I started a small series on Chinese New Year foods a while back, although I really didn't do all that much to celebrate this year. Some New Year foods are normally only available around New Year's. Others have become available year round, such as these sweet, glutinous rice dumplings, tong yuan. I love them at any time of year but, since they need to be served hot, they are especially nice in cold weather. The shape, and the sound of the words, brings to mind togetherness during the New Year with family and friends.
You can make your own with glutinous rice flour, water and various fillings (people did, of course, make these by hand long ago), but neither Moocow nor I have had much success getting the right consistency for the dumpling dough, and it's so much easier just to buy them in the frozen aisle at a Chinese supermarket! My favourite are the ones filled with black sesame paste.
Heat a pot of water (volume of water depending on how many dumplings you are cooking) add some brown slab sugar and a couple of slices of peeled ginger. When the water is boiling, add the tong yuan. They will sink, so stir them once or twice to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
As they cook, the dumpling dough will expand and the tong yuan will start to float. At this point, the tong yuan should cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve them in a bowl with some of the sweet liquid, which you can drink as well. You really should eat them while they're hot, but be careful because the runny filling is very hot and very sweet, so you could really burn yourself. There's very little to compare with the pillowy-soft, chewy outside and the sweet and warming inside of a tong yuan.