Sweet Sesame Tong Jyun (甜湯圓)

Learn how to make this heartwarming dessert that's brimming with cultural significance!

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Prep Time
30 min
Total Time
60 min
Yields
4 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

Tong jyun for the holidays

Tong jyun, or tang yuan, is a traditional dessert for the Lantern Festival, which is the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year celebration. The round shape of the tong jyun balls mimics the roundness of the full moon on this day.

Tong jyun always brings up an important Chinese saying, 團團圓圓 (tyun tyun jyun jyun), because of the character 圓 jyun, which means round. The auspicious saying refers to the togetherness and completeness of a family, and evokes the imagery of a whole, complete family being together at a round dinner table, happily enjoying a meal, especially during holiday reunions.

Thankfully, it's not limited to holidays any longer! This simple dessert is enjoyed all year round.

Now, as a dessert, tong jyun is world-famous, but if you'd like to try tong jyun as a savory main course, that's actually a Toisanese regional specialty. Our family's tried-and-true recipe for it is right here. Check it out!

Tong jyun or tang yuan?

You might see the name of this dish written as tang yuan. Tong jyun is the pronunciation in the Cantonese language, and tang yuan is what you'd call it in Mandarin. Don't worry, it's the same thing.

Thank you, CantoMando!

This recipe is brought to you in part by CantoMando. They’re a YouTube channel created by three friends- Edward, Mike, and Sheldon. They make amazingly funny, thought provoking, and positive content. We’re so thankful to be part of this cool community where we can learn about our cultures and languages! Check out their new class, Canto to Mando Blueprint!

During our team meetings, we share our goals, and we always hear from each other that we want to learn more Mandarin, but as Cantonese speakers, we don’t know where to start since most classes are made for people who have zero Chinese background.

But this new program by CantoMando teaches you how to use your existing Cantonese background to get speaking conversationally fluent Mandarin super fast! If you’re in the same boat as us, you can learn more about the program and follow them on social media here:

Website: https://www.thecmblueprint.com/madewithlau

Check out a quick story summary of our recipe!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
4

Tong Jyun Balls

  • 10 oz glutinous rice flour
  • 5 oz hot water
  • 3 oz cold water (

    add more, little by little, as needed

    )

Filling

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp black sesame powder
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (

    smooth or chunky, up to your preference

    )
  • 2 tbsp honey

Sweet soup

  • 12 oz water
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp coffee creamer (

    or double the amount for milk

    )
  • 1 small amount shredded ginger (

    to taste

    )

Where to buy black sesame powder

You can most likely find this in your local Asian grocery store, in the beverages aisle, near products like instant coffee. Otherwise, you can nab one online; here's an Amazon link:

For your convenience, here's where you can stock up on glutinous rice flour and desiccated coconut too:

Tong jyun in different soups

You can add tong jyun to literally any sweet dessert soup that you like. Think of it as a versatile topping.

The reason we've made a simple milky sweet soup is because we think the white tong jyun looks really pretty bobbing along the surface of white soup. But you can throw tong jyun into red bean dessert soup, into a ginger-and-brown sugar dessert soup, anything!!

Measure out glutinous rice flour (10 oz) into a heat-safe bowl. Slowly pour in hot water (5 oz) while mixing it in with chopsticks.

Glutinous rice flour is responsible for the characteristic chewiness of the tong jyun, while hot water makes the dough more pliable and easier to knead.

Then slowly add cold water (3 oz), continuing to mix and knead the dough. As the cold water cools the dough down, you'll be able to dive in with your hands.

If the dough is still crumbly, add small amounts of cold water at a time, and knead until you end up with a soft, supple dough ball. It shouldn't be sticky or crumbly.

Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes, up to an hour.

Melt butter (1 tbsp) in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. It's okay if it's not completely liquified, as long as it's at least warm and soft.

Add black sesame powder (2 tbsp), desiccated coconut (1 tbsp), peanut butter (2 tbsp) and honey (2 tbsp) into the bowl of melted butter. Stir everything together until it forms a basically homogenous paste.

Transfer the filling onto plastic wrap, and spread it out into a flat rectangular layer about 1/2 inch thick. The thinness of the filling will help it cool down faster, and the rectangular shape will make it easy to divide and cut.

Wrap it up neatly to keep the filling from drying out, and freeze for 30 minutes, so that it can firm up for easy handling later.

In a large bowl, mix water (12 oz), granulated sugar (4 tbsp), and coffee creamer (2 tbsp). If using milk instead of creamer, simply use double the amount. Of course, you can always add more sugar or creamer/milk to taste!

Remove the filling from freezer and cut it into 1/2 inch squares. If you'd like larger pieces, you can cut into bigger pieces.

Take each cut piece of filling and roll them into balls between flattened palms. Repeat until you've finished all of the filling.

If the filling has chilled for too long and is too stiff to handle, let it thaw on the counter until it's soft enough to work with.

Divide the rice flour dough into 2 large pieces, and roll them into round logs. From those two logs, cut the dough into small pieces, about 1-2 inches long.

