Want a deliciously, warm and sweet treat for the cold weather? These Chinese dumplings or Tang Yuan are perfect for a cold day. The ginger sugar syrup has a lovely subtle ginger flavour, not too overpowering and the oozy black sesame is always a winner in my book. These dumplings can be made with fillings or without, and that’s really the fun of it all. Well, apart from eating it!
Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan) (Adapted from Rasa Malaysia)
Serves: 4-6 people
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Black Sesame Dough
230g glutinous rice flour
1-2tsp black sesame powder (optional)
200g glutinous rice flour
1/2 tbsp sugar
Black Sesame Filling
60g black sesame seeds
45g caster sugar
45g unsalted butter
1200ml water (reduced to 4 cups after boiling)
180g rock sugar
4 slices ginger
2 pandan leaves (tied in a knot)
Black Sesame Filling
1. Lightly toast the black sesame seeds over medium heat until it’s aromatic. Take off the heat and let it cool.
2. Use a mini food processor to grind the black sesame seeds until it becomes a fine powder.
3. Place the cooled ground black sesame into a saucepan and heat over low-medium heat, and add sugar and butter and stir well to form a thick paste. If it’s too dry, add more butter. Place the paste into a bowl and let cool in the fridge so it’s easier to fill the dumplings later on.
Black Sesame Dough
4. In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water (adding the optional black sesame powder too) until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands. Divide it equally into 16-20 balls (the bigger the balls, the easier it is to fill) Note: The coloured dumplings follow similar steps, just add the sugar when adding the water.
5. Flatten each ball in your palm, and then spoon in the black sesame paste and lay it in the middle of the flatten ball. Fold the edge to seal the dumpling. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, very gently and delicately. Set aside.
6. Boil the water on medium-high heat.
7. Add the ginger, pandan leaves and rock sugar into the water and boil for 10-15 minutes with medium heat. Lower heat to simmer and reduce to about 4 cups of water. Add more sugar if it’s not sweet enough.
8. Heat up another pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, transfer them out and into a bowl of the ginger syrup. Turn off heat and serve the black sesame dumplings immediately.
These Almond Cookies are quite light that melt ever so slightly in your mouth. I’ve added in toasted almonds for that added little crunch inside which works a treat. It’s very easy to make and great for Chinese New Year but of course who wouldn’t want this all year round.
Almond Cookies (adapted from With love, from Little Nyonya by Baba Philip Chia)
Makes: 50 cookies
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
100g icing sugar
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
50g ground almond
1/4 tsp salt
150ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
50g slivered almonds
1. Preheat oven at 175°C.
2. Place the slivered almonds onto a lined baking tray and bake for a 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly golden in colour and allow to cool.
3. Chop the slivered almonds into small pieces and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar, plain flour, baking soda, baking powder, ground almonds and salt and mix together.
5. Add in the vegetable oil and vanilla essence to the dry mix and mix well until it is mostly all combined.
6. Mix in the chopped almonds until just combined.
7. Either roll out the dough and use cookie cutters or just use your hands/food gloves and take a tablespoon sized piece of dough and roll into a ball. Place onto a lined baking tray and flatten it gently.
8. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the bottom of the cookies are slightly golden and cooked through.
When Chinese New Year comes along, it’s always the delight of receiving red packets and eating copious amounts of food and snacks. One of my favourite snacks is the melt-in-your-mouth Peanut Cookies and honestly it’s difficult to just stop at one. It’s also very easy to make with very few ingredients. I found a fantastic recipe by Alan Ooi in his book In Love With Cookies, which I do recommend taking a look at his book because there is a great number of yummy cookie recipes in there to try.
Peanut Cookies (by Alan Ooi)
Makes: 120 cookies
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
230g peanut oil
250g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
450g plain flour
2 egg yolks
1. Preheat oven to 165°C.
2. In a blender, grind the peanuts into a powder. Being careful not to over grind as it will turn into a soft paste.
3. Place all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until well combined.
4. Divide the dough into small round pieces. Arrange in a baking tray and brush a layer of egg yolk on top of the cookies.
5. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until light golden brown.
Every time go have Yum Cha, I have to order Lo Bak Go (Turnip Cake). It’s been a favourite of mine ever since I was young . Since I seldom have Yum Cha now, I thought what a perfect opportunity to make my favourite Yum Cha dish. I have found a lovely recipe from Saucy Spatula that has amazing Cantonese/Hong Kong recipes which I’ve tweaked slightly to my liking.
Preparation time: 40 mins
Cooking time: 1 hour 50 mins
Total time: 2 hours 30 mins
1 3/4 cup of rice flour
1.5 kg of daikon, finely grated
3 tbsp of dried shrimp, diced
1 cup, 4 small Chinese sausages, diced
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup daikon liquid/water
1. Soak the dried shrimp in warm water for about 10 minutes or until soften, then discard the water and dice.
2. Dice the Chinese sausage.
3. Wash, and cut both ends of the daikon, then peel.
4. Finely grate the daikons.
5. Cook the Chinese sausage then toss in the dried shrimp, stir-fry for about 10 minutes until golden brown and set aside.
6. In a large wok, add in the grated daikon and fry for around 20 minutes and drain off as much liquid as possible and save it for later use. If your daikon does not release much liquid, top it up with water.
7. Combine the rice flour, black pepper, white pepper, sugar, salt and soy sauce with the saved liquid/water until the flour is dissolved and all other ingredients are well mixed together.
8. Add in the Chinese sausage and dried shrimp to the daikon and mix well.
9. Add in the rice flour mixture to the daikon batter and keep stirring to combine. After the daikon batter is mixed, the mixture should be “doughy” and dense.
10. Steam the batter for an hour in a heat-proof container. Make sure that it can fit in a wok with the lid on.
11. After an hour, the Turnip Cake is done. Let it cool and the cake will become more firm.
12. Place in the fridge overnight. To cook, make 1.5 cm slices and pan-fry until golden brown on both sides.