Eating tong yuen (Chinese for glutinous rice balls) is the tradition during Dong Zhi (Chinese for the Winter Solstice festival) as it brings you good luck. Legend claims that in Ancient China, a poor family caught a fish to celebrate Dong Zhi but in her haste to eat it, a fish bone was stuck at the mother's throat causing her discomfort. A beggar approached them for food and the daughter gave the fish as that was the only food they had. Seeing the mother's discomfort, the beggar gave her lumps of dough which she shallowed and got rid of the fish bone. After hearing this, the villagers believe that eating tong yuen will help ward of bad luck and that tradition has persisted till modern day.
Although it is not Dong Zhi, we always eat tong yuen whenever we go to a dessert shop as we love it. One day, we discovered these frozen tong yuen at the supermarket and thought hey, they look so simple to get ready so why not try them? We did and I must admit, the taste of the rice balls is the same as those ones in the dessert shop. The brand we usually buy is KG Pastry and they have red bean paste, black sesame paste and peanut paste tong yuen. Now, we end up stocking up a few packets of frozen tong yuen in the freezer so whenever we feel like having it, it is ready in no time i.e. a perfect cheat's dessert!
We always drink ours with hot ginger syrup, some people usually accompany their tong yuen with pandan flavoured syrup or soya bean milk. The ginger syrup is easy to make, just peel and slice some young ginger, put in boiling water with sugar. Boil for about 10 minutes to let the flavours develop and serve boiling hot with your tong yuen which have been boiled seperately in hot water until they float up to the surface. The ones below are stuffed with peanut paste but our all time favourite is still the black sesame ones.