tang yuanThe Chinese celebration of the Winter Solstice, Dong Zhi (Guo Dong in Cantonese), is almost as major a holiday as the Chinese New Year. Scholars believe that the Chinese have been celebrating Dong Zhi for about 2000 years. This year Dong Zhi occurred on December 21st. The holiday centers around honoring ancestors and celebrating the unity of the family. Traditionally, this was the time of year that farmers returned from the harvest after a separation from their families of many months.

For Dong Zhi celebrations, people in Northen China tend to eat wonton soup. Wontons are not a gluten-free food, so go here for a quick easy GF version of the wonton wrapper. For a great website on how to make the perfect won ton soup, go to Anatomy of a wonton soup recipe. Make sure all your meats, sauces, oils, starches, and broths are gluten-free (I used Triumph Dining’s new Grocery Guide).

Meanwhile, people in Southern China tend to make tang yuan, glutinous rice balls, which sound scary but are actually harmless and sweet. Try a basic recipe or experiment with stuffed tang yuan variations. When I lived in Japan tang yuan (called mochi in Japanese) with sweet red bean soup was a very popular winter dish, so feel free to try out recipes from Asian countries with cuisine influenced by China.