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Rice balls (tang yuan) are usually served during lunar new year. I recently made this savory lunar new year glutinous rice ball soup (tang yuan). This savory soup, with its tiger print glutinous rice balls was fun, festive and definitely delicious! My husband's aunt served this soup with plain white glutinous rice balls while I was still in college. It was SO delicious that I wanted her to teach me how to make it. My family makes this several times a year espcially when it gets colder. However, Chinese New Year celebration is not complete without it!

"Tang yuan" literally translates to "soup ball". However, the homophone pronounciation of "tang yuan" also means togetherness and the gathering of families so that is why it has become a symbolic dish during the lunar new year.

Tips for making lunar new year glutinous rice balls soup (tang yuan)

Rolling the rice balls is probably the most time consuming part of this recipe, but rest assured, there are ways to speed up the process. Experts in making tang yuan can roll multiple balls between their palms. For me, my girls LOVE making this! How did I get my girls to LOVE making this? I made this into a craft. With vials of food coloring, I told them to make their best, most colorful creation!

Glutinous Rice Flour.

When making these glutinous rice balls, make sure you pick up the correct rice flour. GLUTINOUS rice flour will lend itself to the soft, chewy balls. DO NOT USE THE REGULAR RICE FLOUR.


Glutinous rice flour.

Rice to water ratio.

Although I have a specific recipe below, I believe it's important to learn the "science" behind cooking which frees one from constantly needing a recipe. For the glutinous rice balls, the amount of liquid needed is about 80% of the weight of the glutinous rice flour. However, always have extra on hand in case you need to add just a little more glutinous rice flour in for a better, worakable consistency.

Water temperature.

As I've been working with dumpling doughs, I've realized that many recipes require adding boiling water. The addition of boiling water increases the speed at which the flour absorbs the liquid which results in a smoother, more pliable dough that is silkier and easier to work with. This process is called gelatinization.

Colored balls.

Glutinous rice balls can be colored completely naturally or with food coloring.

Vegetable juicies such as carrot, spinach, beet can be used as natural food coloring. Otherwise, vials of food coloring are a quick and more flexible way of making colored balls.


(Video) 🤤 Dad's CHEWY Sesame Tangyuan! (Sweet Glutinous Rice Balls 甜湯圓)

Orange glutinous rice balls made with carrot juice and food coloring.


Glutinous rice balls embellished with food coloring.

Tang yuan soup.

Cut the ingredients of the tang yuan soup into consistent sizes of about 2-2.5" (5-6 cm) in length. The meat should be 1/4" (.5 cm) thick and the vegetables should be 1/2" (1.25 cm) thick.

Pork broth.

This lunar new year glutinous rice ball soup (tang yuan) has a pork base soup that is made from pork meat and bones. To avoid having to remove the fat layer from the soup, use lean pork. Otherwise, make your pork stock a day ahead of time, strain the pork broth from the bones and refrigerate to allow the fat to congeal. Once the fat has congealed, remove the fat. Note that the fat does contain flavor so you may want to save a little in the soup!

Some people throw the meat from the broth away. However, my family likes the meat. Shred the meat and put it on the side for people to add to their soup bowls.

Most ethnic markets sell pork bones specially for broth. Select the bones that don't have the skin and appear meaty. Rinse your bones / meat well as they may contain bone splinters.

Chinese sausage.

Slice the Chinese sausage diagonally into 2-2.5" strips and 1/4" thick. This definitely adds flavor to the soup.


Dried shrimp.

Small dried shrimp provides umami flavor to the soup. Rinse the shrimp prior to adding it to the stock.


Pork loin strips.

Cut the pork loin into strips and marinate it with the basic meat marinade. Add it to the soup at the end just to cook it. Cooking it too long tends to toughen the meat.


I love making this a hearty soup that can function as a meal. Both the daikon and napa cabbages give the soup "sweetness" . The rehydated and marinated shitake mushrooms provide the umami flavor for the soup.

Enjoy this delicious soup and Happy New Year!



Soft and chewy glutinous rice balls that are immersed in tasty and hearty soup. It's a meal in a bowl. Takes less than an hour to make in an instant pot. See how to make these rice balls more interesting by adding color and patterns!

5 from 1 vote

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 30 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 50 mins

(Video) 🥰 Dad's HEARTWARMING Rice Ball Soup (Savory Tangyuan 鹹湯圓)!

