Recipe: Tang Yuan in Sweet Rice Wine(酒酿汤圆)

To make my favorite Chinese dessert, you need 2 things. First, the sweet wine rice. Please see my previous post to get more information about it and how it is quite simply made at home. You can also find it refrigerated at Chinese grocery stores. Second, the tang yuan. Although almost every modern Chinese person believes tang yuan are extremely time consuming and challenging to make (for some odd reason!), they are actually ridiculously easy to make, like really, really, really easy!! Mix glutinous rice flour with water to make a dough and then form balls with it. Then boil water and add the tang yuan. This is 99999999999 times easier than any western dessert or of any other cuisine to make at home. To see a detailed recipe as well as fillings (which make tang yuan extra yummy, especially black sesame filling!!), please see this post. However, if you need to make it immediately, then fine, you don’t have to make tang yuan at home, because the Chinese supermarket always has it in the frozen section, although it is totally expensive compared to mixing some glutinous rice flour with water. You can buy one package of glutinous rice flour for $1. Then that can make several dozen tang yuan!

Okay, when you have the ingredients, you can start. There’s also some optional ingredients. The first is a flower called osmanthus (桂花 gui hua, pronounced “gway hwah”) that is yellow colored, small, and found in the dried section. It adds a unique fragrance. But actually I have never tasted it before. And I don’t include in my recipe because I like it without the osmanthus too. Maybe someday I will try the osmanthus one. The second is egg. A common addition to sweet rice wine soup is egg flower (蛋花) which is made by beating eggs then adding to boiling soup, stirring with chopsticks, to create a unique and beautiful shape in soup. See my tomato egg drop soup recipe for more information. To western people, the egg in sweet soup may sound weird, but eggs are common in western desserts. Actually I usually do not include egg in the soup. But it is believed to be healthy to include the egg. Sweet rice wine soup with egg flowers is commonly given to pregnant women (the soup has less alcohol in it than a ripe pear, so don’t worry!) too. If you include these ingredients, the soup with wine rice grains, egg flowers, and osmanthus floating around is very beautiful.

Ingredients: Serves 3

1/2 cup sweet wine rice

3 cups water

1 tbsp sugar or to taste

12 black sesame filling tang yuan (or red bean paste filling tang yuan, or peanut, or red bean and black sesame, etc. If using unfilled tang yuan, which are much smaller, use more obviously.)

1 egg, beaten (optional)


1. Bring water to a boil.

2. Add tang yuan carefully. Use a spoon to gently stir to prevent sticking. Bring back to a boil.

3. When boiling, lower heat to medium high and simmer a minute.

4. Add wine rice and stir well. Bring back to a boil.

5. If using egg, add beaten egg and stir 3 times quickly with chopsticks.

6. Serve in bowls, 4 tang yuan per person and ladle the soup on top. Add sugar to taste to each bowl. But if everyone doesn’t really have preference on sugar, you can just add at with the wine rice directly into the soup. You can skip sugar for a faintly sweet soup, which my parents prefer.

Sorry that my picture isn’t the best, hehe. Enjoy the delicious food!



4 thoughts on “Recipe: Tang Yuan in Sweet Rice Wine(酒酿汤圆)

    1. Mung bean soup, I have a recipe 🙂
      Chinese people, as I have said, don’t have many sweet foods… and most of them are soups or something with bean paste (and there aren’t many). Hehe. Also Chinese meals never end with a dessert. I just call sweet foods “desserts”. The sweet foods are usually eaten in a tiny portion as a snack. There are a few that can be eaten after a meal I guess. Mooncakes are eaten while watching the full moon. So that must be after dinner right? But there is no dessert course in meals in China. (In more upscale restaurants now it is common to serve fresh fruit after dinner. I was served watermelon many times while in China during summer. Not sure if this is done in the colder seasons though.)
      So anyways although mung bean soup is traditionally served piping hot, it is a new custom to serve it chilled, at least in Hong Kong. There are also many popsicle vendors in China and they all have mung bean popsicles. Or the mung bean / azuki (red) bean combo.
      Tang yuan can still be eaten at any time of year though. They are traditionally served on Yuan Xiao Festival in China, or Winter Solstice in Malaysia. Both are in the cold season, but you can still find tang yuan in the hot season. 🙂
      Chinese people always eat hot food and drink hot tea year round. Ice water is unheard of anywhere. In USA all my friends MUST drink water with ice and if no ice, they don’t drink it! It’s crazy! I only drink room temp water, or ice water only in restaurants. My parents only drink hot water or tea. They only drink room temp when travelling and necessary. Once in hotel, it must be heated using the coffee machine or water boiler (in Europe, Turkey, and Asia there is an electric kettle instead of coffee maker, very good)
      Anyways thanks for commenting and hope this is helpful 🙂

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