Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

金鱼汤圆: 初版 – Goldfish Tang Yuan: 1st Attempt

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As I’d mentioned in the recent Tang Chek 2014 post, there had been quite a number of cutesy looking 汤圆 tang yuan versions popping up over the internet of late. Several designs caught my eye actually and had wanted to try making this holidays. There is the panda face, rilakkuma face, chubby sealions  etc. There are so many to do and so little time! I tried the panda face ones yesterday and it turned out quite well. So I decided to try my hands on some goldfish looking glutinous rice dumplings, something which I’d always wanted to do!

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The recipe for making tang yuan is a no-brainer really. Making the panda face ones yesterday gave me more confidence to explore other designs, partially also to relive a childhood memory where we used to play with glutinous rice doughs as well! I remember it was the time when we had to use plasticine quite a bit for art & craft class to make all sorts of small things out of them. Plasticine was stinky and our hands frequently got really dirty after fooling around too much with it. PlayDoh was just becoming fashionable in the toys department but we couldn’t afford it of course. So the best way which my mum thought of was to let us play with a simple dough made with just glutinous rice flour and warm water! I see a lot of my cooking and baking kakis giving that to their kids nowadays to play with since it is really safe, being food afterall! Wonder if they too had similar fun experiences as I had when I was a kid playing and shaping glutinous rice doughs…
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I’d always been wanting to make some goldfish tangyuan because of a set of antique porcelain I have. They are from the Qing Tongzhi period which makes them easily 140 years old… They belong to a set of covered dessert bowls with ring stands, believed to have been used to serve dessert broths or bird’s nest soup long long ago. What is intriguing for me about this particular set are the chubby-looking goldfishes with bulgy eyes found on the base of the bowls as well as on the undersides of the covers. I’d always found them really pleasing to look at, almost like a surprise waiting to be uncovered as one finished the portion of dessert soups it contained.
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Rolling glutinous rice dough into tangyuan is really easy but shaping it at will requires a bit more practice I think. For colouration, I’d decided to go al naturale as well, using carrot juice for the orange bodies and charcoal powder for the eyes.  I’d to use a bit of pandan essence for the leaves but I reckon it would be good if the juice from poached spinach or pandan leaves were used. Playing with the glutinous rice dough this afternoon was really like walking down memory lane for me..

Keep the unused dough covered with a damp cloth to keep it soft, as the dough dries out fairly quickly and soon becomes crumbly. But it can always be reconstituted and soften with a dab of warm water ready in a small bowl at hand. I don’t play with fondant so I don’t have a decent set of tools as some of my friends do. I would have imagined it to be much easier with those tools but I just have to make do with whatever there is in the house. In fact, I’d only used 3 things… a toothpick, a disposable plastic spoon and a fruit knife. Glad the fishes turned out decent somewhat and what was more important was, it was a lot of fun!
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The recipe for the glutinous rice dough as I’d mentioned is very easy to remember. Its just about 100g of glutinous rice flour to 70-80g of tepid water give and take. Always have extra flour AND warm water at hand to adjust the texture and elasticity of the dough as required. I was in the “trying out” mood and didn’t weigh the carrot juice, charcoal powder, as well as the extra flour used. Would probably do that next time with a frame-to-frame tutorial on how the fishies are being done.
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I love tang chek because of all the wonderful memories I had when my mother and grandmother were still around, as they got busy with the mixing and rolling while we kids fool and mess around in the kitchen. So please get your children or even your spouse and friends engaged in this really easy hands-on activity… as a really good friend Felicia has once told me, it is today’s little moments, that will soon become a load of precious memories to come.

Happy Tang Chek everyone!


6 responses

  1. Hi Alan,
    These gold fish tang yuan are so adorable. Happy Tang Chek to you.

    December 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

  2. Alan, you are so creative !!! Look so real to eat them :p Happy Tang Chek to you too 🙂

    December 22, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Thanks Elin! Happy retirement! 🙂

      February 11, 2015 at 1:51 pm

  3. Bai Hu

    Super super nice tang yuan.

    December 22, 2014 at 10:08 pm

  4. sue

    so adorable

    December 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

  5. Hi Alan, your goldfish tangyuans are so beautiful swimming in the little pool of water in the bowl pond. Your first attempt but your creations are superb!

    May you have A BLESSED NEW YEAR 2015.

    December 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

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