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dragon’s eggs (tang yuen)

January 19, 2012

The festive season is almost upon us!

A time for eating and drinking and eating some more. A time for presents and new clothes and seeing your relatives and celebrations. A time for cleaning the house from top to bottom and eating nothing but leftovers for days on end.

(“Whaaaaat?” I can hear you say to yourselves. “This girl’s lost the plot. We just finished the festive season… didn’t we?”)

Well yes. And no. Not if you’re Chinese anyway.

So grab a lettuce for your local lion dancer and stuff some dollars (notes, not coins please) into a red packet because Chinese New Year comes Monday morning!

Where I come from (and by “I”, I mean the generations of ancestors that have come before me) Chinese New Year is celebrated on it’s eve and this year, as with every single other since time immemorial, we will celebrate with a feast.

Fish for prosperity. Poultry to celebrate the coming together of families. Prawns for happiness and oysters for good fortune. Pork for strength and green vegetables for harmony.

We eat the leftovers on New Years’ Day – a symbol of never being short of food in the year to come.

The Bean celebrates her “golden year” this year, or so she tells me. For she, along with all of her fiery, passionate, spontaneous, sociable, alturistic birth-year mates, are dragon babies.

But how does one celebrate the year of the dragon? A simple Chinese New Year cake? A more traditional set of Chinese New Year treats – peanut cookies, love letters and a feast seem too, well, normal (oh golly please excuse the… well… everything in those posts. It was early days).

So I got thinking… and thinking… and then I got distracted by that awfully-addictive-yet-far-too-nerve-wracking-for-my-feeble-sensibilities television series “Game of Thrones”.

“How do they know what dragon eggs really look like?” I asked my teevee watching enforcer as I tried not to hide my face behind my hands.

“Can you please stop hiding? It’s not even a fighting scene.” he replied.

“But I can hear one coming on. It’s in the music. I don’t like it when their heads fall off.” I said “And you didn’t answer my question. Are the eggs like that because they’re preserved or do you think they were always that colour?”

“I don’t know. Yes?”

“Yes what?”

(silence)

If I were designing dragon eggs they’d look like normal eggs, but with swirls. Blue and purple swirls to be exact. And glitter. And they’d be filled with a slightly gritty, melt in your mouth toasted peanut and sesame seed filling that would ooze into an osmanthus tea and ginger syrup as you chewed through the sticky glutinous rice flour shell… and you’d be able to eat them for dessert on Chinese New Year (never mind that tang yuen are typically a winter solstice treat).

(I still haven’t finished Season One of that show. I heard bad things happen in episode nine and I’m not watching in protest. Because I don’t like it when bad things happen in teevee shows. It stresses me out.)

dragon eggs (peanut & sesame tang yuen)

makes approximately 60

peanut & sesame filling

you will need:

50g mixed peanuts and sesame seeds (I used a 7 peanut:1 sesame ratio)
1/3C white sugar
50g butter

how to do it:

1. Place the peanuts in a dry pan over a low heat and stir until you start to smell the peanutty oils being released. Toss the sesame seeds in at this stage (they’re much smaller so need a shorter amount of time to toast) and continue to toast them, stirring from time to time, until the peanuts and sesame seeds are golden and fragrant.

2. Put the nuts and seeds in a food processor and pulverise them until they have the texture of wet sand. Add the sugar and give it another whirl to mix them together.

3. Melt the butter and pour it into the nut mixture. Stir well to combine. It will be quite damp at this stage. Cover the bowl with cling film and place it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to firm up.

tang yuen pastry

you will need:

270ml hot water
2 1/4C glutinous rice flour
2tbsp tapioca flour
food dye

how to do it:

1. Combine the flours in a big bowl. Tip the hot water in and stir madly with a pair of chopsticks until it starts to come together. Knead the dough until it is smooth.

2. Split the dough into four equal portions. Leave two portions white and colour the other two portions with blue and purple food dye respectively, kneading the colour in so that it is uniform.

3. Roll all four portions of dough into ropes of equal length and then twist the ropes together as best you can. It helps if your countertop is lightly floured with glutinous rice flour for this step as it can get quite sticky.

4. Cut the twisted rope into 60 portions and roll each portion into a ball.

why hello there jane’s hands!

assembling the tang yuen

you will need:

1 recipe peanut & sesame filling
1 recipe tang yuen pastry
3 cups water
one nose-sized lump of ginger, sliced
1tbsp osmanthus tea
3tbsp white sugar

how to do it:

1. Dampen your fingers. This will help with the pastry work.

2. Take a piece of tang yuen pastry and hold it so your thumbs are in the middle and your fingers are around the outside. Turn the pastry with your fingers, pushing down slightly with your thumbs so that the pastry is pulled up around your thumbs to form a cup shape.

3. Place some filling in the middle of the cup – about 1/4 tsp should fit.

4. Holding the cup around the rim, turn it with your fingers and thumbs, slowly pushing the edges towards each other until they are joined in the middle. Use a dab of water to seal any joins and smooth them over. Quickly roll it between your pams to shape it into an egg. Repeat with the remaining 59 balls.

5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil the water, osmanthus tea and ginger until fragrant. Add the sugar and boil until it is all dissolved.

6. You can either freeze the tang yuen in a single layer until needed or cook them straight away. To cook, drop them into a pot of boiling water and cook for just under 3 minutes from frozen or 2 minutes if fresh – they will float to the top and become slightly translucent. Serve with a ladleful of the syrup.

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Confused about the rolling method? I’ll be putting a video of my mother’s nimble fingers up on the onebitemore facebook page later today – check it out (and if you like it, well, like it!)

 


Shez