In ancient Chinese, winter was the season for reaping the crop. After the harvest, people celebrate Chinese New Year. Yuanxiao Festival, also known as Lantern Festivals( Join the Lantern Festival in Pingxi! ), is the last day of Chinese New Year and also the first full moon of the year. It represents the return of the spring, therefore, for the ancient folk, it means they have to begin the labor work after the day. To seize the tail of holidays, they lit up colorful lanterns(See also: How Sky Lantern Involved in Eco-Conflicts & What Eco-Lantern Can Help), joining the carnival, setting off brilliant fireworks, watching the moon and eating yuan xiao. People nowadays may be too busy to join the carnival, but they never miss yuan xiao.
Extension Video of Lantern Festival
Why Do People Eat Yuanxiao on Lantern Festival(Read more: That’s How Do Taiwanese Celebrate Lantern Festival)?
People in Chinese culture think highly of “tuányuan”, which means family reunion.
Yuanxiao floating in the boiling water is associated with a full moon in the sky. The full moon is symbolic of reunion, thus, eating yuan xiao is the way people pray for a family reunion.
What’s The Difference Between Yuanxiao and Tangyuan? (Also see: Time to Get Your Yuan Xiao on)
Some people say that the difference between yuan xiao and tangyuan lies in the way they are made. To make yuan xiao, you have to make the pastry into a ball, and then roll the balls on the plate with sticky rice flour to get the pastry covered with flour. After the ball gets the cover, apply some water to the surface and repeat the step from rolling to water-adding. Yuanxiao will get larger and larger through the process.
The way to make tangyuan is relatively simple, just like making dumpling－put the pastry into the sticky rice dough.
However, some people have different answers to this question. They insist that tangyuan is a small sticky rice ball, plain without pastry while yuan xiao is bigger with all kinds of pastry.
Did the theory above get you confused? It doesn’t matter what the truth is, you just need to know that they are both delicious and you have to taste them on Lantern Festival. Here we offer some tips to cook yuan xiao.
The Process of Making Yuanxiao
Tips for cooking Yuanxiao
- Remember to add enough water so the yuan xiao won’t stick together.
- To prevent the yuan xiao from overcooking and torn apart, boil the water before you cook Yuanxiao.
- Stir the water in clockwise to form a swirl before putting down yuan xiao, so they won’t be attached to the pot.
- As the yuan xiao floating on the boiling water, slightly press them down with a spoon to make sure they are heated evenly.
- Do not overcook－you can put on the lid for 3 to 5 minutes and turn off the fire after yuanxiaos swollen and floating up.
- Before you scoop up yuan xiao, you can pour in a bowl of cold water. This final touch can make them chewier.
Flavors of yuan xiao
Traditional flavor includes peanut sesame and pork. Now costumers have many more choices from matcha, strawberry, milk tea to brown sugar and pudding.
Creative Ways to Taste Yuanxiao
You may be tired of Yuanxiao with dessert soup. Try out these ways to taste yuan xiao.
A. Peanut Yuanxiao Rock and Roll－chewy yuan xiao with crispy skin is the taste of paradise.
How to do?
1. Put some oreo and cereal in a plastic bag and smash the oreo.
2. Put the boiled yuan xiao into the bag and shake it until the ball is covered with cookie crumb and cereal flake.
B. Fried Yuanxiao－a classic way to cook the rice dumpling
How to do?
1.Soak the Yuanxiao into boiling oil and fry it until the surface turns golden.
C. Tea Yuanxiao－ for people who are on their diet but do not want to miss the delicacy, this recipe can help them to take in fewer calories.
How to do?
1. Simple put the thoroughly cooked yuan xiao into tea (green tea, oolong tea, black tea, whatever flavor you like). You will find that they surprisingly match while the sweet filling mixes the fragrance of tea in your mouth.
D. Yuanxiao Takoyaki－yuan xiao takoyaki may sound mind-blowing, but these Japanese style yuan xiao can be your new favorite.
You can also try to DIY yuan xiao
How to do?
1. Drain the pork-flavored yuan xiao thoroughly and put them on the bakeware with oil.
2. Spread some Mozzarella Cheese on the yuanxiao and bake them in the 220°C oven for 10 minutes.
3. Brush the yuan xiao with okonomiyaki sauce, squeeze some mayonnaise and Wasabi and sprinkle the yuan xiao with some bonito flakes.
E. The Yuanxiao of Ice and fire－a simple but addicting variation of yuan xiao. You can enjoy the cold, chewy skin and the warm, sweet stuffing in every delightful bite.
How to do?
1. Put the boiled yuan xiao into a bowl of shaved ice. Feel free to add some honey and some toppings as decoration.