tiger rice ball soup

Rice balls (tang yuan) are usually served during lunar new year.  I recently made this savory lunar new year glutinous rice ball soup (tang yuan).  This savory soup, with its tiger print glutinous rice balls was fun, festive and definitely delicious!  My husband's aunt served this soup with plain white glutinous rice balls while I was still in college.  It was SO delicious that I wanted her to teach me how to make it.  My family makes this several times a year espcially when it gets colder.  However, Chinese New Year celebration is not complete without it!

"Tang yuan" literally translates to "soup ball". However, the homophone pronounciation of "tang yuan"  also means togetherness and the gathering of families so that is why it has become a symbolic dish during the lunar new year.


Tips for making lunar new year glutinous rice balls soup (tang yuan)

Rolling the rice balls is probably the most time consuming part of this recipe, but rest assured, there are ways to speed up the process.  Experts in making tang yuan can roll multiple balls between their palms.  For me, my girls LOVE making this!  How did I get my girls to LOVE making this?  I made this into a craft.  With vials of food coloring, I told them to make their best, most colorful creation!  

Glutinous Rice Flour.

When making these glutinous rice balls, make sure you pick up the correct rice flour.  GLUTINOUS rice flour will lend itself to the soft, chewy balls.  DO NOT USE THE REGULAR RICE FLOUR.

glutinous rice flour

Glutinous rice flour.

Rice to water ratio.

Although I have a specific recipe below, I believe it's important to learn the "science" behind cooking which frees one from constantly needing a recipe.  For the glutinous rice balls, the amount of liquid needed is about 80% of the weight of the glutinous rice flour. However, always have extra on hand in case you need to add just a little more glutinous rice flour in for a better, worakable consistency.

Water temperature.

As I've been working with dumpling doughs, I've realized that many recipes require adding boiling water.  The addition of boiling water increases the speed at which the flour absorbs the liquid which results in a smoother, more pliable dough that is silkier and easier to work with.  This process is called gelatinization.

Colored balls.

Glutinous rice balls can be colored completely naturally or with food coloring.

Vegetable juicies such as carrot, spinach, beet can be used as natural food coloring. Otherwise, vials of food coloring are a quick and more flexible way of making colored balls.

Orange glutinous rice balls made with carrot juice.

Orange glutinous rice balls made with carrot juice and food coloring.

Glutinous rice balls with food coloring.

Glutinous rice balls embellished with food coloring.

Tang yuan soup.

Cut the ingredients of the tang yuan soup into consistent sizes of about 2-2.5" (5-6 cm) in length.  The meat should be 1/4" (.5 cm) thick and the vegetables should be 1/2" (1.25 cm) thick.

Pork broth.

This lunar new year glutinous rice ball soup (tang yuan) has a pork base soup that is made from pork meat and bones.  To avoid having to remove the fat layer from the soup, use lean pork.  Otherwise, make your pork stock a day ahead of time, strain the pork broth from the bones and refrigerate to allow the fat to congeal.  Once the fat has congealed, remove the fat.  Note that the fat does contain flavor so you may want to save a little in the soup!  

Some people throw the meat from the broth away.  However, my family likes the meat.  Shred the meat and put it on the side for people to add to their soup bowls.

Most ethnic markets sell pork bones specially for broth.  Select the bones that don't have the skin and appear meaty.  Rinse your bones / meat well as they may contain bone splinters.

Chinese sausage.

Slice the Chinese sausage diagonally into 2-2.5" strips and 1/4" thick.  This definitely adds flavor to the soup.

Chinese sausage

Dried shrimp.

Small dried shrimp provides umami flavor to the soup.  Rinse the shrimp prior to adding it to the stock.

dried shrimp


Pork loin strips.

Cut the pork loin into strips and marinate it with the basic meat marinade.  Add it to the soup at the end just to cook it.  Cooking it too long tends to toughen the meat.

Vegetables.

I love making this a hearty soup that can function as a meal.  Both the daikon and napa cabbages give the soup "sweetness" .  The rehydated and marinated shitake mushrooms provide the umami flavor for the soup.

