k3llino

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Kellino’s Way of Bak Chang

In Foodies on August 2, 2010 at 11:34 am

I’ve finally got it right. Thanks to Aunt Jenny and Joyce-che for teaching me how to make / wrap Bak Chang =) It is better known as rice dumpling or Chinese tamales or in Chinese pin-yin it is called Zongzi and it is even known as Chimaki by Japanese =)

I have successfully wrapped eleven to twelve dumplings … Aunt Jenny said for a first timer like me, I’m considered OK (good) =D

Just when you thought it’s a damn easy job, think again.

Because you are wrong.

I thought the same as you, I mean how hard could it be to just wrap the glutinous rice on bamboo or reed leaves like a shape of a Pyramid (even Hexagon or Octagon shapes if you like) and tie it up with raffia string before proceeding to the steaming process …

Well, it actually turns out to be pretty troublesome and one needs some ‘hand skills’ to do it correctly and even perfectly.

There is a certain holding skills and wrapping skills when handling or wrapping a Bak Chang. First, we would have to choose two-pieces of nicely shaped bamboo leaves (for beginner choose the larger ones because Zongzi experts can grab good hold of the smaller sized ones) and line one on top of another. Then, fold them from the middle and twist both ends up to form a cone or triangular pouch (like how we shape the ‘nasi lemak’ packaging with pandan leaves).

Next, fill in the pouch with one to two tablespoons of glutinous rice, and while (still) holding it in a cone shape, top it with a piece of red-cooked pork, mushroom, one (half-piece) salted egg yolk, then about a tablespoon of mung bean and dried shrimps.

Complete the routine with two-three tablespoons glutinous rice to sort-of cover up the fillings. Then, hold the pouch tight and close the leaves (shape it like Pyramid / tetrahedra). This step is pretty important. You would want your Bak Chang to look presentable and in-tetrahedra-shape. Or else, you’ll end up making funny shapes like I did … *pai-seh* It is also one of the crucial steps because with a slip of hand, everything would fall apart and you’d probably need to re-wrap it again.

After that, tie it with the string and make sure the dumpling is securely wrapped and no spill.

The final step would be the ‘cooking’ part. Rice dumplings are often put to boil instead of fry, bake or grill =P It is cook in a large deep pot with boiling water covering up all the dumplings for a good few hours.

When it’s cooked, drain it and serve it hot.

Yummilicious~

The above ‘how-to’ may sound (or look) easy … trust me, it’s a mess if you don’t know the right method to do it.

Since, I’m bragging so much about Bak Chang, here’s a lil something about it.

Bak Chang is traditionally eaten during a special Chinese festival in late May to mid-June every year. It’s skill and recipes are passed down through families and it is also an event where everyone get together to help out. The shape of Bak Chang ranges from being tetrahedral to cylindrical shape. The fillings varies as well; on these particular ones we made, we had Mung beans, red-cooked pork, salted duck eggs, dried shrimps and Chinese black mushrooms.

It is meant to commemorate the death of Qu Yuan (340-278 BC.), a pioneer Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu of ancient China. After his unsuccessful warning to his king and countrymen against expansionism of Qin neighbors to Bai Qi; Qu Yuan drowned himself into the Miluo river after penning the Lament for Ying.  According to the legend, packets of rice dumplings were thrown into the river to prevent fish from attacking the poet’s body.

Since that time, it has been customary on this day to enjoy Zong Zi dumplings as a memorial to the patriotic poet.

I, however, wish that everyday is a Bak Chang day. Then, we can commemorate the death of the notable Chinese poet in BC time and at the same time, get to eat lots and lots of delicious Bak Chang!

=)