Making glutinous rice balls (tong yuen)

Took me 3 times to get it right but no matter, because at last I managed to satisfy my tong yuen craving which had been bugging me for the past week. The previous two failures were due to my own carelessness. I used rice flour instead of glutinous rice flour. The balls made with ordinary rice flour ended up hard as pebbles and still floury on the inside….they were disgusting.

So, ladies and gentlemen. Remember, to make tong yuen, tang yuen or glutinous rice balls…GLUTINOUS RICE FLOUR is your friend. Tepung pulut. Loh mai fun.

And while twittering about my tong yuen making adventure (or failures), so many people remarked how easy it is, how it’s not considered cooking cause it’s so easy, how to make them properly, etc. Talk about superiority complex! Some people do get it wrong, you know. People like me. People like me who make tong yuen until they’re on the verge of tears because the damn balls wouldn’t float!

And so, here is a pictorial guide in making tong yuens that will float when they’re cooked. First of all you need a couple of ingredients.

1. GLUTINOUS rice flour.
2. Water
3. Ginger
4. Gula Melaka (for the filling, of course you can put other filling also like azuki/red bean paste, peanuts, use your creativity etc)
5. Honey rock sugar (for the soup)
6. Pandan leaves (for the soup, optional, i can’t be bothered)

#1 – Glutinous rice flour.
Glutinous rice flour.
You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t given any quantity. I don’t cook like that. I eye, and so should you.

#2 – Add water.
Add water to glutinous rice flour.
Add water into the flour, little by little, mix em up.

#3 – Glutinous rice goo.
This is not what you want.
This IS NOT what you want. You want to turn it into a dough, not goo. So add more glutinous rice flour, little by little till it forms into a malleable dough.

#4 – Glutinous rice dough.
Like this!
Like this! Stick it in the freezer – trust me it’s easier this way.

#5 – Chop up the Gula Melaka.
Yummy gula melaka chunks.
You should have estimated the size of your balls by now, so get the size of the gula melaka right! You don’t want to overstuff or understuff the balls.

#6 – Making the balls.
Making the balls.
Get the dough out of the freezer. Tear a small chunk out of it. Roll it into a ball (between your palms). Flatten the ball, and then put a piece of Gula Melaka in the centre.

#7 – Closing the gap.
Closing the currypuff.
Like sealing a curry puff, just pinch the edge of the dough together to cover the Gula Melaka completely. Then roll the whole thing into a ball again. This ensures that your filling won’t ooze out when it’s cooking.

#8 – Balls
End result.
This should be the end result.

#9 – Make as many as you can till the dough runs out.
Dough balls.
Some big, some small, makes the world a funner place. Stick the plate of balls into the freezer again.

#10 – Slice up the ginger.
Slice up the ginger for the soup. Ginger gives it a bit of kick, and you’d need that cause the balls are sweet!

#11 – Boil up the ginger, rock sugar and remaining Gula Melaka.
Making the soup
Now boil up the lot. If you have some leftover Gula Melaka, throw it in too.

#12 – Boil up the balls.
Boil up the balls.
In another pot, boil up some water. When it’s bubbling, throw in the balls. Stir occasionally to avoid them sticking to the bottom. When they’re cooked, they will float!!!!!! Just like this picture. YAY YIPPPEE YAI YAY.

#13 – Tong yuens.
Tong yuens.
Now scoop up the cooked balls and throw it into the gingery soup. You can boil em up in the gingery soup again if you want.

#14 – The perfect sphere.
The perfect sphere.
The perfect sphere.

#15 – The perfect bite.
The perfect bite.
The perfect bite.

p/s: I don’t put colouring into my balls cause I keep it real like that.

p/p/s: All pictures taken with Nokia N82.

p/p/p/s: don’t stick the dough in freezer for too long, it will crack! just 3 or 4 mins to make them easier to be handled!

32 thoughts on “Making glutinous rice balls (tong yuen)”

  1. I was following your adventure on Twitter and sorry to say, had to LOL when you twitted about the glutinous rice flour :) Still, they look good and now you make me want to try making them!