Each small piece will be a tong jyun with a piece of filling bundled up inside. We ended up with about 18 pieces.

Take a piece of rice flour dough, roll it into a ball, and then shape it into a little bowl by pressing into the center with your thumb.

Put a piece of filling into the well and pinch the dough over the opening to seal the filling in. Roll it around in your palms a bit to smooth out the seam, and the first tong jyun is complete! Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Boil a large pot of water. There needs to be enough water to completely cover all of the tong jyun. When the water has come to a rolling boil, carefully place tong jyun into the pot.

Give it an occasional stir to ensure the tong jyun don’t stick together. While they cook, prepare a bowl of ice water.

The tong jyun are ready when they float, which should take about 3.5 minutes. Pour a little ice water into the pot to temper the water, which will make the tong jyun sink a little below the surface and make them easier to scoop up.

Transfer the tong jyun into the ice water bath with slotted spoon. The shock of the ice water will make the tong jyun shrink just a bit, and keep them from melting down and sticking together in the final soup.

Stir the sweet soup mixture that was prepared earlier, in case it separated or settled while everything else was cooking. Pour the mixture into a clean pot, add shredded ginger (1 small amount). Cover the pot with a lid, and bring the soup to a boil on high heat.

When it has come to a boil, transfer the tong jyun into the pot. They only need to warm up for about 30 seconds.

Transfer the tong jyun into a large serving bowl. Taste the soup to adjust the flavor to your liking, then pour the rest of the soup into the serving bowl as well. Everyone can take the amount they want.

Summary

Sweet Sesame Tong Jyun (甜湯圓)
Learn how to make this heartwarming dessert that's brimming with cultural significance!
  • Prep Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 60 min
  • Yield: 4 servings

Tong Jyun Balls

  • 10 oz glutinous rice flour
  • 5 oz hot water
  • 3 oz cold water (

    add more, little by little, as needed

    )

Filling

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp black sesame powder
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (

    smooth or chunky, up to your preference

    )
  • 2 tbsp honey

Sweet soup

  • 12 oz water
  • 4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp coffee creamer (

    or double the amount for milk

    )
  • 1 small amount shredded ginger (

    to taste

    )

Step 1 - Create dough

↑ Jump to details

Measure out glutinous rice flour (10 oz) in a bowl, and gradually add hot water (5 oz) while mixing it.

Then slowly add cold water (3 oz), continuing to mix and knead the dough, until you end up with a soft, supple dough ball.

Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes, up to an hour.

Step 2 - Create filling

↑ Jump to details

Melt butter (1 tbsp) in the microwave for 20-30 seconds.

Add black sesame powder (2 tbsp), desiccated coconut (1 tbsp), peanut butter (2 tbsp) and honey (2 tbsp) into the bowl of melted butter, and stir until it forms a paste.

Transfer the filling onto plastic wrap, and spread it out into a flat layer about 1/2 inch thick.

Wrap it up neatly to keep the filling from drying out, and freeze for 30 minutes.

Step 3 - Create sweet soup

↑ Jump to details

In a large bowl, mix water (12 oz), granulated sugar (4 tbsp), and coffee creamer (2 tbsp).

Step 4 - Prepare filling & dough for rolling

↑ Jump to details

Remove the filling from freezer and cut it into 1/2 inch squares. Roll each piece into a ball.

Divide the rice flour dough into 2 large pieces, and roll them into round logs. From those two logs, cut the dough into small pieces, about 1-2 inches long.

Step 5 - Create rice balls

↑ Jump to details

Take a piece of rice flour dough, roll it into a ball, and then shape it into a little bowl by pressing into the center with your thumb.

Put a piece of filling into the well and pinch the dough over the opening to seal the filling in. Roll it around in your palms a bit to smooth out the seam, and repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Step 6 - Cook balls

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Carefully place the tong jyun in a large pot of boiling water. Stir occasionally to ensure the tong jyun don’t stick together.

While they cook, prepare a bowl of ice water. Once the tong jyun float to the surface, which will take about 3.5 minutes, temper the water with some ice water to sink the tong jyun a little below the surface for easier scooping.

Transfer the tong jyun into the ice water bath with slotted spoon.

Step 7 - Cook sweet soup & add balls

↑ Jump to details

Stir the sweet soup mixture that was prepared earlier, pour it into a clean pot, and add shredded ginger (1 small amount). Cover the pot, and bring the soup to a boil on high heat.

When it has come to a boil, transfer the tong jyun into the pot. They only need to warm up for about 30 seconds.

Step 8 - Plate

↑ Jump to details

Transfer the tong jyun into a large serving bowl. Taste the soup to adjust the flavor to your liking, then pour the rest of the soup into the serving bowl as well. Everyone can take the amount they want.

Step 9 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 10 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

Enjoy!

We have many, many happy memories of enjoying this dish growing up.

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories with this dish with your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to eat with us and learn more about the dish, Chinese culture, and my family.

Cheers, and thanks for cooking with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.