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Dumplings - Tong Yuen (Black Sesame/Peanut Soup Balls)

Updated: Feb 3, 2021

Similar to sesame balls but boiled and SO delicious in their own right. Tong yuen can be made savory or sweet. Made of sweet glutinous rice, the wonderfully chewy outside surrounds a wonderful hidden filling. Perfect bites with a spoonful of soup. Perfect to warm up your insides on a winter day. Seriously, give it a try!

Like sesame balls these are perfect for serving during festivals. The sticky sweet glutinous rice flour was believed to be an offering to the Kitchen god with the goal of sticking his mouth shut so that he could not talk badly of the human family in front of the Jade Emperor. Who needs badmouthing in any realm?

These rice balls can be filled with a variety of fillings from savory dumpling fillings to sweet pastes. My favorite is a sweet black sesame/peanut mixture, recipe below. Feel free to experiment and fill with any number of ready made pastes found in your local Asian market. Serve the sweet tong yuen in a sweet gingery soup and savory tong yuan in your favorite stock.

If you're feeling really ambitious try to making your own red bean, mung bean, lotus or sesame paste. See Mix & Match section for recipes for other fillings.

Tong Yuen/Tangyuan

In this recipe the rice soup balls are filled with a sweet black sesame-peanut filling. See the Mix & Match section for other fillings. The dough recipe makes 12 balls but the filling makes enough for 48 balls. Plan on saving extra filling, or increase dough amount to match quantity desired.

Ingredients (makes 12 balls)

Tong Yuen

1 cups glutinous rice flour

1/2 cup very warm water (about 130°F)

Filling (makes enough for 48 balls - 5 g each)

3/4 cup black sesame seeds, lightly toasted and cooled

1/2 cup roasted peanuts

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup softened butter, peanut butter or coconut oil


3 cups water

4 Tablespoons sugar, granulated

1 1/2" piece of ginger, sliced into coins


Lightly toast the black sesame seeds in a small frying pan over medium low heat, just until you can start smelling a nutty aroma and seeds make a crackling sound. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Should be quick so do not walk away. Place in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add roasted peanuts and sugar and blend to a fairly fine consistency. Stop every so many pulses to scrape down and mix. Add softened butter and pulse about 10 seconds. Remove mixture to a bowl and mix with a spoon to make sure it is uniform. Cover and place in refrigerator until needed.

Make the outer dough. Mix rice flour and warm water with a spatula until all the flour has been incorporated. Knead briefly with your hands to form a ball. Dough should not be sticky. If too wet, add a little more rice flour and knead together. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a zip top bag or airtight container and let rest allowing all the flour to hydrate.

Make the soup. In a medium saucepan over medium high heat combine the 4 cups of water, sugar and ginger slices and bring to a boil. Lower heat so that mixture is just simmering.

Assemble tong yuen. Roll the dough into a log abut 1" in diameter. Cut into 12 pieces (16 g each) and roll each piece into a ball. Place back in zip top bag or container or place a damp towel over balls to prevent them from drying out.

Remove filling from the refrigerator. Take one dough ball and flatten into a disk about 2 1/4" in diameter and 4 mm thick. If possible, make it slightly cup shaped. Use a teaspoon to scoop the filling (5 g each) into the center. Bring up the sides of the dough to enclose the filling. Pinch seams to seal. Roll between your hands to form a smooth ball. Place on a sheet of parchment and cover with a damp cloth until all the balls are complete.

Place extra filling in airtight container and back into the refrigerator or freeze.

Raise the heat on the soup back to medium high. Carefully lower the tong yuen into the boiling soup immediately stirring to prevent tong yuen from sticking to bottom of pot and to each other. Stir occasionally until all the balls are floating, about 5-10 minutes. Serve and enjoy immediately. They will be warm so be careful.

If you don't want to make all of the tong yuen immediately, keep uncooked prepared tong yuen in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Chris' tip: look under Mix and Match for recipes for other fillings to try!

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