Healthy Reunion Dumplings (Tangyuan)

Healthy Reunion Dumplings (Tangyuan)

no6One of the most important Chinese festivals, the Winter Solstice usually falls on or about December 22 each year. In 2014 it is observed on Sunday, December 21.

Its origins go back to the ancient Yin and Yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. Following the celebration, there are longer daylight hours and, therefore, an increase of positive energy flowing in.

Traditionally, the Winter Solstice festival is a time for family reunions. One activity during this get-together is the making and eating of Tangyuan (汤圆) or sweet rice balls which are sometimes brightly coloured. The round shapes of Tangyuan symbolize togetherness.

Each family member receives at least one large tangyuan in addition to several small ones. The flour balls, either plain or stuffed, are cooked in a sweet soup or savoury broth. Both the balls and the soup are served in one big bowl before a grand reunion dinner begins. The festival food reminds that everyone is now a year older and should behave better in the coming year.

I have developed a healthier version of vegan macrobiotic Tangyuan using organic ingredients such as momen tofu, unbleached sweet rice flour, pumpkin, beet, matcha, rice syrup, screw pine leaves, sea salt and adzuki bean paste as filling.
Tangyuan recipe (vegan Macrobiotic, gluten-free)
1. Basic recipe (Original flavor using organic ingredients)
100g momen tofu
100g sweet rice flour shiratama, unbleached
A pinch of Macrobiotic sea salt
3-4 teaspoons red beet juice for pink colouring

  1. Lightly squeeze tofu between your palms to extract excess water but don’t make it too dry.
  2. In a surichachi stone mortar, grind the tofu finely and transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. Add sweet rice flour in small batches and combine well.
  4. Knead until dough is soft and smooth.
  5. Divide into two portions.
  6. Add beet juice to one portionand colour the dough pink.
  7. Leave the other portion in its original colour.
  8. Hand roll into small balls of about 1cm in diameter.

2. Pumpkin flavour

Make about 40 small tangyuan
50g momen tofu
50g pumpkin, peeled, steamed and mashed
100g sweet rice flour shiratama, unbleached


  1. Apply the same method as in the recipe above.
  2. Add pumpkin and sweet rice flour.
  3. Combine well to form a soft and smooth dough.
  4. Form small balls of about 1 cm or bigger balls of 3cm diameter with filling.

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3. Matcha green tea flavour

100g momen tofu
100g sweet rice flour shiratama, unbleached
2g Unsui matcha powder, Grade A


  1. Apply the same method as in the recipe of the original flavour for the tofu.
  2. Add matcha powder and sweet rice flour.
  3. Combine well into a smooth dough.
  4. Form into small round balls.

3.1 Note: for Tangyuan with filling
1. Make bigger round balls.
2. Press to flatten.
3. Stuff with one tablespoon of adzuki bean paste.
4. Gather the edges.
5. Set aside.

4. How to cook Tangyuan


  1. In a stainless steel pot, bring 1-1.5 litres water to a boil.
  2. Add the tangyuan and boil until they float to the surface.
  3. Use a slotted spoon to scoop them from the pot.
  4. Dip in icy cold water to stop the cooking.
  5. Drain before serving.

5. Sweet soup for the Tangyuan
One litre filtered water
2 screw pine leaves (Pandan)
3-4 slices ginger
50g rice malt
50g maple syrup


  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  2. Pour over the Tangyuan and serve.

6. Another way to serve Tangyuan:

Tangyuan and pumpkin ice cream parfait
4-5 tangyuan of different colours
2-3 slices of fruit
1 tablespoon kanten, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon orange flavoured rice syrup
2 scoops of vegan pumpkin ice cream


  1. Spoon kanten cubes into a dessert glass.
  2. Top with pumpkin ice cream, tangyuan and sliced fruit.
  3. Drizzle with rice syrup.

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Posted by June Lim, macrobiotic counselor
Dec 2014


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