Course Main Course

Cuisine Chinese

Servings 4 servings

Calories 632 kcal



Black rice ball dough

  • 227 g glutinous rice flour
  • 90 ml black sesame drink boiling
  • 90 ml black sesame drink room temperature

Orange rice ball dough

Soup Ingredients

  • 2 L water
  • 1.4 kg pork bones
  • 454 g sliced marinated pork sirloin strips See basic marinade
  • 3 slices fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp dried shrimp.
  • 5 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 454 g napa cabbage leaves
  • 3 strips Chinese sausage
  • 454 g Chinese radish daikon
  • 3 tsp salt plus salt to taste
  • ½ tsp white pepper plus pepper to taste

Mushroom marinade

  • 1 cup` boiling water
  • ½ Tbsp soy sauce


Prepare shitake mushrooms

  • Rinse and soak shitake mushrooms in boiling water with soy sauce.

    1 cup` boiling water, ½ Tbsp soy sauce

Make soup broth

  • Add broth ingredients into the instant pot and pressure cook for 15 minutes.

    2 L water, 1.4 kg pork bones, 3 slices fresh ginger, 2 Tbsp dried shrimp., 3 tsp salt, ½ tsp white pepper

  • Allow the pressure to release naturally as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

  • Slice the pork into strips and marinate with the basic meat marinade

    454 g sliced marinated pork sirloin strips

  • Slice the Chinese sausage in diagonal strips about 2-2.5" (5 - 6 cm) in length


  • Slice daikon, napa in diagonal strips about 2-2.5" (5 - 6 cm) in length

    3 strips Chinese sausage, 454 g Chinese radish, 454 g napa cabbage leaves

  • Slice shitake mushrooms into ½" (~1 cm) thickness.

    5 dried shitake mushrooms

Black sesame dough

  • Add the glutinous rice into a bowl and make a well in the center.

    227 g glutinous rice flour

  • Heat / microwave one of the bowls of black sesame drink until bubbling, this should only take a few seconds.

    90 ml black sesame drink

  • Pour the hot black sesame drink into the glutinous rice flour and mix with chopsticks or spoon.

  • Add the room temperature black sesame drink and mix.

    90 ml black sesame drink

  • Stir mixture until all the the liquid is absorbed. This should appear crumbly and dry. Don't be tempted to add more water until after kneading by hands.

  • Using your hands, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Allow it to rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Orange dough

  • Add the glutinous rice rice into a bowl and make a well in the center.

    227 g glutinous rice flour

  • Heat / microwave one of the bowls of black sesame drink until bubbling, this should only take a few seconds.

    90 ml carrot juice

  • Pour the hot carrot juice into the glutinous rice flour and mix with chopsticks or spoon.

  • Add the room temperature carrot juice and mix.

    90 ml carrot juice

  • Stir mixture until all the the liquid is absorbed. This should appear crumbly and dry. Don't be tempted to add more water until after kneading by hands.

  • Using your hands, knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until well combined. Allow it to rest for about 10 minutes.

Making the stiped pattern

  • On your work surface, roll with rolling pin or flatten by hand each piece of dough into a flat piece.

  • Place one piece on top of the other.

  • Roll dough into a swiss roll and continue to roll the dough into a long snake about 1-1.5" (2.5-4 cm) in diameter.

  • Cut dough into 1-1.5" (2.5-4 cm) pieces.

  • With both your palms, roll dough into balls.

Cooking the balls

  • Boil water in a saucepan.

    (Video) Chinese New Year - Tangyuan 汤圆 - Black Sesame Glutinous Rice Balls

  • Add balls to the pot while stirring the water to prevent the balls from sticking to the bottom.

  • When the balls float to the top, cook for an additional minute.

  • Using a slotted spoon, remove balls from water and add it to your soup.

Assemble the soup

  • Strain the pork stock through a sieve or colander.

  • Add the clear pork stock back into the instant pot.

  • Turn the instant pot to "saute" and add the rest of the ingredients.

    5 dried shitake mushrooms, 454 g napa cabbage leaves, 454 g Chinese radish, 3 strips Chinese sausage

  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • Pour your soup into individual bowls and top with the glutinous rice balls. Enjoy!



Serving: 4gCalories: 632kcalCarbohydrates: 105gProtein: 41gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 155mgSodium: 2290mgPotassium: 1229mgFiber: 7gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 8971IUVitamin C: 60mgCalcium: 195mgIron: 3mgNet Carbohydrates: 98g

Keyword glutinous rice balls, rice ball soup, savory tang yuan recipe, sweet rice balls in savory soup, tang yuan recipe

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Previous RECIPE


(Video) Glutinous Sweet Rice Balls Recipe (Tang Yuan) 桂花姜汁汤圆 | Huang Kitchen


What does tang yuan symbolize? ›

Tangyuan is traditionally eaten during the Lantern Festival, but because its name is a homophone for union (traditional Chinese: 團圓; simplified Chinese: 团圆; pinyin: tuányuán) and symbolizes togetherness and completeness, this dish is also served at weddings, family reunions, Chinese New Year, and the Dōngzhì (winter ...

