Posted by: sea2stars | March 25, 2010

Sticky Rice Balls

Lantern festival is a festival that takes place a few weeks after Chinese New Year. For the opening of Lantern Festival it is tradition to get together and make sticky rice balls and we were invited to join in on the festivities. We arrived at 9am to a tent in the street and a truck designed for karaoke. Tables were set out with all the products for making the rice balls. To start things off their were a few speeches, including an impromptu one by our ring leader, Theresa. We also had to have a group picture before starting and us foreigners were asked to sit down because we were too tall and hiding all the short ladies behind us.

Each of us were asked to join a different table to make the rice balls. Of course they didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Chinese so communication was all in action. They first showed me how to role the balls, then we had to flatten them out so that we could put in the filling and then role them again to make sure the filling wouldn’t fall out. We had three different fillings, poppy seed, penutbutter, and red beans. Rolling rice balls was like playing with dried out oobleck. If you kept it in your hands for too long it got sticky and melty but not long enough and it was too cool and would crack. It also drove me nuts that all the rice balls were of different sizes. This may be due to the years of Christmas cooking making, where under the watchful eye of my grandmother we were instructed to roll the date balls and snowdrops with amazing precision. Because I was unable to ask what size they should really be I finally just chose a size that suited me and made my rice balls to that standard.

Of course while rolling our sticky rice balls we had entertainment in the form of KTV, also know as karaoke. Just barely awake at 9:30am I found myself singing “Take Me Home Country Road” from the back of a truck, under a tent, in the middle of the road, and watched as they wheel grandma out in front of us for a picture. It was hard not to laugh at the whole situation. It was even harder to sing as we watched asian women in bikinis on beaches scroll across our screen as we sang about the dixie land.

After a little while we had an encore performance and sang “Hey Jude.” I didn’t know this song as well as the first song but as the lyrics popped up “Hey Jude, don’t make your bed” I was pretty sure that was wrong. But just like reading from a prompter we all sang it that way anyhow. All I can say is that the Taiwanese love their KTV. It was a lot of fun to see so many of them participate with enthusiasm that would be mocked in the US but was praised and adored here.

It was amazing how quickly the time actually passed and before I knew it we got to watch them cook the sticky rice balls. They first boil the balls until they float. They are then transfered into another boiling broth that was sweet and contains red beans. After they boiled in that pot for a while it was time to serve them up into a dessert the Taiwanese think is 很好吃 delicious. It was actually not a bad dessert. The rice balls were kind of sweet and very chewy. Their is nothing I can think of that I can compare them to but the chewy texture of foods is very common here and I’m finally starting to get use to it.



  1. yummmm……………sticky rice balls and red beans…………

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