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Culture Insider: 7 things you may not know about Lantern Festival

Chinaculture.org | Updated: 2015-03-05 07:30

Culture Insider: 7 things you may not know about Lantern Festival

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Eating small dumpling balls

Just as the name implies, an important part of the Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao Festival, is to eat small dumpling balls made of glutinous rice flour. We call these balls Yuan Xiao, or Tang Yuan. Obviously, they get the name from the festival itself. Made of sticky rice flour filled with sweet or salty stuffing and round in shape, the dumpling symbolizes family unity, completeness and happiness. Sweet fillings are made of sugar, walnuts, sesame, osmanthus flowers, rose petals, sweetened tangerine peel, bean paste or jujube paste. A single ingredient or any combination can be used as the filling. The salty variety is filled with minced meat, vegetables or a mixture of both.

The way to make Yuan Xiao also varies between northern and southern China. The usual method followed in the southern provinces is to shape the dough into balls, make a hole, insert the filling, then close the hole and smooth out the dumpling by rolling it between your hands. In North China, sweet or non-meat stuffing is the usual ingredient. The fillings are pressed into hardened cores, dipped lightly in water and rolled in a flat basket containing dry glutinous rice flour. A layer of the flour sticks to the filling, which is then again dipped in water and rolled a second time in the rice flour. And so it goes, like rolling a snowball, until the dumpling is the desired size.

 

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