Happy Dong Zhi! Today, we had tang yuan in two styles. There is the usual tang yuan in brown sugar syrup and this: tang yuan with jiu niang, a kind of fermented glutinous rice popular in the Jiangsu, Zhejiang region of China.
I first tasted jiu niang tang yuan in Shanghai. The winey rice grains and chewy tang yuan in a hot, sugary broth served with a dollop of osmanthus syrup 桂花酱 was perfect to warm the body on a freezing winter day.
A few months ago my aunt had sent me some wine yeast so that I can make my own jiu niang. This first attempt was not very successful as the rice mixture had over ferment. It was edible but the texture was not quite right. I will need to try a few more methods before posting a workable recipe.
While the jiu niang did not turn out that well, the homemade osmanthus syrup was a hit. The floral, apricot scented sweetener is a delicious addition to jiu niang, tea and even yogurt.
Soak osmanthus to rehydrate. Add sugar to some water and bring to a boil. Add the osmanthus and a pinch of salt to the sugar solution. Reduce the mixture to a syrup on low heat. You can also add honey to thicken the syrup. Let cool and keep the syrup in a clean glass bottle. Leave for a few days before using.