Pork Tang Yuan (Pork Rice Balls)

Today's recipe is celebrating the Chinese Lantern Festival.  The Lantern festival notes the end of Chinese New Year.  According to Brittanica, this festival celebrates deceased ancestors and promotes reconciliation, peace and forgiveness.  Homes are typically decorated with colorful paper lanterns.  Glutinous filled rice balls (Tang Yuan) are the customary food for this celebration as the roundness of the balls symbolize wholeness and unity in families.

Tang Yuan are typically filled with nuts, fruit, or sweet flavors, but can be filled with savory flavors as well, which I used in today’s recipe.  Since savory Tang Yuan can be served in broth, mine ended up more like a soup.  I ended up putting some stir fry veggies in my bowl as well which made for a balanced (and delicious) meal!

Look here for more recipes to celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival:

Recipe Notes:

-The filling makes double (or more) than is needed for the rice wrappers.  I baked the rest of the filling as mini meatballs in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, then tossed them in with the veggies I served with the Tang Yuan (napa cabbage, mushrooms, & broccoli, tossed with soy sauce, sriracha, ginger, & garlic). You can make more of the rice dough for a larger batch of Tang Yuan.

-Yes, the dough calls for both boiling and cold water - see the rationale in the inspiration post (linked below the recipe title)

Pork Tang Yuan (Pork Rice Balls)

Adapted from China Sichuan Food

Pork Filling

1 pound ground pork

2 button mushrooms, diced small

½ cup napa cabbage, sliced thin

2 green onions, diced small

1 egg

2 tablespoons less sodium soy sauce

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon chinese five spice powder

Rice Dough

2 cups glutinous rice flour

¼ cup boiling water

¾ cup cold water

To Serve

1 quart chicken broth

Sliced green onions

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Stir fry vegetables, optional (see note)

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the filling ingredients, set aside to marinate.

To make the rice dough, pour the rice flour in a bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the boiling water.  Gently stir some flour into the water until it absorbs.  Allow the mixture to rest for 2-3 minutes.

Next, stir in the cold water until completely absorbed.  Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth.

Divide the dough into 16 equal portions.  Flatten each portion.  Add about 1 teaspoon of filling into the center, then bring the edges around to seal the rice ball. Set aside under a damp towel while the remaining rice balls are created.  See note for ideas for any extra filling.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the rice balls and boil until they begin to float.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes to ensure the rice balls are cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth.  Season with sesame oil and soy sauce.

Use a slotted spoon to scoop the rice balls into bowls.  Top with a scoop of broth and a sprinkling of green onions.  If desired, serve with stir fry veggies, either on the side or in the broth.


  1. These sound delicious Amy and so does the idea of the filling made into meatballs and tossed with veggies.

  2. Perfect recipe for the Chinese Lantern Festival. Love how delicate the broth looks.

  3. Those look amazing, Amy. I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing.


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