tang yuan recipe
Authentic Tang Yuan Soup recipe
by Liv

Authentic Tang Yuan Soup recipe

May 25, 2010 | Chinese Food, Recipes, Taiwanese Food | 21 comments

Tang Yuan

The other day I read about Ching He Huang’s recipe for this Tang Yuan soup on the good food channel and she mentioned this dish is specifically for Chinese new year which is not right.

Chinese and Taiwanese people eat Tang Yuan during the Yuan Xiao Festival (Lantern festival) and also Winter solstice. This is a very old tradition in both China and Taiwan.

The pronunciation of Tang Yuan also has a meaning of family reunion so when we eat Tang Yuan we are thinking about our friends and family who work or live far away.

My family didn’t have money for me to learn piano or painting, drawing when I was a child so I remember I always pulled a chair into the kitchen and stand on the chair where I would watch my grandfather cook.

I used to help him cook rice and wash vegetables when I was young but although he passed away some 10 years ago I still think about him all the time, especially when I’m cooking.

I think cooking for me is not just a job or daily routine for me. It’s also my childhood memory. I hope I can share more recipes and show that Chinese and Taiwanese culture and food is not the typical stereotype. Sadly a lot of people thinking all Eastern people eat dogs, cats and anything that moves. These people are of course narrow minded idiots.

I always remember one of the head chef I worked for before shook a goose gut in front of my face and asked me: “Do you Chinese all eat this kind of stuff??” However I already told him a million times that I’m not Chinese. But I think to a lot of people if you’re “Yellow” you must be Chinese.

So today I share with you my version of Tang Yuan recipe with you and I hope you will like it. I hope one day if you see a yellow person like me you can be a bit more welcome to them. They might be a nice person and a good friend in your life. “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Credit: These photos were taken by Chris at Chris Radley Photography

Tang Yuan meatballs


Tang Yuan

Course Main Dish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 5 portions


Ingredients for Tang Yuan pastry

  • 400 g glutinous rice flour
  • 1 tbsp potato starch
  • 200 g water
  • 20 g oil

Ingredients for Tang Yuan filling

  • 250 g pork mince try to use pork belly or fatty pork as it will improve the texture and taste
  • 30 g fried shallots
  • 1 spring onion chop finely
  • 1 thin slice ginger chop finely

Seasonings for Tang Yuan filling

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Couple pinches white pepper


Tang Yuan pastry procedures

  1. Mix everything together and knead it until it’s smooth.
  2. Take 15% of the mixture and separate them into 2 or 3 small balls and flatten them by hand. Boil some water in a small saucepan and cook those flatten mixture until it flow on the water.
  3. Mix the cooked mixture with the other raw mixture together evenly and separate the mixture into 25g each small balls.

Procedures for Tang Yuan

  1. Mix all the ingredients and seasonings for filling together evenly and leave it on aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Separate the filling into small balls and freeze them until they are hard. (It’s easier to make Tang Yuan if the filling is hard.)
  3. Use the pastry to cover the filling and make it look like a round shape.
  4. Boil some water to cook the Tang Yuan and when they float on the water they are cooked.
  5. Use another soup pot to cook stock and when it’s boiling add some chopped celery and dried shallots into the stock and season the stock with a bit of salt and sesame oil.
  6. Place the Tang Yuan into the soup and cook them for 1 more minute. You can also put some vegetables into the soup such as Bok Choy or any green vegetable.


By Liv

Illustrator by day, home chef at night. I worked as a professional chef for many years but now I draw for a living. I now cook just for the love of cooking. The recipes on this website are all influenced by things I have eaten in different locations around the world.

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  1. Cook with Madin

    Hi, this looks lovely. I love soup, I can eat them 3 or 5 times a day. Thank you for sharing.

    • admin

      Hello Madin,
      Hope you will enjoy my Tang Yuan Soup. Thank you very much for your comment.

  2. Jean

    Thanks for the sweet story about your grandfather and also this beautiful soup. It would be perfect to counter tonight’s cold and rain.

    • admin

      Hi Jean,
      Many thanks for the comment and I hope this soup will warm you up tonight!

  3. Chef Dennis

    Hi Liv

    what a wonderful soup!!! and I think you were lucky to have your grandfather to teach you a love of cooking….anyone can teach you piano, but to teach you to love cooking especially for others is a real gift….I’m sure your grandfather would be proud!

    • admin

      Hi Dennis,

      Cooking is a very valuable skill that my grandfather taught me and it’s my most precious memory. I totally agree with you about that anyone can teach you piano, but to teach you to love cooking especially for others is a real gift.

  4. Cannellette

    Hi Liv,
    Thanks for the lovely story about your grandfather, he sounds amazing. The soup looks lovely, I will definitely try it sometime!

    • admin

      Hi Cannellette,

      Many thanks for your comment. My grandfather is a awesome and amazing person. Good luck trying to make the soup.