What is the English name for tang yuan? ›

The direct translation of “tang yuan” is simply “soup ball,” but it also takes on other meanings. “The pronunciation of 'tang yuan' is very similar to [the Chinese phrase meaning] togetherness and the gathering of families,” says Zhang, who grew up in Beijing.

What is the significance of glutinous rice balls? ›

The signature food to eat at this festival is sweet rice balls (汤圆 Tāngyuán). It is a ball shape food made by glutinous rice flour. The shape and the pronunciation of tangyuan symbolize being together with your beloved one and family reunion.

Do you eat tang yuan on Chinese New Year? ›

Come celebrate the last day of Chinese New Year and sample traditional tangyuan! Tangyuan 湯圓 is a traditional Chinese dessert consisting of balls of glutinous rice flour, filled with black sesame, red bean or peanut paste, and served in a hot broth or syrup.

Why do we eat Tang Yuan during Chinese New Year? ›

Tang-yuan looks round and smooth, like the full moon which means harmony and perfection in Chinese culture. So we believe Tang-yuan stands for reunion and brings good luck for families. By eating it on New Year's Day, we hope we'll get together with families and friends again next year.

What is the story behind Tang Yuan? ›

In fact, the dish's name sounds identical to the term for 'reunion' in Chinese ( yuan), and it's widely believed that eating the dish with loved ones during the full moon will bring families happiness and good fortune in the new year. In China, tangyuan means family reunion.

What is the meaning of rice ball? ›

rice ball (plural rice balls) A Japanese and Korean snack food made from white rice formed into a triangular or oval shape, usually with a filling; onigiri.

What does rice symbolize in Chinese culture? ›

For the Chinese, rice (Chin. 米饭) symbolizes a link between Heaven (Gods) and Earth (Men). Rice is the staple food for the Chinese people and a source of life for centuries with great popularity.

What symbolizes the glutinous rice in the family during the Chinese New Year's Eve meal? ›

Nian gao, or 'year cake', is a sticky rice cake which represents prosperity; the words 'nian gao' sounds like 'getting higher year on year', and this symbolises raising oneself taller in each coming year.

What are the 7 lucky food for Chinese New Year? ›

Here are seven lucky foods eaten in celebration of the Chinese New Year:
  • Spring rolls. (Getty Images/iStockphoto) ...
  • Dumplings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto) ...
  • Noodles. (Getty Images/iStockphoto) ...
  • Steamed fish. (iStock) ...
  • Rice cake. (Getty Images/iStockphoto) ...
  • Rice balls. (Getty Images/iStockphoto) ...
  • Fruit. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Feb 1, 2022

What are 3 common dishes served at Chinese New Year? ›

The most common Chinese New Year foods include dumplings, fish, spring rolls, and niangao.

Is Tang Chinese or Korean? ›

Tang (/tɑːŋ/; Chinese: 唐, mandarin Pinyin: Táng; Japanese: 唐/とう/から; Korean: 당/唐; Cantonese : Tong; Wade–Giles: Dang), is a Chinese surname. The three languages also have the surname with the same character but different pronunciation/romanization. In Korean, it is usually romanized also as Dang.

Is Tang Yuan same as mochi? ›

Sweet rice balls, or Tang Yuan (汤圆), are quite similar to mochi. The dough is made with sticky rice flour to create a soft and gooey texture. It is often filled with a sweet filling, such as peanut, sweet bea, or sesame. Different from mochi, sweet rice balls are boiled and then served in soup.

What flavors are Tang Yuan? ›

The common tang yuan flavours you'll find are peanut, black sesame or red bean. Tang yuan can also be savoury, or contain no filling at all. It's usually served in boiled water or in a sweet soup.

