A ​Recipe for Home: "Yuanxiao" by Lina Chen ('16)

By: Lina Chen


Yuanxiao has always been an extremely important part of Chinese culture. Traditionally, no matter how far we are from home or how busy we are with work, we have to put aside our work and travel back home to unite with family during each Chinese New Year. For thousands of years, yuanxiao has stood as a symbol for family unity and strength. We eat it on the fifteenth of the first month of our lunar calendar, right before each one of us has to onces again leave the hometown and return to our busy lives. Yuanxiao serves as a reminder of the importance of family, and that wherever we go in the future we should never forget our family.  Whatever difficulties we come across in the future, we will always know that there's a big and supportive family standing behind us regardless of geographical distance, which always feels good to know. Though it is harder for us to have family reunions now because we are worlds apart, we still value this tradition of eating yuanxiao to remind us of the family and culture we love.

Chinese Yuanxiao

Yuanxiao is sticky, sweet and round in shape, symbolizing family unity, completeness and happiness. You can find Yuanxiao in oriental food stores. If you enjoy cooking, here is a recipe of Yuanxiao for you.


500g sticky rice flour

butter 200g

black sesame powder 200g

sugar 250g

1 tsp wine


1. Mix the butter with sesame powder, sugar and wine together (need to heat a little bit, and make small balls about 10g each)

2. Take 1/2 cup of sticky rice flour. Add water into the flour and make a flatten dough.

3. Cook it in boiled water and take out until done, let it cool down. Then put it in the rest of the sticky rice flour, add water and knead until the dough is smooth.

4. Make the dough into small pieces about 10g each.

5.  Make it like a ball using hands first and then make a hole in the ball like a snail.

6. Put the sesame ball into it and close it up.

7. Cook them in boiled water, make sure to keep stirring in one direction while cooking. When they float on the water, continue to boil for about one minute using less heat.