If you are Chinese or Taiwanese and do not know what tang yuan are, then I truly have seen it all., Tang yuan(literally translates to soup balls or rounds) are a super popular Asian dessert, consisting of small poached mochi balls floating in usually a sweet syrup. They are often eaten during the holidays, and I have childhood to even adulthood memories of making and eating them. While they are usually sweet and for dessert, there can be savory varieties as well, but those are less common. For this recipe, I wanted it to be a celebration of Chinese culture, so I knew they had to be red: red symbolizes prosperity and fortune in China to the point where people(usually children but sometimes adults) are even gifted red envelopes(hong bao) with money in them during Chinese New Years. So I wanted to make sure that I incorporated the color red somewhere, being the tang yuan dough itself. I used beet powder to get that color naturally, though red food coloring works as well – if you are apprehensive about the beet flavor, just know that the other components will help mask that flavor profile.
For the other two components, we have a filling for the tang yuan, being white bean paste or shiro-an. You could use red bean paste as well, but I happened to have white bean paste, so I went with that instead. For the syrup or the tang(soup), I went with golden syrup. Golden syrup is made by cooking down sugar until golden-brown, and deglazing it with citric acid(usually lemon juice, but in this case I went with yuzu juice), and water. It usually has a molasses or honey-like texture, and is used in things like moon cakes to give them a rich, toffee-like texture. In this case, we are infusing the golden syrup with ginger, which gives it a pleasant floral undertone and a mild heat. The golden syrup tastes quite similar to the syrup used in dou hua, or the sweet tofu soup dessert that you might have had in dim sum. The bright golden color of the syrup is also tied by in with the use of gold leaf, on top of the finished tang yuan. I hope you enjoy this recipe, and have a happy new year!
For the red tang yuan dough:
1 cup shiratamako
1/3 cup water
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp red beet powder
Frozen and portioned red bean filling
Shiroan(white bean paste) – chilled down
Mix the shiratamako with water, salt, and beet powder to form your dough. Divide into 14 pieces. Roll out on piece into a flat disk and place in some of your filling(I used about 8g of shiroan per dumpling!). Fold the sides around the filling and roll gently to seal your dango dough into little balls around the filling. Boil these in hot, salted water for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until they float, then store in cold water until time to serve.
For the ginger and yuzu-infused golden syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp yuzu juice
3/4 cups water
1oz knob of peeled ginger, smashed
a pinch of salt
Heat up sugar in a pan until it becomes golden brown. Add in the yuzu juice and water. Change the pan to low heat and stir until combined. Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Sieve out the ginger.
Place the tangyuan in a bowl with the syrup and goji berries. Garnish with gold leaf to finish.