The last time I shared a kitchen with my family in Malaysia was on the night before my little brother's wedding, making tang yuan with aunts, uncles, and cousins I had lost touch with for many years.
Tang yuan are sticky balls made of glutinous rice flour that sometimes have a sweet peanut, black sesame seed or red bean filling, served in a spicy ginger soup. These dumplings are usually made during the Winter Solstice festival (happening soon) or on the occasion of a family reunion.
In Chinese tradition, the roundness and stickiness of the balls symbolize harmony and unity within the family. Rarely do we make tang yuan for no special reason, and they are almost always done around a table full of family members involved in various stages of the cooking process. Kneading, the shaping of balls, boiling and scooping, talking loudly, and laughing are all part of the ritual.
That night, we were honoring the union of two people, and it was one of the most joyous tang yuan making sessions I've ever had in my life.