Cultural Eats: Celebrate the end of Chinese New Year with Tangyuan

Thrill your taste buds with this traditional dish made in honor of China's Lantern Festival.

February 24, thousands of different animal-shaped lanterns will light the night sky in China, and the streets will transform into a sea of red light, lanterns, and laughter. It’s the 15th day of the lunar calendar and the end of Chinese New Year celebration: the Lantern Festival.

Every year, along with creating the lanterns, people gather together with family to eat Tangyuan, a traditional glutinous rice cake. “Yuan” means family reunion in Mandarin, and eating the dessert symbolizes wishing good health and happiness upon family members for the upcoming year.

The history of Tangyuan dates back to the Sung Dynasty, and there are many ways to eat Tangyuan, differing by geography. The Northern Chinese like to steam or fry the dish, while the Southern Chinese prefer boiled Tangyuan. A wide variety of fillings – including fruit, sweets, peanut butter, or sesame – can be stuffed into the glutinous rice. According to custom, one Tangyuan also gets stuffed with a coin, and the person who receives that special treat is predicted to have a lucky year.

Now, time to join the celebration and learn how to make some steamy, soft, delicious Tangyuan yourself!


  • Sticky rice flour
  • Black sesame powder
  • Food coloring
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Olive oil

1. Pour about 2 cups sticky rice flour, a few squirts of food coloring, and 3.5 tablespoons of butter into a big bowl, and begin to add milk. Stir slowly until you form a thick dough.

2. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave it for five minutes.

3. To make the fillings, mix 2/3 cups sesame oil with slightly less than half a cup of brown sugar. Add a dash of olive oil. Shape the mixture into hard, coin-sized balls.

4. Knead the dough and wrap the filling inside. Roll it into balls.

5. Boil the balls in the water.

6. When the Tangyuans float to the surface for the first time, add some cold water into the pot. Your delicious treat will be ready when the Tangyuans float back to the surface again.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.