This has been one of the coldest and wettest winters in LA history.

Winter solstice was the on the 21st and because we don’t have Stonehenge or hippies in China, it’s Chinese tradition to celebrate the first day of winter by making and eating soup dumplings called “tang yurn” (which literally translates into “soup balls”).

They are nothing of the Shanghainese xiao long bao dumpling variety. It’s a very basic food made of rice flour and water, which is why even the poorest of people in China (or at least in Canton) will eat this on the coldest of nights. My dad said back in his village in China, daikon was the only other thing they had to put in the soup.

But because of the American dream, our family’s version has more elaborate fixings. The basic broth is cooked with pork bones and scallops. We eventually throw in daikon, Chinese sausage, napa cabbage and slices of flank steak. Everything is sliced paper thin.

Then there are the toppings: dried and fresh orange rind, cilantro, scallions and raw daikon.

My bowl is usually filled with everything but tang yurn. It’s a bit too doughy for me and eating four of them is enough. A steaming, hot bowl of soup on a cold winters night is all I need.

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