Thanks to yimster for reminding me that yuanzi (tong yong, tang yuan, or whatever you want to call it) is one of my favorite foods.
I've never made these little rice dough balls from scratch, so I made some plain ones tonight as practice. In the next few days I'm going to experiment with a savory filling.
Does anyone know how they make the liquidy peanut paste to fill these? I assume you grind toasted shelled peanuts in your food processor, add sugar, but have no idea what to add to incorporate moisture. Or does the moisture come from the boiling liquid?
Anyway, these turned out better than I expected. I'm never buying frozen yuanzi again. The technique is outlined in the link below.
I started with 1/2 pound glutinous rice flour. Using the paddle in my stand mixer, I added 1/2 cup boiling water, then 1/2 cup ice water slowly until the dough came together. The traditional way would be to stir in hot water rapidly with a pair of chopsticks. I actually put in a little too much water and had to add about 1/4 pound more of flour to compensate. I did all this without measuring, since each bag of rice flour is 1 pound. I used about 3/4 of it by the end.
I turned the dough out onto a floured surface, working flour into the warm dough as necessary. The dough should be soft and fairly dry on the outside, but still a little sticky if you cut into the middle.
I rolled my dough out into a long strip about half an inch wide, then snipped it into sections with my kitchen scissors. I rolled each into a ball and lightly floured. Most went into the freezer, but I cooked up a few to check the texture. Fresh, they only take a few minutes in boiling water. Frozen, my technique is to boil water, put the yuanzi in, let the water come up to a boil again, and cook for three minutes from that point (depending on the size of your yuanzi).
Incredibly soft and tender, and ready to be improved with ginger sugar water or various fillings. I can't wait to experiment.
Yimster mentioned that overworking the dough might make it tough. I think this is less a problem than he fears. I let my stand mixer run for several minutes on the #2 setting, since I was adding more flour to make up for my initial mistake. The result was still fairly soft, and my boyfriend even commented that he would have enjoyed it a little more chewy. I can't imagine how a human being could work the dough more than a stand mixer can, so it shouldn't be a big problem.
For those who have never tasted yuanzi, I would style them as Asian rice gnocchi. If you like soft tender gnocchi, this is probably something for you.