Enjoy this delicious soup and Happy New Year!

tiger rice ball soup

RICE BALLS (TANG YUAN) SAVORY

Michelle Sam
Soft and chewy glutinous rice balls that are immersed in tasty and hearty soup. It's a meal in a bowl. Takes less than an hour to make in an instant pot. See how to make these rice balls more interesting by adding color and patterns!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Servings 4 servings
Calories 632 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

Black rice ball dough

  • 227 g glutinous rice flour
  • 90 ml black sesame drink boiling
  • 90 ml black sesame drink room temperature

Orange rice ball dough

Soup Ingredients

  • 2 L water
  • 1.4 kg pork bones
  • 454 g sliced marinated pork sirloin strips See basic marinade
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp dried shrimp.
  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 454 g napa cabbage leaves
  • 3 strips Chinese sausage
  • 454 g Chinese radish daikon
  • 3 tsp salt plus salt to taste
  • ½ tsp white pepper plus pepper to taste

Mushroom marinade

  • 1 cup` boiling water
  • ½ Tbsp soy sauce

Instructions
 

Prepare shitake mushrooms

  • Rinse and soak shitake mushrooms in boiling water with soy sauce.
    1 cup` boiling water, ½ Tbsp soy sauce

Make soup broth

  • Add broth ingredients into the instant pot and pressure cook for 15 minutes.
    2 L water, 1.4 kg pork bones, 3 slices fresh ginger, 2 Tbsp dried shrimp., 3 tsp salt, ½ tsp white pepper
  • Allow the pressure to release naturally as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  • Slice the pork into strips and marinate with the basic meat marinade
    454 g sliced marinated pork sirloin strips
  • Slice the Chinese sausage in diagonal strips about 2-2.5" (5 - 6 cm) in length
  • Slice daikon, napa in diagonal strips about 2-2.5" (5 - 6 cm) in length
    3 strips Chinese sausage, 454 g Chinese radish, 454 g napa cabbage leaves
  • Slice shitake mushrooms into ½" (~1 cm) thickness.
    5 dried shitake mushrooms

Black sesame dough

  • Add the glutinous rice into a bowl and make a well in the center.
    227 g glutinous rice flour
  • Heat / microwave one of the bowls of black sesame drink until bubbling, this should only take a few seconds.
    90 ml black sesame drink
  • Pour the hot black sesame drink into the glutinous rice flour and mix with chopsticks or spoon.
  • Add the room temperature black sesame drink and mix.
    90 ml black sesame drink
  • Stir mixture until all the the liquid is absorbed. This should appear crumbly and dry. Don't be tempted to add more water until after kneading by hands.
  • Using your hands, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Allow it to rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Orange dough

  • Add the glutinous rice rice into a bowl and make a well in the center.
    227 g glutinous rice flour
  • Heat / microwave one of the bowls of black sesame drink until bubbling, this should only take a few seconds.
    90 ml carrot juice
  • Pour the hot carrot juice into the glutinous rice flour and mix with chopsticks or spoon.
  • Add the room temperature carrot juice and mix.
    90 ml carrot juice
  • Stir mixture until all the the liquid is absorbed. This should appear crumbly and dry. Don't be tempted to add more water until after kneading by hands.
  • Using your hands, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

Making the stiped pattern

  • On your work surface, roll with rolling pin or flatten by hand each piece of dough into a flat piece.
  • Place one piece on top of the other.
  • Roll dough into a swiss roll and continue to roll the dough into a long snake about 1-1.5" (2.5-4 cm) in diameter.
  • Cut dough into 1-1.5" (2.5-4 cm) pieces.
  • With both your palms, roll dough into balls.

Cooking the balls

  • Boil water in a saucepan.
  • Add balls to the pot while stirring the water to prevent the balls from sticking to the bottom.
  • When the balls float to the top, cook for an additional minute.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove balls from water and add it to your soup.

Assemble the soup

  • Strain the pork stock through a sieve or colander.
  • Add the clear pork stock back into the instant pot.
  • Turn the instant pot to "saute" and add the rest of the ingredients.
    5 dried shitake mushrooms, 454 g napa cabbage leaves, 454 g Chinese radish, 3 strips Chinese sausage
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour your soup into individual bowls and top with the glutinous rice balls. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 4gCalories: 632kcalCarbohydrates: 105gProtein: 41gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 2290mgPotassium: 1229mgFiber: 7gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 8971IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 195mgIron: 3mgNet Carbohydrates: 98g
Keyword glutinous rice balls, rice ball soup, savory tang yuan recipe, sweet rice balls in savory soup, tang yuan recipe
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