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Sweet and sticky endings to the Lunar New Year


The official public holidays for the Lunar New Year may only be for a few days, the but traditional celebrations will go on for a while yet.

The Lunar New Year has traditionally been celebrated for 15 days, with several days holding special significance. One of the most celebrated across Asia is the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, which is known as the Yuanxiao or Shangyuan festival in Taiwan and China, the Chap Goh Meh Festival in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, Tết Nguyên Tiêu in Vietnam and Koshôgatsu in Japan. There are many legends surrounding its origins, but the day is usually a celebration of positive relationships between people, nature and the higher beings believed to bring new light or spring back each year.

This day is also usually when one can see a full moon – the first in the lunar year. And of course, no celebration is complete without good eats. Glutinous rice balls known as Tang Yuan in Chinese are traditionally eaten on this day. The round shape of the balls resemble the full moon and symbolise family togetherness, completeness and perfection. Eating Tang Yuan is also said to bring the family happiness and good luck in the new year.

While the Chinese usually eat them cooked in a sweet soup with rock sugar, regional variants on these glutinous desserts have developed over time. And they’re not hard to make at home. The dough for these balls can be with glutinous rice flour and water; and simply kneaded until it becomes a solid dough. An electric mixer like the Electrolux EHM2000 hand mixer can make the process much easier with its powerful Turbo setting. The dough can then be shaped and cooked in one of the  following Asian styles for a sweet ending to the Lunar New Year.

Filled Tang Yuan

Photo by clarayeung
Tang Yuan can be eaten plain or filled with red bean paste or ground peanuts.

Although Tang Yuan originated as plain glutinous rice balls, it didn’t take long for people to discover the joys of filling them with a sweet sesame or red bean paste. Ground peanuts and sugarcane rock candy are also popular fillings for Tang Yuan, while others may prefer chocolate in their rice balls. Use a blender with a mill grinder accessory like the Electrolux EBR2601 to easily grind dry fillings like peanuts and rock candy for Tang Yuan.

A traditional food eaten during Japan’s Lunar New Year celebrations, Ohagi is a rice cake made by covering glutinous rice balls with azuki or red bean paste. The glutinous filling in this dessert however, is made with a mixture of glutinous and Japanese rice, which is cooked together before being mashed into a paste. The Ohagi can also be covered with crushed walnuts or roasted black sesame seeds and kinako (soybean) powder.

Bánh Rán

Photo by dieuha2008
Banh Ran, or fried glutinous rice balls, can be covered with sesame seeds or covered with syrup.

A popular snack in Vietnam, Bánh rán is a crispy, deep fried glutinous rice ball with a sweet mung bean paste filling. Traditionally, the filling should be separated from the shell, such that it rattles against the crispy glutinous rice covering when shaken. The rice ball can be covered with white sesame seeds, or soaked in a sugary syrup that is poured over the pastry.

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