  5. Judy

    Hi Liv,

    What wonderful memories you have of your grandfather. Although I never cooked with my jichan (grandfather in Japanese), I miss him quite a bit and for some reason, lately have been thinking of him more too. As a fellow Asian, I’ve similarly faced preconceived notions, but for every narrow-minded individual, there are at least 10 with beautiful open minds. 🙂

    Your soup looks very delicious! 🙂 For the stock, do you only add water w/ the celery, shallot, sesame and salt? Should I try this with (sorry if this sounds horribly amateur) chicken or beef bouillon cube? I love soup, and this looks like something my family would really enjoy too.

    • admin

      Hi Judy,
      Many thanks for your comment. I know there still have a lot of beautiful open minds people in the world just like you and my other readers 🙂 But I still hope to use this blog to help people to get to know eastern people and culture more.

      About the stock, I usually buy a whole chicken and I will de-bone the chicken. I keep the chicken breast for something such as Taiwanese fried chicken, chicken chow mein and I use chicken legs for drunk chicken, bang bang chicken…etc etc. Then i will use a bit of vegetable such as carrot ,onion, spring onion, ginger cook with chicken bone and that’s the chicken stock I used for my dish. This way is good value for food.

  6. Tanantha@ I Just Love My Apron

    I know! Some even think I’m Taiwanese ‘coz Thai and Taiwanese are the same? haha **sigh**

    Have to admit, I;m not familiar with this dish. Is it like a rice ball with stuffed pork? It looks so GOOD. Btw, love your bowl pattern and a new background!

    • admin

      Hi Tanantha,
      I have the same problem like you. People just think Thai = Taiwanese even though I’ve explained to them a hundred times but they still asked me something like “Do you speak Thai?”, “How long of time to take bus from Bangkok to Taiwan?”

      About the Tang Yuan, it is rice ball with stuffed pork inside and you also can switch the filling to other thing, such as red bean paste or sweet sesame paste.

      Btw, we bought the bowl from Cath Kidston (www.cathkidston.co.uk)

  7. Nancy aka Spicie Foodie

    Hi Liv,
    I love your childhood memories 🙂 What a great job you have to bring back such wonderful memories. As for the racist idiots, I’m sorry you’ve had to endure that. Unfortunately there are those shallow people that choose only to accept stereotypes and never learn anything about others. These narrow minded people don’t know what they are missing by not allowing themselves to explore,learn and experience all the wonderful different cultures in the world. I am not Asian but as a brown Mexican I too have experienced some ignorance. I would agree with Judy there are more people to make up for the few idiots 🙂
    One of these days I would love to go to Taiwan or China for the New Year, that would be lovely!

    • admin

      Hi Nancy,
      Thank you for your comment. You’re so sweet! I know I should ignore all those narrow minded people but some time I still feel sad about that.

      If you ever get the chance to to Taiwan or China you really should, they are completely unique from anywhere else. If you go Taiwan then let me know and if I’m there I’ll be happy to show you around.

      Many thanks for the award, that’s really made my day. Thank you again.

  8. Nancy aka Spicie Foodie

    Oh Liv I forgot why I stopped by , hehe sorry. I have an award for you, please stop by to collect it. Thanks

  9. Rick

    If someone shook goose guts in front of me I would cry.

    • admin

      lol Rick, I think most people would either cry or get really angry. I wasn’t impressed and really quite shocked

  10. Ling Foong

    Hello Liv,i was seaching for savoury Tang Yuan at googles when i came across your page and when i read about the mathod how you prepared the dough,I was surprised to learn that it is similiar to how my mum teach me,hahaha….anyway i will cook this stlye of savourry Tang Yuan for my mum who is bed ridden now.Thanks for the recipe and have a blessing New Year ahead.

    • admin

      Hi Ling Foong,

      Thank you for your comment. I hope both you and your mother would enjoy my Tang Yuan recipe and I’m really happy to know your mother use the same method of prepare the Tang Yuan dough the same way, which prove my recipe is real home-style cooking. 😉

      Enjoy your Chinese New Year and wish you all the best.


  11. Jacqui

    Hi Liv is the glutinous rice skin quite sticky? I used to buy dumplings in Singapore and they were so delicious…savoury filled…trying to find a recipe as I’m craving them! They were not in a soup…but I’m sure that doesn’t matter…(I love dumpling soup) just not sure what they are called….are you able to help? Thank you

    • admin

      Hi Jacqui,

      Yes glutinous rice skin is quite sticky and soft. It’s very different compare with the wrappers that made with flour . I’m not familiar with Singapore food but I found English is so confusing because in Chinese there are different name for different kind of dumplings but in English they all called “dumplings”! I personally really like this version of Tang Yuan. But you can enjoy without soup as well. 😀

      Hope you like my recipe. 🙂


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