Best Way To Eat Tang Yuan (Glutinous Rice Balls)

Posted on Mar 2, 2011 in Misadventures, Recipes | 50 comments

Has it really been four days since my last post? Where has all the time gone! I don’t think I’ve ever left blogging for quite so long but the past week has been so busy that my head is spinning like the little Tasmanian Devil. You’ve seen that cartoon right? Between work, giving makeovers (which turned out brilliantly by the way), studying, training and travelling – ever wished you could clone yourself sometimes? I even arrived at the airport and completely walked out without claiming my luggage. There I was making comments about how I hope the airline doesn’t lose my luggage and what do I do when it arrives?

I walk out without it.

When I realized what I did, the security guard wouldn’t let me back in! He sent me all the way to the other end of the building where some other security people could advise me on the next procedure.”Fine time to pick to travel in heels!” I get there and they said I had to call the airline. GREAT. More people to explain this embarassing story to. I called them and the first thing they asked was, “How did you not know to collect your luggage?”

Err…temporary amnesia, unexplained concussion, any other medical terminology that might explain this inopportune moment. I played the tourist card (which was true because I had never been to this airport before).

Finally they get security guards to take me back into the baggage reclaim hall, after an extensive body search when I went through security check and set off their metal detectors. We went through these back passageways where you need their keycards to get through the doors. As inconvenient and time-wasting as this whole incident was, I thought “Wow this is exciting!” Too bad I couldn’t take photos. But I finally got my luggage so it was all good.

Nothing missing. Sharon happy.

My consolation? I wasn’t the only who forgot her luggage! It’s like they say, misery attracts company!

But food always has a way to make me happy. So this is going to be a lighter post about one of my favourite Chinese desserts called Tang Yuan. Also known as Glutinous Rice Balls. My favourite type is the ones with black sesame filling, though you get them with bean paste or peanut paste as well.

So here goes!


Frozen Tang Yuan (or you can make your own if you know how, but I don’t)
One chunk palm sugar
2-3 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 generous knob of ginger cut into small slices


  1. Heat pot of water and chuck in sliced ginger and palm sugar and allow to boil. Once the palm sugar fully melts, add normal sugar to taste. Let it simmer.

    Boiling Ginger and Palm Sugar

    When the palm sugar melts, the water will turn brown.

    Ginger and Sugar Mixture

  2. Boil some water in a separate pot. When water boils, put in the frozen tang yuan to cook. You’ll know it’s fully cooked when they start to float on the water. I thought that was such a neat trick so you don’t have to watch the time. It only takes a few minutes so keep an eye on it. If you overboil it, it becomes too soft and soggy.

    Boiling Tang Yuan

    This is the brand of frozen tang yuan that I use. I’ve tried others but they don’t seem as good.

    Frozen Tang Yuan

  3. When cooked, scoop out the tang yuan into a bowl and add the ginger sugar mixture. I love the blend of the flavours and ginger is so tummy warming! I imagine it would work well with a ginger and honey mixture too! Though it wouldn’t look as brown.

    Bowl of Tang Yuan

This is what it looks like when you bite into it.

Enjoying Tang Yuan

You might think the oozing black stuff looks gross but trust me, it tastes really good!

I received a gift from my younger sister recently. She bought me a t-shirt that she thought was really funny and meant it as a joke.

Totally Perfect

This is something that I will never wear out. We literally cracked up when I opened it in the mail. We share a very close but strange sister humour that only we understand, because I’m very much aware it wouldn’t seem that funny to all of you! After I mentioned my airport story above, she said she should’ve bought one that read “TOTALLY stupid!”

Don’t you just love sisters?

Thank you all for bearing with me while my posting is rather irregular of late. And thank you for leaving me such sweet sugars in the form of your lovely comments as well. I read them all and always make an effort to reply (here and to your blogs too), though I may occasionally slip up and forget. If that happens, feel free to say “OI Sharon! Where’s my reply?! Get your butt in gear!!” I think that would get my attention *grin*. You are all simply brilliant.

Just to give you a heads up, my next few posts will cover some gorgeous outfits-related museum collections (I’m a nerd like that, I love science museums too), a special showcase of Imperial robes from the Forbidden City in China (the handiwork is amazing!), a new way of tying a scarf, and a bit of romantic theatre. Not necessarily in that order.

At least that’s the plan.

Have a great week!






