounded identical to "remove Yuan" (袁消), and so he gave orders to change the name to tangyuan. This new moniker literally means "round balls in soup". Tangtuan similarly means "round dumplings in soup". In the two major Chinese dialects of far southern China, Hakka and Cantonese, "tangyuan" is pronounced as tong rhen and tong jyun respectively. The term "tangtuan" (Hakka: tong ton, Cantonese: tong tyun) is not as commonly used in these dialects as tangyuan.

Geographical Differences

Northern Chinese tend to eat yuanxiao while Southern Chinese eat tangyuan. Both yuanxiao and tangyuan are in the form of a small round dumpling calls made of glutinous rice flour. However, the preference for taste could be different between Northern and Southern Chinese. Sweet fillings, preferred by Southern Chinese, often consist of sugar, sesame, osmanthus flowers, sweet bean paste and sweetened tangerine peel, to name but a few. As for the salty fillings preferred by Northern Chinese, minced meat and vegetables are usually the ingredients. Despite the fact that Yuan Shikai changed the name “yuanxiao,” which people originally consume at Lantern Festival, to “tangyuan” in ancient times, as cited by Yu (2002), they are indeed quite different from each other in the way of preparation. According to Hao (2009), Northern Chinese makes yuanxiao by pinching the fillings into even paste, then placing them into the basket filled with glutinous rice flour, and continuously sprinkling water on the rice flour until the round shape is formed. On the contrary, Hao (2009) also suggested that Southern Chinese make tangyuan by shaping the dough of rice flour into balls with some filling inside.

Cultural significance

For many Chinese families in mainland China as well as overseas, tangyuan is usually eaten together with family. The round shape of the balls and the bowls where they are served, come to symbolise the family togetherness.

Tangyuan recipe

Tang yuan is a dish of glutinous rice balls served in a sweet broth. In Chinese culture, it is traditionally served on Dong Zhi, the winter solstice. By eating tang yuan, you welcome in the winter and become one year older.

Tang yuan makes a delicious winter snack and is easy to prepare. Despite its association with mid-winter, it can be enjoyed at any time of year.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

?1 cup glutinous rice flour

?4 ounces water

?Brown sugar to taste

?Food coloring (optional)

?Fresh ginger (optional)

Preparation:

Pour the glutinous rice flour in a bowl and slowly add water until the mixture becomes the texture of dough. You may not need the entire 4 ounces of water to reach the proper consistency. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. You can divide the dough in half and add food coloring to one half.

Pinch off pieces of the dough and roll it into small balls.

Drop the balls into boiling water and cook them until they float - about 5 to 10 minutes.

While the balls are cooking, prepare a sweet soup by boiling water and adding brown sugar. Fresh ginger can also be added to the soup.

Put the cooked balls into the soup and serve.

Tong Yuan can also be stuffed with a paste made from peanut butter, black sesame seeds or red beans.

(Agencies)

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