Traditional Cantonese Winter Solstice Meal

One of my passions is to explore traditional Chinese food, but along with this comes a celebration of the traditions for which the food is served. A good example of this is Rice Ball (Tang Yuan) Soup served at the winter solstice on a holiday that is widely celebrated in southern China, but in the United States it seems to be more for nostalgia and for enjoying a traditional soup.

Rice ball soup is a traditional dish served at the winter solstice

Traditional Cantonese “Dong Chi” (winter coming) soup

The “Winter Coming” (Dong Chi) soup is eaten for the family meal at either lunch or dinner on the winter solstice. The rice balls represent good luck, long life, and happiness of the family. Other ingredients include some or all of the following: dried shrimp, sausage, beef, mushrooms, and vegetables (mainly cabbage). The soup has a lime flavored broth. In terms of flavor I think the best part is the Chinese sausage (lap cheong). Some people serve Hoisin sauce on the side, though, that can be used as a dip for the rice balls.

Farmers use this day on the calendar as a reminder to plant wheat (which will be ready for harvest at the Chinese New Year). This is not a big holiday compared to some others, but families make a good effort to prepare the traditional food nonetheless. I have been fortunate enough to have good friends who prepare this and other traditional dishes for me. Some of them used to live in Los Angeles, and they say that most or all of the Cantonese holiday dishes are available in restaurants there.

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