By Xinyi Li, EDITOR
More than 70 years ago, there was a stall standing at downtown Chongqing. It served traditional Chongqing-style tangyuan, traditional sweet dumplings for the Spring Festival. Customers called the snack “the big tangyuan in that alley.” After four generations of inheritance, the old brand restarted business at Shancheng Alley recently.
Gong Yilin, the shop owner, is a versatile post-90s. She is in the Top 10 of China·Miss Chongqing Pageant and the captain of an ice hockey amateur team. Moreover, she has passed the grade nine examination of the erhu, a two-stringed bowed musical instrument in China...However, now she chooses to stick to her family’s old crafts.
The Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month is approaching. On this day, tangyuan is a must-eat festival food for Chinese families. With this story of inheritance, let’s have Gong Yilin to share her recipe of tangyuan for family enjoyment. We will awake your memory of Chongqing’s traditional snacks.
According to Gong Yilin, there are four kinds of tangyuan in the shop, including old-style ones and innovative ones. The old-style type is the recommendation. Four ping-pong-ball-sized tangyuan in a bowl make a serving with a price of RMB 12.
Such sweet dumplings are also in Gong Yilin’s childhood memory. Therefore, she decided to settle down to be a craftsman and inherited the old crafts of her family.
In her recipe, there are about 10 ingredients for the filling, including peanuts, black sesame, and lard. Craftsmen will mash and stir-fry all the ingredients manually. And they will also weigh them and wrap them in wrappers in proportions.
That is not enough for the filling. “If the ingredients include small peanuts, then tangyuan will be more delicious,” Gong Yulin said. She remembered that she went to buy this kind of peanuts with her grandmother when she was little. Thus, she contacted the farmers in Shizhu County and asked them to plant the small peanuts for her. As for lard, she selects from black pigs bred in Fuling. In short, she has tried her best to follow the traditional recipe.
In addition to old-style tangyuan, there are also innovative ones in her shop. They are in Gong Yilin’s style. One is tangyuan with matcha, the other is tangyuan with rose. She got both of the inspirations when traveling around and learning how to make desserts. Gong Yilin said that she wanted to inherit the crafts passing down for generations. Then, she will make some innovations. For example, she has considered launching ice tangyuan in summer. However, currently, she will still adhere to traditional crafts instead of going too far.
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