What are five lucky foods for Chinese New Year? ›

8 Lucky Foods to Ring in the Chinese New Year
  • Jiaozi (Dumplings)
  • Dayu Darou (Whole Fish or Meat)
  • Lawei (Cured Meats)
  • Chun Juan (Spring Rolls)
  • Changshou Mian (Longevity Noodles)
  • Good Fortune Fruit.
  • Babao Fan (Eight Treasures Rice)
  • Tang Yuan (Glutinous-Rice Balls in Sweet Syrup)

What is the two foods to eat during Chinese New Year to bring good luck? ›

Oranges, kumquats, tangerines and pomelos are common Chinese New Year food gifts because they're believed to bring good luck and happiness. The Chinese words for orange and tangerine closely resemble the words for luck and wealth. The gold color also symbolizes prosperity. Far from family for this year's celebrations?

What do you not eat on Chinese New Year? ›

In Chinese tradition, white is an unlucky color because it symbolizes death, so all white foods are out for the celebration. Tofu, eggs, rice, cauliflower, white cheeses—say goodbye to them for the night. Instead, fill your New Year's table with other colorful foods.

When did the story of Tang Yuan start? ›

Tangyuan were originally developed during the Song dynasty in a city that was at that time called Mingzhou (明州), today's Ningbo. They were originally called Yuanxiao, the same name as the festival described above.

Where did glutinous rice balls originate? ›

The sweet dumplings originated in the city of Ningbo 1,100 years ago and spread throughout China to become a staple of Chinese cuisine. Tang yuan varies in size, taste, and preparation and consists of a glutinous rice flour dough wrapped around a sesame or red bean paste filling and can be served in a broth.

What does the yellow tang yuan represent? ›

Tang Yuan are a symbolic and delicious food in Chinese culture. It represents wholeness and union. Hence why it's often served at the bride's hair combing ceremony or the night before a couple's wedding to wish them a good marriage.

What emoji is this 🍙? ›

A Japanese onigiri, a cone-shaped ball of white rice, a snack wrapped with a sheet of nori, or seaweed. Rice Ball was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015.

Are rice balls Japanese or Chinese? ›

The Japanese have been making filled rice snacks since before chopsticks were invented. Called onigiri, these Japanese rice balls are an easy way to eat without utensils. But they're great for another reason, too: The rice preserves the savory fillings inside.

What is 🍙 called? ›

Onigiri (お握り or 御握り), also known as omusubi (お結び), nigirimeshi (握り飯), or rice ball, is a Japanese food made from white rice formed into triangular or cylindrical shapes and often wrapped in nori.

Why is rice important in culture? ›

As a complex carb, it is the primary source of energy for over half of the world's people. Depending on the strain of rice, it can contain decent amounts of fibre, protein, vitamin B, iron and manganese. This means it can play a vital role against malnutrition. In some cultures, rice is thrown at weddings.

Why is food important to Chinese culture? ›

Food is an important part of daily life for Chinese people. Chinese not only enjoy eating but believe eating good food can bring harmony and closeness to the family and relationships. Shopping daily for fresh food is essential for all Chinese cooking.

Why is rice considered sacred? ›

Rice is a sacred grain in India with the ancient scripture Vedas referring to it as simply 'annam', meaning food, represents Prajapati or Janardana, as it is one of the earliest cereals known to humanity, and thus, is held in great reverence and is used in most religious activities of Hindus.

What are 5 facts about Chinese New Year? ›

Top 10 Facts About Chinese New Year!
  • Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year. ...
  • It is also known as 'Spring Festival'. ...
  • In China, each year is linked with a different animal. ...
  • The celebrations last for 15 days. ...
  • Guo Nian Hao means Happy New Year! ...
  • Children receive red envelopes with money inside.

What are the 12 fruits for new year 2023? ›

The 12 fruits enlisted were pineapple, orange, apple, mango, banana, watermelon, avocado, grapes, papaya, lemon, lychee, and pomegranates.

What fish is good luck for new year? ›

Eating herring was a way to hope for a good catch in the months to come because herring had unpredictable migration patterns, and a good year didn't necessarily indicate the next year would be as successful. Today, herring still symbolizes good fortune, making it an excellent option for a New Year's appetizer.

What is lucky food for house blessing? ›

Rice and salt

The tradition of bringing a container full of rice before anything else into a new home represents that the occupant will never experience hunger throughout their stay in their home. This practice also symbolizes good fortune and wealth for the occupants.

How many oranges do you give for Chinese New Year? ›

Tip: Always offer two mandarin oranges with both hands. This is the most basic form of respect in Chinese culture. Your recipient may politely refuse at first, but don't give up — keep trying and they'll eventually give in and exchange a pair with you!

What are 3 foods that are eaten on new year's day? ›

Greens, Black-Eyed Peas, Cornbread, and Ham | Photo by Meredith. Even folks who aren't from the Southern United States go all in on eating black-eyed peas and leafy greens for good luck on New Year's Day. Add a slice of cornbread, and you've got "peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold."

