I really loves this dessert.. It is not my creation but a very common dessert in Shanghai and Ningbo. It has a very smooth black sesame filling that will flow out of the tangyuan. In the Ningbo area, it is called 黑羊酥汤圆 （literally translated as the black sheep dumpling). However, I am unsure why the name is used as I cannot trace any literature support for this name. But if you use Hei Yang Su tangyuan in Ningbo, Suzhou and Shanghai area, I am sure many people will know this famous tangyuan.
In Shanghai, this specially tangyuan is served dry and can be coated with peanut or other flour. The name is called Lei Sha Tangyuan (擂沙汤圆) . Lei or 擂 is a Chinese word for grinding and Sha or 沙 means sand. This is because usually the black sesame seeds or even peanuts were pounded or grind in a wooden or concrete mortar until very fine. After cooked the tangyuan was coated with some peanut powder or soya bean powder or sesame powder that have a slightly sandy exterior and hence the name lei sha tangyuan is being called. In contrast of the soupy version of tangyuan, these tangyuan was served dry with coating.
One of the main criteria of this Hei Yang Su tangyuan is that the fillings need to be smooth and ability to flow out when one takes a bite.
In order to make the lava flow effect happen, I am sorry to disappoint many readers that you need to use lard. Lard will solidify well in the fridge. Lard is the traditional taste that blends well with this filling, but if you are against using lard, you can use butter or any fats that can solidify at the fridge. This is extremely important because you need to scope out the filling to facilitate the wrapping. Once it is cooked, the fillings inside will melt and hence create a lava flow effect. It still flows even at room temperature in Singapore and Malaysia.
If you are interested in the lard recipe, you can refer to this post: Homemade Lard–Water Boiling Method (水煮猪油）。 In view of the recent trends to use animal lards instead of vegetable oils, I have switched back to using lard for my cooking almost a year ago. To me lard not only flavours a dish, it can withstand very high temperature and proven to be a healthy oil alternative than cooking oil especially for stir frying. I also used it for many pastry making since it produced crispier result . I am unsure if you can substitute with normal cooking oil, I think that it may not work as if the oil does not solidify at room temperature, how can you shape them? Even if you are able to shape them, I will think that it will not flow as your black sesame powder will be much more than the oil in order to have the shape.
“上海的擂沙汤圆，已有70多年历史，旧时是先用一只内壁带有梭形纹路的缸瓦土沙盆，再用一支质地坚硬的石榴木作为磨粉浆的“擂浆棍”，往沙盆中放入炒香的干豆，如花生、芝麻或黄豆，干磨出碎末粉状的“香沙”;最后，煮熟的汤圆在“香沙”里滚来滚去，于是粘粘的糯米丸子粘满了盈香扑鼻的“香沙”，故名为擂沙汤圆。有的食肆把它作为即点即做的点心，要吃的就是一咬馅料就有如流沙般涌出的新鲜感觉。” （Source: http://baike.baidu.com/view/2273330.htm)
WHAT IS REQUIRED
Servings: About 15 tangyuan but depends on size
Black Sesame Fillings
- 200 grams of black sesame seeds or ready made black sesame powder
- 15 grams of castor sugar
- 80 grams or ml of lard
- 220 grams of glutinous rice flour
- 30 grams of rice flour (substitutable by glutinous rice flour)**
- 250 grams or ml of water
- Pinches of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of lard
- Some peanut sugar powder for coating
** Adding rice flour to the dough will facilitate later shaping but yields a harder texture. Personally, I prefer no rice flour added as it yields softer tangyuans.
STEPS OF PREPARATION
- Dry fry over the stove using medium to low heat until the black sesame seeds are aromatic. You will know it is done when the colour lightens, aromatic, and start to jump over the pan. Take a few sesame seeds put in the mouth. If it is crispy, it is done. If it is not crispy, you have difficult to blend the seeds later.
- Put the lard, sugar and black sesame seeds in a blender. Blend until as find as possible and it forms a watery batter. Alternatively, you can blend the toasted sesame seeds in a food processor until powder form. Add sugar and and oil gradually until it forms a batter.
- Transfer the batter to a bowl and chill it until it is hard or solidify which takes about 3-4 hours. If you are running short of time, you can put it in the freezer to expedite the process.
- When the black sesame paste has harden, use something to scope out the black sesame paste, shape round and send back to the chiller or freezer until the dough is ready. The harder the filling, the easier it is to wrap the filling.
- Mix both flours together and divided into two equal portions.
- Bring the water to boil. Put half of the flour, off the heat, and stir until it forms a sticky dough. Transfer the sticky dough to another mixing bowl. Add the other half of the flour, use hand to knead until it forms a pliable dough. Lastly, add the oil and knead well.
- Shape the dough into oblong shape and use knife to cut into 12-15 dough. This however will depend very much on the size of your filling. As a rule of thumb, the dough to filling ratio is usually 2:3 meaning if your filling is 20 grams, your dough will be about 30 grams. Therefore, the number of dough needed will depend on the number of fillings prepared.
- Take one dough, shape round, flatten it and put a filling on the centre. Seal the edges and shape round. If the dough are sticky, pat your hand with more flour.
- In a pot, bring some water to boil. The water should at least be able to cover all the tangyuan. Once it boils, add the tangyuan carefully and once the tangyuan floats up, it is considered as cooked. Drain the tangyuan and put in a bowl of peanut sugar powder. Roll until well coated and the tangyuan is ready to be served as a dessert.
Whether or not this filling is nice or not will very much depends on the toasted black sesame seed. I can tell you store bought black sesame powder are not as aromatic as home prepared. If you are against the use of lard, this recipe is not suitable for you but is it not this is only consumed once a year? Lastly, this year winter solstice will fall on 21 December 2016 and are your ready for the festival?
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