Malaysian Monday 59: Glutinous rice balls in syrup (Tong yuen/Ee) and Muhibbah Malaysian Monday round-up #6.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year everyone. How did 2010 treat you?

We’ve been fortunate over here at the Skewer residence, last year was pretty even-keeled, with hardly any blips on the radar. There were many happy moments to be treasured, including my brother’s wedding and our visit to Malaysia.

The year seemed to whizz by too quickly though, and I didn’t get a chance to update the blog as often as I would have liked to. In fact, I didn’t get around to doing quite a few things before the end of the year*. Making these glutinous rice balls (tong yuen/ee) was one thing I neglected to do. Actually, I wouldn’t  even have known it was time to make them if Mum hadn’t sent a text message, a couple of days before Christmas, to remind me.


I never really knew what these little coloured balls signified, I just happily ate them when they appeared, but a quick web search revealed that tong yuen is usually eaten at the Dongzhi (Winter solstice) Festival. Ha! In my part of the world, it’s still summer, so I’m actually a few months early...how’s that for organised then?

These balls (we called them Ee at home) are relatively easy to make - the dough is made from glutinous rice flour, a touch of sugar, and water. Mum had sent over instructions she’d gleaned from a Malaysian newspaper article, but the ee that she made from that recipe turned out quite mushy. Again, a quick search of the internets and I found a great tip at My Asian Kitchen, (originating from Lily’s blog), on how to get chewier balls. The trick is to use boiling water to make the dough.

You can find recipes at both of those links. For my dough, I used approximately 3 cups of glutinous rice flour, 2 tbsp caster sugar, 1 heaped tablespoon tapioca flour (for added chewiness), 3/4 cup boiling water and about 1/2 cup room temperature water. The dough starts off quite sticky and you may need to adjust the amount of flour and water to get the right consistency. If too sticky add more flour, if too dry, add more water. Knead until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands anymore.  I found that adding water s-l-o-w-l-y helps. It’s easy to overshoot and end up with a sticky, sloppy mess, so start kneading when the mixture doesn’t look wet enough, trust me, it will get there.

Divide the dough into portions and add food colouring in whatever hues you fancy. I chose happy, rainbow colours to start the year on a sweet note.


Start with primary colours, Red, Yellow and Blue...



Then do some colour mixing! For the indigo, I added more blue colouring and a drop of red to the light blue dough. In the middle are three "just for fun" rainbow balls made from each of the colours. The larger balls take longer to cook though.


To cook, simply drop a few balls at a time into a large saucepan of rapidly boiling water. They will float to the surface when cooked, scoop them up with a slotted spoon then place in a bowl of cool boiled water until ready to use. Storing them in the bowl of water stops the balls from sticking to each other.

We always ate these balls served in a warm gula melaka (palm sugar) based syrup, flavoured with ginger. You can also serve them in plain sugar syrup, or even in a clear savoury soup. Personally, I prefer sweet. Because the balls themselves are quite bland, the strength of the final dish rests in the sugar syrup. To make the sugar syrup, I used 1/4 cup chopped gula melaka (dark palm sugar), 3 tablespoons caster sugar, 3 cups of water and a slice of ginger (thumb sized). Place everything in a small saucepan and stir over gentle heat until the sugars dissolve, then bring to a slow simmer and take off the heat. Can be used warm or at room temperature.



These ee are best eaten on the day they are made. You can store the leftover sugar syrup in the fridge and make a new batch of ee as needed, or use the syrup over some tropical fruit perhaps?



Thanks for visiting my first Malaysian Monday post for the year. My friend Suresh over at 3 Hungry Tummies has posted a fantastic round up of our blog event, Muhibbah Malaysian Monday #6. Hard to believe that we’ve run 6 of these already! Please join us for the next one, which I will be hosting. You can find details of the event here, it’s open to everyone, and please email your entries for Muhibbah Malaysian Monday #7 to its(dot)sharon(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you to all our wonderful friends who took part and I really must give a shout out to Bo from Bo’s Bowl who took the plunge and cooked his first ever Malaysian dish just for the event. Yay!

Wishing all of you a great start to 2011, may the year ahead be filled with joy, love, health, peace and RAINBOWS!!

*(I never got around to making fruit cake either, and I’m determined to make some, so don’t be too surprised if you see Christmassy fruitcake appear here soon!).

18 comments:

lena said...

hello shaz, your 'ee' are so colourful, i'm sure you had fun making those. I was a bit tired on the day before that' winter sol.day' so i just bought the ready mixed dough and just make them into balls at home. also , just submitted an MMM entry today.

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

I love glutinous rice balls! Yours are super bright and colourful - the rainbow ones are psychedelic!

Heavenly Housewife said...

I've never eaten anything like these, but my goodness they look A-mazing!!! They remind me of giant gumballs. I want to eat them.
*kisses* HH

Jennifurla said...

These are so pretty! Glad to learn about them.

ICook4Fun said...

Love the vibrant colour of the glutinous rice balls. I completely forgotten about the festival this season.

chocolatesuze said...

i love colouful desserts! wishing you rainbows too shaz!

mashi said...

Yum Shaz, I'd happily goggle up these colourful babies mmm

Happy new year x

3 hungry tummies said...

They are the most colourful tang yuen I have seen :) I missed the actual day too but my phone now tells me all the important Chinese festivals, maybe next year hehe

Indie.Tea said...

Yum, your rice balls are so pretty! I really need to incorporate more rice into my desserts :)
O, and I hope you have a happy and prosperous 2011!

grace said...

rainbows. i could definitely use some rainbows since it's been gloomy day after gloomy day here. :)

shaz said...

Thanks for all your wishes everyone.

Grace - you can have as many rainbows as you want :)

Barbara said...

What a fun recipe, Shaz! And yes, a great colorful way to start the New Year!

Juliana said...

Shaz, what a torture seeing these glutinous balls and not be able to eat them...I love this little treats. Love the idea of multiple colors :-) Happy New Year to you and your family!

Lisa said...

shaz, I've seen and tried glutinous rice balls before, but never ones so beautifully colored. They are so eye catching! So what if you ate them a few months early? lol Happy New Year to you and yours!!

Vanille said...

Happy New Year Shaz ! Wish you a year as colourful as these little treats !

jen cheung said...

I love TONG YUNE! But I never really had these ones - your so creative - maybe I should start making my own too!! I usually get the one frozen in a package for a pretty cheap price. like $2.00CAD for 10 balls. Saves a lot of time. I enjoy tong yune a lot..


Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR
jen @ www.passion4food.ca

Charmaine said...

Shaz, I love the colours...pretty. somehow, I have never enjoyed tong yuen..probably because we don't celebrate the festival and only the time we get to eat it is when we visit my grandma in penang. But, looking at your tong yuen, I might try it this year.

shaz said...

Thanks everyone :)