What are 4 symbols that represent Chinese New Year? ›

  • Lunar New Year Symbols. Red symbolizes joy, virtue, and sincerity which is why it is often the predominant color in many Chinese celebrations including the New Year one. ...
  • Red Envelops. ...
  • Zodiac Animals. ...
  • Fish. ...
  • Fireworks and Firecrackers. ...
  • Lantern. ...
  • Spring Couplet. ...
  • Fruit Blossoms.
Jan 18, 2022

What color to wear for Lunar New Year? ›

Red Clothes Is A Must

As is probably already very well-known, red is the top Chinese lucky color and represents strength and prosperity. After the festival has passed, many may go back to their normal-colored clothes.

What is the most important thing to do on Chinese New Year's day? ›

Shopping is the most important activity on this day. People will purchase fireworks, couplets, toys and so on. They also buy new clothes for the next year. In the folk custom, people will also have baths and wash all the clothes in the hope, of removing the bad luck from the previous year.

What does the dumpling represent? ›

Dumplings mean 'wealth', due to their traditional gold/silver ingot shape. Candy symbolizes wishes for a rich and sweet life, because of the sweet taste.

What are usually symbolized in Chinese painting? ›

The drawings, paintings, engravings of animals and flowers among others, have beyond their decorative aspect, a symbolic value evocative of power, financial success, matrimonial happiness, good health. They are also given the capacity to ward off harmful influences such as demons and diseases.

What is the most important symbol in Chinese culture? ›

The dragon is the most powerful symbol in Chinese culture with supernatural powers and the ability to control cosmic forces. Very much a sacred imperial symbol, it represents the Emperor (just as the phoenix represents the Empress).

What can I use instead of glutinous rice flour? ›

Rice flour is the best glutinous rice flour alternative. Furthermore, most rice flour substitutes, such as potato starch, cornstarch, and tapioca starch, will also serve as sweet rice flour substitutes.

Are glutinous rice balls healthy? ›

Unfortunately, since glutinous rice balls are a festive dessert, this dish can be high in calories. However, it is still a healthier Chinese dessert than snow skin mooncakes eaten during the Mid Autumn festival.

What are pink and green glutinous balls of rice that symbolize reunion? ›

One activity that occurs during these get-togethers (especially in the southern parts of China and in Chinese communities overseas) is the making and eating of tangyuan (汤圆) or balls of glutinous rice, which symbolize reunion. Tangyuan are made of glutinous rice flour and are sometimes coloured pink or green.

Is dumplings Chinese or Japanese? ›

Originating in China, the dumpling, more commonly called the pot sticker, is made of wheat flour dough wrapper filled with meat and/or vegetables. This common side dish is cooked many different ways. Dumplings are most commonly steamed, pan fried, deep fried, or boiled.

What does sticky rice symbolize? ›

Nian gao, or 'year cake', is a sticky rice cake which represents prosperity; the words 'nian gao' sounds like 'getting higher year on year', and this symbolises raising oneself taller in each coming year.

Why do Chinese love dumplings? ›

They are more than pieces of dough with a filling. Chinese dumplings are visible, tasty signs that illustrate essential parts of Chinese culture. The crescent-shaped dumplings served during Lunar New Year symbolize the brightness of the moon and the promise of a bright and prosperous year ahead.

What's the Chinese symbol for love? ›

The Chinese character for "love" or "to love" is in traditional Chinese, but it can also be written as 爱 in simplified Chinese.

What flowers mean love in China? ›

Orchid. The orchid symbolizes love and beauty and can be a symbol of a married couple. The flower also represents wealth and fortune, and when placed in a vase, orchids symbolize unity.

What Chinese animal is for wisdom? ›

In feng shui, the energies associated with the elephant include good luck, wisdom, protection and fertility.

What is luckiest number in Chinese culture? ›

The numbers 3, 6, and 8 are generally considered to be lucky, while 4 is considered unlucky. These traditions are not unique to Chinese culture, with other countries with a history of Han characters also having similar beliefs stemming from these concepts.

What is the Chinese symbol for wealth? ›

The Chinese character 富 fù means rich, wealthy, abundant. China Admissions.

What is the Chinese symbol of happiness? ›

The character fú 福, glossed “happiness,” “blessings,” “felicity,” or “good luck,” appears over and over as a decorative motif. It is commonly woven into cloth, sometimes in as many as a hundred different writings.


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