Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan)
October 05th, 2011 118 Comments

Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan)

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Chinese Recipe: Black Sesame Dumplings (Tang Yuan/芝蔴汤圆)


8 oz. glutinous rice (sticky rice) flour
180 ml water (3/4 cup water)
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter (1/4 cup or 4 tablespoons)

Ginger Syrup (姜茶):

5 cups water (reduced to 4 cups after boiling)
1 cup sugar
4 oz. old ginger (skin peeled and then lightly pounded with the flat side of a cleaver)
1/2 teaspoon sweet osmanthus (optional)
2 screwpine leaves or pandan leaves (tie them into a knot, optional)


Lightly toast the black sesame seeds over medium fire until you smell the aroma of the black sesame seeds. Please take note that the sesame seeds will start popping when they are heated, so use your lid to cover. Don’t burn the black sesame seeds; transfer them out and let cool as soon as they smell aromatic.

Use a mini food processor to grind the black sesame seeds until they become fine. Transfer the ground black sesame into a wok, add sugar and butter and stir well to form a thick paste. If they are too dry, add more butter. Dish out and let cool in the fridge. (This will make the filling easier.)

In a big bowl, mix the glutinous rice flour with water until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands. Divide it equally into 16-20 balls (depends how you like the size, the bigger the size, the easier it is to do the filling). Flatten each ball in your palm, and then use a pair of chopsticks to pick up some black sesame paste and lay it in the middle of the flatten ball. Fold the edge to seal the dumpling. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, very gently and delicately. Set aside.

Prepare the ginger syrup by boiling the water. Add the ginger and screwpine/pandan leaves (optional) into the water and boil for 10-15 minutes with medium heat. Add sugar and sweet osmanthus and boil for another 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and reduce to about 4 cups of water. Add more sugar to taste if you like.

Heat up another pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, transfer them out and into the ginger syrup. Turn off heat and serve the black sesame dumplings in a bowl immediately.

Cook’s Notes:
  1. Traditionally, black sesame paste is made with–yes, you guess it right–pork lard. Pork lard makes the black sesame paste extra silky, smooth, and richer in flavor. Feel free to use lard as you wish, but I chose butter as a substitute.
  2. Don’t be too greedy with the black sesame paste. Use moderate amount for your dumplings or else the dumplings might “burst” when you roll them into balls. They might also “burst” during boiling.
  3. You want to boil the dumplings separately so the ginger syrup doesn’t get cloudy. In case some of your black sesame dumplings burst, you will not ruin the ginger syrup.
  4. If you wish to have the black sesame dumplings without the ginger syrup, just boil them in the hot boiling water and serve your dumplings with that hot water. Eat only the dumplings, but not the hot water.

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118 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Fern says:

    These are my absolute favourite! Are the uncooked ones suitable for freezing?

  2. Dror says:

    amazing! never made something like this before.

  3. Clarissa says:

    I LOVE tang yuan, especially the black sesame ones, but I always buy them frozen. I may have to try this recipe for the holidays, thanks for sharing!

  4. Yum… my favorite! I have to start making these on my own. Bummer about Alvin. Saw the jpgs. Straight out plagarism. Moving forward, let’s chalk it up to that old familiar saying, “Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery,” although this situation is quite different. That said… you have the delicious original and I need to try out this RECIPE!!! xo

  5. SparklingRachel says:

    omg…I was just craving this because it has been so cold and rainy lately. Thank you!!!!

  6. Trish C. says:

    I can’t wait to try this out! Previous recipes I’ve seen use premade sesame seed paste, but this “from scratch” recipe definitely looks manageable.

  7. Nurm says:

    So sorry to hear about someone else taking this recipe from you without giving you credit. WRT tang yuan, I decided 4 years ago that I wouldn’t make anything containing mochi flour, cos it is just sticky and messy, but I am tempted to give mochi flour a fair go…

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  9. mmm this was one of my favorite things to eat growing up! i loved it when my mom made it :) can’t wait to try this for myself!! <3

  10. vivienne g. says:

    Am making it right now , and it already smells so good. Can’t wait to make the rice flour. Was wondering if I was to use the red bean paste filling, any tips on the fillings? Can the uncooked ones be frozen? Thanking you in advance

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  12. jojo says:

    hi, i want to make this dumpling this weekend, but not sure if I can make it a night in advance (use it for the following afternoon). Please advise. Thank you so much in advance.

  13. Elaine says:

    I tried this recipe,but after it has been folded into the gluttonous rice, the sesame filling came out hard or how should say it…not watery or pasty, and chewy.yes, the sesame paste is chewy.can u hel me out here.what did I do wrong.

  14. jess says:

    Can I use peanut butter instead of the unsalted butter? If so how much do you think I should use? Thanks!!!

  15. your recipes are sooo helpful! have you ever tried a combo of sticky rice flour and rice flour- for these? another web blog, of the fatty reader suggested that-

    Glutinous Rice Balls/Tangyuan (湯圓)

    1/2 cup sweet rice flour + 1/2 cup regular rice flour
    Hot water
    1 tbsp granulated sugar (optional)

    filling- black sesame powder plus maple syrup
    or sweetened black bean paste
    Bring a pot of water to a boil. Combine the sweet rice flour, rice flour, and sugar in a bowl. Add hot water a tablespoon at a time, mixing with chopsticks, until the dough is not sticky but also not dry. It should be moist to the touch, without being sticky. If you accidentally add too much water, just add more of the rice flour and sweet rice flour, in equal parts.

  16. Tina says:

    Hi there!

    when I asked my mom if we had rice flour in the house she said yes, but that there are two types. Which one would I need if I’m buying it at the store? Neither of the packages differentiate between the different kinds of rice flour, so if you could make any clarifications on this detail that would be greatly appreciated!

  17. Tina says:

    Hi Bee!
    One last question, would you ever recommend black sesame powder as a substitute for toasting then grinding the seeds if in a hurry/time crunch or just out of pure convenience?

  18. laura2 says:

    I made these yesterday and they were delicious! I have leftover black sesame filling. Can I use the filling to make black sesame soup? Any ideas? Do I just add water? Thanks!

  19. Serenity says:

    Hi Bee,,
    Your recipe has 8 oz. glutinous rice flour. do u mean 8oz in volume (same as 1 cup) or in weight?

  20. Jessica says:

    how much does this recipe yield?

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