Lantern festival is the first full moon day after Chinese New Year. In 2008, it will be on Feb 21. With its round shape, Tangyuan is a wish for family reunion.
Main ingredient for Tangyuan is sticky rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour or sweet rice flour). Its filling can be sesame paste (a mixture of ground black sesame, lard and sugar), red bean paste (with sweet-scented osmanthus) or mince pork. We love sweet filled Tangyuan. With my homemade adzuki bean paste and sticky rice flour (milled sticky rice powder), I make Tangyuan with red bean paste filling.
Blend 400 g sticky rice flour with 1 3/4 cup warm water, knead until obtaining an elastic dough ball. Cover with damp cloth for 30 minutes.
Divide 1 cup adzuki bean paste to 60 portions, round each portion. Use toothpick to pick up filling balls, so that Tangyuan won't be coloured by messy fingers.
Considering the low humidity in my apartment, damp cloth is used to cover either dough or small portions or Tangyuan, otherwise, dough will be dehydrated and Tangyuan will have crack on its surface.
Divide dough into 60 portions (small doughs), take one and cover the rest with damp cloth. Point thumb in the centre of the small dough, use other four fingers to hold the edge of the dough, rotate the dough to creat a cone-shape, put the filling in the cone, wrap, seal and round.
Bring water to boil, gently stir in Tangyuan. Stir with wooden spoon to avoid Tangyuan sticking at the bottom of the pot. Bring water to boil again, add some cold water, cover and reduce to medium power. Add cold water when water boils, until Tangyuan float.
Serve immediately with water.
For uncooked leftover, place Tangyuan in a covered container, one layer only, leave space between Tangyuan, and freeze. After all Tangyuan become well-frozen (hard and not sticky any more), transfer Tangyuan to a zipper bag or container (can be piled).
Cook frozen Tangyuan directly, do not defrost.