Sunday, February 24, 2008

Lantern Festival

Lantern Festival falls exactly 15 days after the Chinese New Year and it ends the celebration of the new year. Lanterns are hung all over the city and sticky rice dumplings (yuanxiao) served in sweet (or savoury) soup are eaten.
The sweet soup is usually made with rock sugar and ginger, but I used slab sugar and kumquat, so if you want to impress your Chinese friends don't do as I did, although the soup was very delicious.

Slab sugar is a Chinese type of sugar that is made of white sugar, brown sugar and honey. It gives a bit of brownish color but it doesn't have a strong flavor.

Yuanxiao-sticky rice dumplings

1 dl sticky rice flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 dl hot water
1 dl red bean paste for the filling

4 dl water
100 gr slab sugar (1 stick)
10 kumquats, sliced and seeded

Mix flour, oil and water with a spoon until the dough comes together. Let rest for 15 minutes. The sticky rice flour lives up to its name when you mix it with water, the dough is incredibly sticky. To be able to work with it you need to sprinkle the dough with sticky rice flour so that it doesn't stick to your hands. Divide the dough in 10 pieces, flatten each piece with a slightly thicker center and put a bit of red bean paste in the middle, close carefully.

Put water and sugar in a sauce pan and simmer until sugar melts. Add kumquats and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside.

In another pan boil 1 liter of water and boil dumplings until they float on the surface. Put couple of dumplings in a small bowl together with the kumquat soup. Serves 2-3.

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