  2. hehehe…finally! :) was wondering whether to start a pool to see how long before you’d succeed…*LOL*…but they look good!! (now when you going to make some for me to try ah??)

  3. Kim, great work! :)

    I love the play by play photos – very useful in doing my own now that I have a proper kitchen space. Catch up ya?

    I’m in PJ now. Working in Kelana Jaya.

  4. and wow, what an emphathetic answer!
    seriously lady, do you think that singaporeans are the only human beings who lack emphathy? or is it just a global phenomenon? or may i dare risk an answer closer to home- that you’re mere jealous and judgemental?
    shall get the hell out of your blog. cant be bothered to add traffic to your holier(or more emphathetic)-than-thou blog.

  5. xxnthian: thanks :)

    qinghui: lighten up! That’s the thing with you and most singaporeans…you are eternally faultless, aren’t you! Lets not even begin on the complete lack of sense of humour. Who’s the judgemental one? You’re the one that calls me that after merely reading about how i hate singaporean FOOD. Yeah so i criticise yous taste buds, lynch the food elitist! Maybe you’ve forgotten that i mentioned about my singaporean friends whom i love and respect, they possess the same self deprecating humour as i do, thank goodness. So before you come to my blog and call me judgemental, how about taking a look in the mirror? And hey, if it pleased you to leave this blog, please by all means. If i had cared so much about my blog traffic i would have blogged about how ugly other people are very much like that vertically challenged orange creature across the causeway

    Anon: some people like em stumpy. It’s ok i get it.

  6. heyy thanks for the recipe abt the tong yuen. yours was like the easiest recipe to do after searching for LOADS on the internet. :D
    is that you in your blog header?
    uber cool pic.

  7. Thanks so much for the recipe. I will try it out in a couple of hours. I really suck at making glutinous rice balls. Have been trying for so many years… 14 to be exact since I got married. Each time, the centre is hard after like 6 hours.

    I love the photos too, especially on the one that’s not good … The goo one! Anyway, have a great celebration! Cheers!

  8. I usually boil mine in the same pot…why must boil in different pot? Less pot to wash^^ in uni we would stuff with cheese, chocolate etc and use pandan juice/carrot juice/ocha etc natural colour. I made some with store bought ones, only white, ctracked a few and floated like fish balls but still yummeh ^^

  9. My mom and I actually make ours with natural food coloring meaning we actually pound pandan leaves, blend carrots or beets. We’ve even used orange juice before! It’s super pretty and so much fun to make.

    Ps I’ve tried making scones according to your recipe but alas they turned out rock hard. To this day I still don’t know what I did wrong. Haha.

  10. I happened to accidentally stumble onto your blog. (I was looking for a good Princess Beef recipe.). That was hours ago. I must say…I LOVE YOUR BLOG! It has a little bit of everything. (I’ve got to try that Pear Cake! It looks YUMMY!)
    Also, your awesome personality easily flows through your writing so well. I think you did say your profession IS writing. At any rate, it’s very nice (and entertaining) to read.

    A couple of simple questions about the soup. (I’ve never had this before or even heard of it. It just looks really good.) Do you change your stock if you have more of a savory filling for the balls? Or, do you just keep the same gingery stock regardless?

    My other question is, how is the soup alone without the balls? Reason I ask is because I’ve heard that ginger is great for upset/nauseated tummies. I just wondered if the broth for this would be good for that.

    What kind of other fillings can you use.

    1. Hi Niecey! Thanks for your compliments haha

      1. No I don’t change my stock cause that’s how I have it traditionally. Some people like the balls with read bean soup (azuki beans stew sorta) or sweetened light coconut milk.

      2. The gingery soup alone is quite belly warming and comforting though I’ve never really just make the soup to drink it on its own.

      3. For fillings, I’ve used peanut butter. You can also use sweetened black sesame paste, nutella, azuki bean paste, ground peanuts etc.


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