Sunday, 24 October 2010

lavender tang yuan

lavender tang yuan
It's International Incident Party time! This food bloggers' challenge is hosted by Jeroxie at Addictive and Consuming, and the theme this month is lavender. I had so much fun with it! In fact, because I had a surplus of lavender at hand, I made two things - lavender cordial, which I posted about last Sunday, and lavender tang yuan, which is my contribution to the party!

So for this special event, my idea was to make tang yuan with a lavender twist. Tang yuan is a Chinese dessert that is traditionally served during the Winter Solstice Festival, but it's not unusual these days to eat them at any time of the year. Basically glutinous rice balls in a sweet and light ginger syrup, it's a dessert I love, and very easy to make.

glutinous rice balls with lavender bits


My original intention was to have lavender-flavoured glutinous rice balls in a ginger syrup, but after doing a test run, I discovered that, unfortunately, regular lavender infusion or cordial is simply not powerful enough to cut through the blandness of glutinous rice. You would need super-sensitive tastebuds, or super-concentrated lavender extract to pull that off! So I settled for having plain glutinous rice balls in a ginger-lavender syrup instead...and it's all good.

To make the sweet ginger-lavender syrup:

water
1/4 cup fresh culinary-grade lavender (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 piece of ginger, sliced (I used around 2 inches)
sugar, to taste (I usually use raw sugar or Chinese yellow rock sugar)

- Steep the lavender in 1/3 cup freshly boiled water with 1 teaspoon sugar, covered. After about half an hour, strain the liquid. (I rolled the glutinous rice balls and then started on other aspects of the syrup while waiting. If you already have lavender cordial, you can skip this step).
- Bring 3 cups water, ginger slices and your desired amount of sugar to boil in a saucepan, then turn down to a simmer.
- After 20 minutes or when the taste is sufficiently gingery, remove from heat and add the strained lavender infusion (or cordial) to your liking.

To make the glutinous rice balls:

1 cup glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup hot water (As mentioned, I did a test run using lavender water - but it didn't seem to make any discernible difference to the taste, so you can save your lavender and just use plain hot water!)

- Put the flour in a bowl and slowly pour in the hot water.
- Knead until it turns into a soft dough that is neither sticky nor crumbly. Adjust ingredients if you need to, a little at a time.
- Break off small pieces of dough and roll between the palms of your hands to form smooth and round little dumplings about the size of marbles.
- For visual effect, you can poke in bits of lavender as you roll the dumplings. I used the soft bits from the lavender heads that had been steeped in hot water.
- Bring some water to boil in a saucepan, and put the glutinous rice balls in one by one.
- Soon after they float to the surface, drain and serve in the sweet ginger-lavender syrup. You can serve it hot or cold - I think I prefer it hot.

tang yuan with a lavender twist
The lavender and ginger married happily in this creation, the spicy floral flavour complementing the glutinous rice balls nicely. It's cute and just a little different to the regular tang yuan. After making this, I suddenly had another idea - too late - of stuffing the glutinous rice balls with lavender jam or jelly. I'm thinking that could be pretty awesome! But it would also be a lot more work, and right now, I'm all lavender-ed out. Another time, perhaps!


25 comments:

  1. What a clever twist to lavender and tang yuan.. I love tang yuan and make it on special occasions. Shall have to try this when I next make a batch.

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  2. Lavender tang yuan?!! Soy and I love tang yuan! We were tang yuan-mad a few years ago, but we normally have it with soya bean milk (the Chinese kind). I thought that was normal until our friends said eating it in soya bean milk was unusual. Oh well! Now.... lavender and soya bean milk..... I think it will work! Good job on the very innovative creation!

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  3. I just made tang yuan recently for the first time, this would be a great one to my list of flavors I now want to try. Love how they seem to have happy faces!

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  4. Wow.. I would never have thought of lavender tong yuen.. I would not have realised that it would go well together with ginger either!

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  5. Thanks penny, Honey, Evelyne and misihua! I enjoyed the combination, even if I do say so myself! :p

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  6. This looks and sounds gorgeous! The tang yuens with lavender flowers are simply beautiful and I like the sound of the lavender, ginger syrup combination.

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  7. This is so creative! The more I read about these lavender creations, the more ideas come to mind! Thank you for sharing.

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  8. Thanks tigerfish, R & H and moonglowgardens. Feeling the lavender love. :D

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  9. Awww...... Your tang tuan are so PRETTY with the lavender garnish! Absolutely love your idea!

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  10. This is such a creative thing to do with lavender, I love reading these lavender posts.

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  11. OMG I love tang yuan... these look so cute!

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  12. Thanks Ellie, My Restaurants Melbourne and Judy! Might possibly never have come up with the idea if it wasn't for this party - and really enjoyed reading about the great dishes from everyone else too!

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  13. How original is this?! Brilliant! Truly fusion.

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  14. Yay Michelle, I love how there are so many tangyuan fans!

    Thanks Ju, I was really glad with how things panned out! :D

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  15. Lavender and ginger sound like a brilliant combination!

    And thanks for submitting this to Gluten Free Feed :)

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  16. Thanks CinnamonQuill for your support, both your sites are great! And yes, lavender-ginger is truly a lovely match. :)

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  17. I've never hear of these before but it definitely sounds delish.

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  18. Hope you get to try it one day Cherrie Pie, they are easy to make! Or you can even get the frozen ready-made dumplings from some Asian groceries.

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  19. This is really nice twist to tang yuan.
    Maybe this year, I'll try making them.

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  20. Thanks zmm! It's fun to experiment with the basic tang yuan. :)

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  21. Wow! Didn't now one can use lavender for Tang Yuan! Look so pretty :)

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  22. This is seriously awesome, Leaf. Perfect celebration of this Chinese festival in Australia, East meets West in harmony in this dish. Lovely! I've always wanted to cook with Lavender and walked past a stall the other day that sells them in Vic Mark. Can't wait to try! =D

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