When I called home last weekend and spoke to dad, I told him about this experiment. He excitedly told mum and I could hear mum in the background reprimanding dad for lying. I can understand her skepticism really because you see, a long time ago, I, the little one who's always up to some mischief; the grudging, grumpy house elf - swore that I would never cook.
So to attempt this, personally, is no small feat. And I'm also going to show you that if this monkee can do it, so can you.
Ba Chang or Zong zi is a triangular-shaped glutinous rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo leaves and stuffed with varied ingredients. It's also a good thing that this is only made once a year because I can imagine it is quite a pain to do it daily. (I realized, amidst my curses over my messy wrapping, how much I miss my mum.)
Ba Chang - which is translated from the Hokkien dialect as 'meat dumpling' - is a festive food usually serve in mid-June to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. If you can't be bothered to make this and still love to try some, you can usually find them in good old China town.
I should note here that I was not alone in making this. I had two extra pair of hands and I must thank them for being such good kitchen helpers. Because I was tied to stove most of the time, I couldn't be bothered with the photos. Mr. G and cheeky were brilliant. Patiently, chopping up the ingredients and documenting the making of ba changs. If I'm not mistaken, the video Mr. G is working on will soon be done. So thanks guys, for all your hard work. :)
Now, for the recipe:
Ba Chang (makes about 20 - 22)
1kg glutinous rice
Bamboo leaves and hem/ raffia string for wrapping
- 400g belly pork or de-boned chicken meat
- 150g dried mushrooms,
- 200g dried chestnuts
- 10 salted egg yolks
- 100g dried prawns - soak in warm water, remove the impurities then chop into small pieces.
- 100g split green peas
- Heat a large pot of water. When water starts to boil, place bamboo leaves and hemp strings in. Make sure bamboo leaves and strings are fully immersed in water. Continue boiling for 10 minutes. Turn fire off and let bamboo leaves and strings in water overnight. Remove leaves and strings from water before you need to use them.
- Soak glutinous rice, beans and dried chestnuts overnight.
- Marinate pork overnight with 2 tsp of five spice powder, 2 tbsp of vegetable oil, 1 tbsp of light soy sauce, 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp rice wine, pepper
- Dried shrimps and chinese mushrooms can be soaked the next day as they turn soft relatively fast.
- Heat oil, saute shallots and garlic until fragrant
- Add pork. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add dried shrimps, chestnuts, mushrooms. Stir well and set aside.
- Heat oil, saute shallots and garlic until fragrant.
- Add rice, stir fry for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Add 1 tbsp five spice powder, 1 tbsp dark soya sauce, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. (If you feel that it needs more seasoning, go with your gut instincts)
- Stir thoroughly till heated through. Set aside.
- Take two bamboo leaves, make them overlap slightly and fold into a cone.
- Put 1 tbsp rice into the funnel base.
- Add 1 tbsp filling and a piece of salted egg yolk.
- Add beans in.
- Cover with some more rice.
- Fold leaves over rice to form a triangular prism.
- Tie with hem/raffia string.
- Boil a large pot of water and add 2-3 tsp sea salt.
- Drop the bundles of dumplings in and boil for 1 1/2 - 2 hours over medium-slow fire.
- Top constantly with boiling water to maintain level of water at all times.
- When cooked, remove the dumplings and hang to dry.
Dumplings can be stored in freezer for at least 1 month. Steam or microwave dumplings before serving.