Tang Yuan

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Chinese Heritage Cooking

Chinese Heritage Cooking

By Christopher Tan and Amy Van

Published 2018

  • About

One of the oldest of all Chinese foods with a symbolic connotation, tang yuan are traditionally eaten at the winter solstice in late December to celebrate family reunion and togetherness. In modern Singapore, the stuffed version or ah boh leng (see Note) are now commonly enjoyed at group gatherings or as a sweet anytime snack.


  • Glutinous rice flour 200 g (7 oz) + more for dusting hands
  • Boiling water 150 ml (5 fl oz)
  • Cooking oil 2 tsp
  • Food colouring as desired


  1. Sift glutinous rice flour into a bowl. Pour boiling water into flour mixture and stir with a spatula until mixture comes together into a crumbly, shaggy dough. Add oil and knead it in with wet hands. If needed, sprinkle 1–2 Tbsp more water over dough to make it come together. Leave dough in bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea towel and let dough stand for 15 minutes.
  2. If desired, knead a few drops of pink, red or green food colouring into dough to tint it a pastel shade. Dust your hands with glutinous rice flour, pinch off a bit of dough and roll it into an even round ball the size of a grape. Shape remaining tang yuan likewise until all the dough is used up.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Gently drop tang yuan in. They will expand slightly during cooking, so poach them in batches as necessary to avoid crowding the pot. Tang yuan are cooked when they float to the surface. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a bowl of fresh cool water.
  4. To serve, drain and scoop tang yuan into individual serving bowls and top with one of the following soups.