Eating tang yuan is what I considered the most important event during Chinese New Year Eve. Last year, I created the Matcha Tang Yuan, which I heard a lot of good feedback from. This year, I want to elevate its appearance and flavors. So I made these Crystal Tang Yuan with Lava Filling, including purple yam, jasmine osmanthus, and oolong brown sugar. Its main ingredient is tapioca starch, and I included some tips and tricks to prevent failures on your first trial.
For the soup base, I made an Osmanthus Ginger soup, which is hot and heartwarming. It is floral and light, which is a great pairing with the tea-flavored tang yuan. If you prefer enjoying it in a more traditional way, feel free to pair it with cane sugar soup.
What does Crystal Tang Yuan tastes like?
Crystal tang yuan has a similar texture as regular tang yuan made with glutinous rice flour. I think it has an ever better chew, just like the boba pearls but bigger in size.
What is Tapioca Starch?
Tapioca starch is also known as tapioca flour. It is a gluten-free flour, made from the cassava plant’s extracted starch. Similar to glutinous rice flour, it is a fine white powder, with a slightly sweet note. However, they cannot be used interchangeably. It is a key ingredient in making boba pearls, which become chewy and translucent when cooked. This will also be a key ingredient for this recipe.
Where can I buy Tapioca Starch?
As bubble tea becomes more popular, tapioca starch can now be found in almost any supermarket. However, different brands may absorb water differently, which can be tricky when making tang yuan. Here are a few types of tapioca starch that can be commonly found in Vancouver.
Erawan Tapioca Starch
Erawan Tapioca Starch can be found literally in every supermarket. However, I found that this brand requires a specific and accurate water temperature. For me, it caused many failures on the first step when making the tang yuen skin.
Cock Brand Tapioca Starch
Cock Brand Tapioca Starch is not as commonly found, but I have seen them in T&T Supermarket, Walmarts, and Pricesmart Foods. I found this to be easier to handle and would consider this as more of a fool-proof option.
Crystal Tang Yuan with Lava Filling
- Silicone Spatula
- Plastic Wrap
Skin for Tang Yuan
- 50 g tapioca starch
- 43 mL water
Jasmine Osmanthus Lava Filling
Matcha Soup Base (double the portion for 2 bowls)
- 1 tbsp osmanthus honey
- 2 slices ginger
- 75 mL hot water
To prepare jasmine osmanthus lava filling:
- Sift jasmine green tea powder into a small bowl. Add lukewarm milk. Whisk until combined. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, add milk (28g), whipping cream, osmanthus honey, corn starch, and jasmine tea mixture. Mix until combined with no lumps.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, until bubbles start showing on the edge. This should take less than 30 seconds, so do not leave it unattended.
- Turn down to medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture is thickened. Remove from heat immediately. Set aside to cook down.
- Transfer them into a piping bag.
- Option 1: line the empty min ice cube tray with plastic wrap. Pipe the mixture into the ice tray. Freeze for at least 2 hours or best overnight. Option 2: pipe the mixture in a round ball silicone mould. They are specifically for making perfectly round fillings, each weighing 5g. Freeze for at least 2 hours or best overnight. Option 3: leave them in a piping bag. Put in the fridge overnight. However, this is only recommended if you are an expert in wrapping tang yuan.
To prepare skin for tang yuan:
- Boil water in a small saucepan. Prepare the tapioca starch in a medium mixing bowl.
- Once the water starts boiling, pour them directly into the tapioca starch. Use a silicone spatula to mix until it fully absorbs the water. At this point, the mixture should instantly become slightly translucent and doughy.* It is important to use boiling water. If the water is prepared in a hot water dispenser, it is still not hot enough to cook the tapioca flour.
- Use your hand to knead and form it into a dough. The dough should not be too wet or sticky. Continue to knead until it looks smooth.
- Wrap the dough with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Once removed from the fridge, dust with a little bit of tapioca starch. Knead again until the dough turns softer.
- Separate the dough into 5g each. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
- Take the lava filling out from the freezer. It should now be solid and ready to use.
- Take one dough out and flatten it into a circle about 2 inches in diameter. Add the filling to the center, and close the dough over the filling.
- Roll the ball around in your hands until it’s smooth and round. Dust it with tapioca starch. Put it on a tray and cover it with a damp cloth (to prevent dry out). Repeat until all the fillings are gone.
To cook tang yuan:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the tang yuan and stir immediately to prevent them from sticking. When all the balls start to float on the surface, remove the pot from heat. Cover it with a lid and let it sit for another 15 minutes.
- While waiting for the balls to cook, prepare an osmanthus soup base. In a bowl, add osmanthus honey, ginger, and hot water. Mix until combined.
- Add the tang yuan into the sweet soup. Ready to serve.