Nutella Brownies

Chocolate Heart Biscuits

Butterscotch Button Cookies



  1. Oh you’re so cute! Don’t be embarrassed about leaving your luggage it just means you’re a busy woman. I do little things like that all the time, unfortunately. Who knew you had to go through all that to get back to luggage claim? geez. Your sister is so sweet to get you such a positive shirt. I fear my brother would get me a shirt that said the exact opposite, he’s so lovely. : )

    Yay! Thanks for the following it made my day!!

    • Your brother is funny haha. What are siblings for, eh? Yeah airport security can be quite uptight. At least I got it back in the end :).

      And you’re welcome! :)

  2. Hi Sharon, couldn’t help smiling read of your airport adventures. And that IS THE first time I read about forgetting the luggage, ha ha.
    Leaving one kid behind out of 6, yes. It happened.

    That tang yuan is good for chatty friends or relatives….stops them gossiping for awhile, ha ha.
    Haven’t eaten any many years, but again…will not go overboard for it.
    Anyone person decline that, can bet he or she might have dentures, ha ha ha.

    Hey….you sure look, hmmmm, let me think of a proper word….okay, you sure look alluringly sensational! You not one of Vogue’s or Cosmopolitan’s models?

    This much I will say, you are a portrait photographer’s dream!
    With your kind of traffic stopper looks, even a $12 disposable camera will have you looking a million bucks!

    As well that soft, gentle looks of yours, any good man would love bring you home show his mummy. And I bet she’ll be nodding her head like one of those bobbing head dolls we see at rear of car windows.

    Sharon, looking at your pic makes me feel young.
    You have a nice day, and hold that lovely smile of yours.
    ps, bet you have a attractive mom, or handsome dad, or both, huh?

    • Love your last sentence. My girl inherits awesome genes…hehe Now you know why she cooked tang yuen…so that I won’t scold her!

      • Yes, credit to you and dad lol. And it worked didn’t it? :P

    • LOL leaving a kid behind? With so many I’d probably do the same haha.

      You’re too kind with your comments :). But I’m definitely not a photographer’s dream. Just the opposite actually – I tend to blink and fidget just before they click the camera. Then they complain I just ruined a good shot. One photographer told me for every time I blinked or moved, I had to pay $10 haha. Boy did that worry me. I’d be losing a lot of money then lol.

      And yup, my parents are both pretty people (how can I say otherwise? haha).

  3. Oh, I hate the airports! I’m always in a stressfull, panickey wreck whenever I’m there. The people who work there are so snappy too! So unfortunate about the whole mixup with your luggage, had to laugh it was too cute.
    A desert with the word “glutinuous” in it is so my kind of thing!

    • Oh me too! And isn’t it just awful how they’re so snappy! This incident the airport staff were quite nice. But there was another time where they were so incredibly rude I wanted to say something about it but didn’t dare to in the end haha. And yeah, it was too ridiculous with the whole luggage incident lol.

  4. Oh dear dear Sharon, what will Mary do with you? I totally understand though b/c hubby did the exact same thing. Either you were in a rush to see someone very special (that’s the excuse hubby used on me so I wouldn’t yell at him…it didn’t work haha) or you had A Lot on your mind. It’s ok my dear, we all do that kind of stuff. That’s when I bring out the mommy brain card ;-).
    Hey, post when you have time to post. Have fun with it and never make it an obligation. By the way, kudos to you and Mary for ALWAYS replying back to each and every one of your readers whether they check back or not! I was stalking a few of your older posts, but please don’t feel obligated to reply. I like to do that sometimes when I feel a connection with the blog. I thought it was your first post, but I just realized there were more earlier post. Must start over. Teehee.
    Dude, that shirt is super cute on you! You totally have the look to pull it off. You and your sister have such a great relationship. I only hope my kids will have that same closeness. Blood will always be thicker than water, never forget that no matter what happens.
    Lastly, TANG YUAN!!!!!! These remind me of my grandma. She used to make these a lot and I was her biggest fan. Well I was always her biggest fan, but especially when she made these. With a mom who can cook like Mary, kudos to you for learning to make different dishes. Keep up the great posting. By the way, your Blacksie takes great pictures. Helps when the subject has natural beauty too ;-). Until the next stalking session my friend.

