Bak Chang (Rice Dumpling) - Grandma's Recipe


Rice Dumpling Festival, or traditionally known as Duan Wu Jie in mandarin, is celebrated annually on the 5th day of the 5th month in accordance to the Chinese lunar calender.

Which fell on 6 June this year. Its over already. However there's no reason for panic, bak chang used to be available only during the rice dumpling festival period, but ever since it is commercialized, bak chang are now available all year round. You just need to keep your eyes peeled to spot a store near you selling them and you can get a taste of them, or do it the more satisfying way (harder too), make them yourself.


The history of Du Wu Jie, this is one of the moments where reading my chinese textbook passages helps other than studying for spelling tests, originates a Chinese scholar named Qu Yuan.

Legend has it that during the Warring States Period in China, another country tried to take over Qu Yuan's country - state of Chu - the enemy poisoned the emperor's mind and Qu Yuan being a wise adviser to the emperor was deemed as traitor. Thus, leading to Qu Yuan being sent to exile and being a very patriotic citizen of his state, he couldn't bear seeing his country falling into the hands of the enemy thus he jumped into the river. Upon learning of his death in the river, villagers came up with the idea of wrapping rice dumplings then throwing them in the river in a bid to save his body from being eaten by the fishes in the river. Thereafter, the Rice Dumpling Festival is born.


I love chinese festivals. They always seemingly come paired with some sort of food meant for that specific festival. This rice dumpling that my grandma makes is the nyonya type I think, since its fillings contains pork and is sweet. Personally I feel putting more fillings into each dumpling would certain make one very happy becuase the fillings are so good that I believe they can make up a dish on their own!

But its true, I should learn to be thankful that my grandma makes them and is willing to show me a live demo of it. My grandma had a by-pass a few years back so she isn't as strong as she was before anymore. She stopped wrapping bak changs 2 years back I think so I haven't had hers for awhile already, and there was actually no plans to wrap bak changs this year too till my request to learn, which my grandma swiftly acceded to. 'Thank you grandma!'

*Feel free to add in more ingredients that you like and test them out. I'm thinking chestnuts, peanuts and etc.

Grandma's Bak Chang

1kg pork thigh meat
300g chinese mushrooms, pre soaked then snipped into halves with stock removed.
6 shallots, sliced and divided equally in 2 bowls
2kg glutinous rice
100g candied winter melon, chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp five spice powder
pinch of pepper
150g of dried scallops, contained in a small pot.
30 dried bamboo leaves, soaked until soft and wiped dry
1-2 bundle hemp strings, soaked

For the glutinous rice:

1. Wash rice and strain.
2. Brown 1 bowl of shallots in oil till their aroma is liberated. Scoop up half of the shallots, leaving the oil and the remaining shallots in the pan. Note: don't throw away, sprinkle them on your dishes or porridge.
3. Fry the rice in the pan till its half cooked. Put the half cooked rice in a big bowl and set aside.

For the fillings:

1. Fry 1 bowl of shallots till their amora is liberated. Add in the mushrooms and continue frying.
2. Add in pork after a minute or so, followed by the candied winter melon.
3. Before the pork is done, add in soy sauce, five spice powder and pepper to taste. *Add in more seasoning based on personal preferences. Scoop up into a small pot.

Boil wrapped dumplings for an hour or so then you're done.

Makes around 20 dumplings

Wrapped and assembling of the dumpling will be explained by the following video:


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