Destination Flavour China: Episode 1 

Black Sesame Tang Yuan

Join Adam Liaw as he shows how to make Black Sesame Tang Yuan, a traditional chinese dessert commonly eaten during the Winter Solstice.

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It's called Tangyuan, or here in Beijing. It's called Yuanxiao. I'll start by making my black sesame filling. All I need to do is toast my black sesame seeds, then crush them using a spice grinder or the traditional Chinese way with a rolling pin. That looks pretty good now, so it's time to turn it into my filling. Into this fairly course sesame paste. I'll just add almost an equal amount of sugar, just a touch of wheat flour to then bind it together with wheat sprout syrup and a touch of water, but you could also use honey.

Let's roll these into some balls, a little bit bigger than one centimeter, and I'll chill those in the freezer for a bit. In the Southern style of Tangyuan my grandmother taught me, I'd make a dough from glutinous rice flour to wrap the sesame balls, but in Beijing they have a very different technique. I just put a touch of the glutinous rice flour into this cold water and it's time to get the sesame balls out of the freezer.

Just firmed up enough now, so they're hopefully not going to break apart as they go into this process. And the process is a little bit scary for me because they've got to get wet in the water and then be dipped into this glutenous rice flour and swirled around so that they coat. And they go back into the water and then back into the flower and build up layers. It's just basically doing this again and again and again. My Tangyuan are ready to be boiled. But the big difference for me between this and the Tangyuan in the south that I'm more used to is what it's served with. But here in Beijing, they're served just in the water that they're boiled in. A very plain flavored soup to offset the really sweet, syrupy filling of those black sesames.

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