    • Well, LeQuan, she dare not call me when she was at the airport. I asked why she reached home so late. As usual, her cheeky grin, ‘I forgot to take my luggage when I got out!’ I wasn’t so sure whether to find it amusing or frustrating. She always says, ‘I know’ but then she still doesn’t know….hmmm. Need to lecture her more :P Must register her as ‘young traveller’ next time!!…haha

      • Amusing, I’d go for amusing ;). And hey, at least I got back in one piece with nothing missing! :D

      • Lmao at young traveller. Sorry Sharon, but I think she deserved that one. You guys don’t know how us moms worry sometimes.

        • Ok so worrying that my daughter might fall into the toilet doesn’t compare with Mary’s worrying, but the point was that I still worry. Haha. There, uneven. Cheeky grin ;-)

          • Trust you to mess up my system! LOL. What cheek ;)

        • Lol. We just think moms worry too much haha ;)

    • Lol I can’t wait to have a mommy brain card to use haha. It sounds most useful! ;)

      Oh you’re so sweet to want to read them all. I must say they’re probably not the most interesting because my writing has gradually improved over time lol. My “archives” section is right at the bottom if that helps at all. :) I like replying because when I comment I often like to see if they replied haha. Especially if I say something remotely intelligent or funny, which, more often than not, isn’t the case lol.

      I’m sure your kids would be super close too. Despite their bickering and arguing sometimes haha. We used to do that quite a lot, much to my parents’ annoyance. Then we turn around and say “But it’s normal for us to have little tiffs! It brings us closer!” Absolutely no logic in that I know haha.

      Haha my Blacksie! She is a great camera, hasn’t failed me yet :).

      • Hello again :-). I’m here to mess with your OCD. Kekeke. Just kidding. Yeah, I found your archive page at the bottom earlier. I looked for it at the top before but couldn’t find it. That’s how I stumbled on your life list. Very interesting list might I add. Got quite a bit to say about that, but it’ll have to wait for another day when my 3 piggies are asleep.
        I’ve actually been having the Canon vs Nikon debate in my head lately. Don’t worry, I got dragged out of the dark side before much damage could happen ;-). Oh and I’m sure yours is a much more superior camera than mine. Anyways, hope you have a great rest of the week. Like I said in your older posts, don’t feel obligated to reply. I’m just there cause I enjoy reading your blog. It allows me to escape motherhood for a bit. And God knows as much as I love my holly terrors, I need to escape once in a while :-D.
        Brol(l)y was super cute btw! Oh, and as if stalking your blog wasn’t enough, I left a link for you at “the other place” I stalk you ;-). Click on the 2nd link. The first one didn’t work. I’m off to to dream land. Night night.

        • That reminds me I actually need to update that list haha. Some of the odd things I want to do at some point ;).

          Canon vs Nikon? Yeah I’D be the one dragging you out of the dark side lol. I think we have the same camera actually, if I remember correctly you have the 450D?

          Thanks for the link! It was super! Will definitely be useful, I should try them all out before I write that scarf post :D haha. Sweet dreams!

          • Omg! How’d I miss this comment? I was looking for dessert on your blog and it brought me here. Yeah, I still think of food late at night, not your first time knowing :-D. No my camera is not the 450D, you must be thinking of someone else you were talking to. Wait…GASP, are you camera cheating on me? Lol :-P. I just ran downstairs and dug out my manual (plus some popcorn and some dried seaweed (what? It was on the way to my manual)) and it says it’s the 1000D, whatever that means :-P. Yup, that’s how camera illiterate I am. I must get to my popcorn now. Bye bye :-D

  5. I totally understand you…going through airport is always very stressful…now the sesame tan yuan are my favorites…but I usually just boiled in water…so yummie! Love the pictures!

    • They’re sooo good aren’t they? Sesame ones are the best. Thanks Juliana! :)

  6. that’s very funny Sharon, lol you give will give Mary fits haha! the tang yuen looks fabulous the traditional way of cooking them!

    • Sometimes I feel as though I’ve lost my head lol. Tang Yuan is so good, must learn to make my own! :)

  7. First those glutinous balls look.kinda gross but if you say they are delicious i believe you eheh and that top is so cute I dare you to wear it out in public!! If you know its a joke then who cares what anyone else thinks x

    • LOL! Trust me, they’re actually really good haha. They’re sweet and chewy :). Though I think Westerners normally find them quite difficult to eat, unless they’re quite used to Chinese food lol.

