Taste of winter: Tangyuan
"Diexie yuanzi", a Rugao-style stuffed glutinous rice ball, is commonly eaten during the Winter Solstice. [Photo/WeChat account: rugaofabu]
Tangyuan, a small stuffed dumpling ball made of glutinous rice flour, is widely consumed in Nantong during the Winter Solstice ("冬至" in Chinese), the 22nd solar term of the year, which begins this year on Dec 21.
The name of the snack varies across the city. For example, it is called "diexie yuanzi" in Rugao, while in Hai'an, it is "dian tangyuan". The various names all indicate the unique ways of making the traditional dish – the filling is coated with glutinous rice powder layer upon layer, instead of being stuffed into a dough.
Sesame is one of the most popular fillings for tangyuan. The sesame powder is mixed with pork suet, osmanthus candy, mandarin peels, and sugar.
Ingredients such as sesame, peanuts, pork suet, mandarin peels, and sugar are used to make filling for tangyuan. [Photo/WeChat account: rugaofabu]
The mixture, after being evenly blended, should be put into a freezer for one hour to cool down and then made into yolk-sized balls.
The fillings are then coated with glutinous rice powder by being rolled in a bamboo basket. The rice powder must be sprinkled into the basket several times after the balls are wetted.
Local residents also suggest that the powder be made from newly harvested rice so that they are white and scented.
When they are about the size of an egg, it's time to boil and eat them.
Zhang Hairong, a local goumet, makes glutinous rice balls in a bamboo basket. [Photo/WeChat account: rugaofabu]