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Yuanxiao Typical Chinese Food
People are eating yuanxiao at the Lantern Festival. The custom of eating yuanxiao in celebration of the Lantern Festival dates back to the Song Dynasty. Yuanxiao are also called dumplings. They are so called because the round white dumplings swimming in the bowl resemble the moon which shines brightly on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month.
In the past, these dumplings were only available during the Yuanxiao Festival which is how they acquired their name.Nowadays, yuanxiao are no longer available only during the Lantern Festival. Frozen yuanxiao are available at all major supermarkets, while fresh yuanxiao made on the spot are served in many dim sum restaurants.
Yuanxiao are made of ground sticky rice, and are also sometimes stuffed with other fillings. Solid yuanxiao are served in fermented glutinous rice soup or sweet soup, while stuffed yuanxiao are usually cooked in boiling water.
Yuanxiao recipes and flavours vary considerably from region to region. Take Beijing yuanxiao for instance. The first step is to prepare the filling, which is usually sweet. This is molded into small dices and then placed in a large bamboo tray covered with dry ground sticky rice.
As the tray swings, they catch a layer of pulverized rice. Then they are taken out for moistening and put back to catch another layer as the tray swings, over and over again until the dices grow into balls enveloped with multi-layered sticky rice.
In southern China, the making of dumplings involves preparing sticky rice dough, stuffing the filling into dough dices, and molding them into balls. Fillings can be salty if prepared with fresh meat (or a combination of vegetables and meat), or sweet if prepared with sesame, red bean paste, and gingko.
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