Occasion / RECIPES

Dumpling with Red Bean Paste

As we know Tang Yuan is a delightful dessert that is served as part of the family reunion meal. With an interesting texture and a super tasty flavour, Tang Yuan is one of our favourite Chinese sweet treats and one we cook all year-round as dessert for dinner parties.

Tang Yuan (汤圆) is kind of like round dumplings. The dough is made of glutinous rice flour and water, and the filling usually consists of groundnut, sugar and lard. It’s pure joy to eat freshly cooked Tang Yuan. After you bite through the slippery, chewy wrapper, the sweet, and runny filling slowly fills your mouth. Absolutely delectable!

Usually, we serve it in a rock sugar soup. However, to make this dessert more sophisticated and tastier, this time we replace it with red bean paste soup.

Preparation for red bean

  • Rinse the red beans with water at least twice to remove the impurities and dirt.
  • Transfer the red beans into a freezer-safe container, and add sufficient water just enough to submerge all the red beans. This method is not considered traditional but is incredibly useful, as it can reduce the cooking time substantially to achieve a homogenous texture.
  • Let the red beans soaked in the water for a few hours so that they are adequately hydrated. Three to four hours are sufficient, but overnight is even better. 

Simmer the red beans over medium heat

We suggest using a large pot with a thick bottom to cook the red bean soup. First, the soup can spill off from the pot easily, and by using a large pot will keep the kitchen clean. Secondly, the beans can burn quickly during cooking. You can avoid this from happening by using a large pot with a thick bottom and with high heat capacity, which can keep the soup at a constant boil with minimum heat. 

  • Transfer the red beans into a pot. Add the pandan leaves and heat it over low heat, before covering and continue boiling over medium heat for an hour.
  • We normally used two to three pieces of pandan leaves for 350g of red beans. It is optional, just like the use of vanilla in western desserts. Therefore, the quantity is entirely up to you. 
  • After 1 hour, the colour of the soup has changed to maroon, which indicates the red beans have started to disintegrate. The beans now look soft and broken down. 

Mashed the red bean

There are a few ways you can proceed from this point. 

  • The first method is to use an immersion blender to blend the beans until there are broken up.
  • The second method is to fish out the beans and mashed them manually and subsequently returned to the pot.

Either way will achieve the same purpose. The first method is our favourite method, however manually works fine too, but you need to remove the panda leave first, then let it pass through a wire mesh strainer. Mash about 80% of the beans, and keep the other 20% intact, so that there are still some whole beans in the soup.

Sweeten with Rock Sugar

  • Add the rock sugar plus a little bit of salt to balance the sweetness. It is a common practice to add sugar at this stage. It is a strange phenomenon that the red beans will take a longer time to soften if you add the sugar at the earlier. Sweetness is a personal preference, so you can adjust according to your desire. 
  • At this point, the red beans should have disintegrated further to form a homogeneous suspension and thicken considerably. 
  • After adding the sugar and salt, do not cover the pot anymore as you need to stir it constantly to avoid it from burning. Simmer over low heat for a further 30 minutes.
  • Now it comes to the final step. Turn off the heat and put on the lid. Let it sit for 30 minutes to allow the red beans to disintegrate further. (If you want it thicker.) 

Add in your favourite tang yuan and enjoy it! Click here for a detailed explanation for making tang yuan. Give it a try and let me know of the outcome by leaving your comment below. It does not take you long before you can enjoy a bowl of heartwarming traditional Cantonese dessert at home.

xoxo, Joe

Dumpling with Red Bean Paste



Prep time


Cooking time





A sweet, nutty, runny filling sealed with a slippery, chewy wrapper, Tang Yuan (Chinese glutinous rice balls) is a delectable dessert not to miss. 


  • 250 g red beans

  • 1 1/2 litres water

  • 80-100g rock suger

  • 2-3 pandan leaves, knotted

  • 50 g glutinous rice flour

  • 60-75ml water


  • Soak the red bean in water for 2–3 hours.
  • Wash, drain and pour into a pot. Add 1.5l of water to the red bean and bring to the boil. Add the pandan leaves. Once boiling, reduce to low heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • After 2 hours, remove the pandan leaves. Add the rock sugar gradually, and stir to dissolve. Taste, and sweeten with more rock sugar if necessary. Let it continue to simmer for an hour.
  • Make the tang yuan dough. Sift the glutinous rice flour into a bowl. Gradually add water to form a stiff dough. Place dough on board and knead well for 3-4 minutes. Roll firmly into the size of a marble ball. (Add 50g of sweet potato paste to the dough for yellow tang yuan.)
  • Drop the balls into the red bean syrup, and cook until they float to the surface. Serve each bowl of hot red bean soup with 3 tang yuans.

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