      Haha I’m not sure if I would dare to! Maybe one day I’ll take you up on this challenge ;) x

  8. This is one awesome blog. Not sure about the sticky looking sesame balls though!

    • Thanks Geoff! Oh you ought to try them sometime ;)

  9. oh dear, there must be something else very important on your mind that you forgot your luggage, the guards must have been amused hearing your story then..or unbelieveable? about the replying part, take it easy. As for these 2 years , my mum doesnt cook tong yuen anymore, she will get the packets ones like what you’re showing..she says that it’s delicious especially the black sesame ones

    • They just looked incredulous as to how I could’ve just walked out without my luggage lol. Black sesame ones are the best :D. And the packet ones are really much more convenient :).

  10. Food always works to make me happy too. I’ve never had glutinous rice balls, I know so little about this kind of food, I need somebody to show me the ropes ;)
    *kisses* HH

    • Haha, I don’t know how well you’d take to them actually :). Most of our Scottish friends don’t like chewy food like this. They take a bite then throw it out, which is rather funny lol. The look on their face is priceless! You sound quite adventurous though ;)

  11. Looks delicious! I think I’m going to have to try this!!

    And what a cute t-shirt… too funny! Wear it well :)

    • Thanks! The t-shirt is something else alright haha.

  12. Airports are a nightmare! I really simpathize with you. The tang yuan looks extremely tasty. I haven’t seen it prepared that way before which makes me think that perhaps I’ve never seen it before, period. Is this similar to Japanese mochi?

    • Some people just boil them and eat it as it is. But I like it with the ginger syrup-ish flavour, which is also quite a typical way of eating it. Yes! Quite similar actually I think. Though this is eaten warm and I think it’s a little more chewy than mochi :).

  13. Oh my I can’t believe it was so difficult to go back for your luggage…at least it was all ok. These rice ball looks delicious, and the T Shirt is cute :)
    Hope you are having a great week

    • It was actually rather hilarious, I don’t know why I was amused by that whole ordeal lol. Hope you have a fantastic week too! :)

  14. I never knew we had such a thing as palm sugar… hehe~ It sure tells me how educated I am. :X Do you only get it from Chinese markets?

    Wow custom duty and import tax is expensive. :X

    I have become a huge fan of sheet masks. I prefer them over the cream masks here. I know what you mean about wanting them more, because I feel the same way… hehe~

    • I’ve only seen them sold in Chinese markets, but they may have them in normal stores and I just never knew it lol.

      Yeah it really is!

      LOVE sheet masks too. They’re definitely much better! :)

  15. How funny! I posted on rice balls today too! (savory though); hey, I love this and I am learning about this cuisine of which I want to learn more; your sister is a doll, like you.

    • I just checked them out and I LOVE IT :). They look so delicious! I must try making a dish of yours one day, you’ve got so many good ones! :)

  16. Tang yuan is delicious, great blog, keep it up.

    • Thanks :)

  17. Love Tangyuan! :-)) They could be addictive, you know…I am trying hard to avoid making them…because I couldn’t help but keep eating them until they are all gone.
    You are such a pretty gal!

    • HUGELY addictive :D. I could eat the whole two packets if I didn’t stop myself lol. And thanks :)

  18. indeed a great way to eat rice balls….wonderful recipe, will try for sure !

    • Hi Sonia! Thanks for popping by :). Glad you like it!

  19. Yum! I love tangyuan. In fact, a have a few of those in my freezer now too. I love the black sesame ones and the red bean ones. I also like the savory tangyuan, but I haven’t had those for quite a while. Actually, tangyuan is easier to make than you think. You just get a package of glutinous rice flour and add enough water to it so that when you knead it it becomes a nice dough (like playdoh). Then you just roll them into balls and cook. So the recipe in itself isn’t hard, just the rolling into balls part is hard.

    Wow, what an experience at the airport. Whewf, I’m glad you got your luggage back.

    • Oh! I heard it was quite easy to make but didn’t realize it was this easy! I must try what you suggested :D. Although it’s probably more complicated when I have to actually make it. I can just see myself making a huge mess lol. Love tangyuan they’re the best snack!

  20. I absolutely love tang yuan. We made this rice balls last Chinese New Year in school. :) I had those in HK last December and it’s great to make them from scratch and freeze them.. I’m sure your mom loves it too.

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