Cooking log 46 : Winter Solstice, Mochi Balls in Sweet Rice Wine

Winter solstice, the day of longest night marking the beginning of winter.


As Chinese in Malaysia, we inherited many culture and custom from our ancestor birthplace. The custom to have Tang Yuan(Mochi ball) on winter solstice is one of them. I learn that this custom is from southern China, whereas in northern China they will have soup dumplings instead.

When i was young, i looked forward to the once in a year opportunity to make and eat Mochi ball. My parents did not allow us to have snacks often so Mochi ball in ginger sugar soup was a real treat and we could have as much as we want. When i grew older, mochi ball become a dessert available throughout the year and that took a little bit of the magic away.

Interesting enough, mochi ball is called Shiratama in Japan meaning white ball and is popular as desert toppings during summer time served cold. The almost only occasion where it is served hot is with red bean stew(cooked it before here), usually found in cafe in mountainy area.

Making mochi ball is simply, you need mochi rice flour. Then for each portion of flour add 0.9 portion of water to make a dough. It is recommended to add water bit by bit. Then make the dough into small round balls, size is completely up to personal preference. Boil them in hot water until they float, then chill them in cold water for extra chewiness.

For the soup i choose to sweet rice wine. I got a bottle of fermented sweet rice from the Chinese grocery store a while ago and am excited about it. Nothing more than adding hot water and ginger to it, then the mochi ball goes in.

Having mochi ball was mean to symbolize unity during winter solstice, especially being together with family. Living abroad has made that challenging and things are even harder with Covid. We might be having mochi ball alone this year. But let’s be united at heart, be steadfast through the rest of the year and forward so the next winter solstice, we could be sharing laughs again in each other’s company.

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