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The kind of chinese rice dumpling (chang)

Updated on October 31, 2012

Chinese Rice Dumplings

The kind of chinese rice dumpling

Every year, rice dumpling festival or Duan Wu festival falls on the 5th day of the 5th month on the lunar calendar (This year falls on 23 June 2012). Almost all the Chinese will celebrate this festival. Basically, you can make or buy some rice dumplings then exchange with your relatives or friends. Normally, 2 weeks before the festival, you can see the rice dumplings sold in hawker centre, wet market and also a food court in shopping malls. The rice dumpling was not advisable for kids or senior citizens because it is very hard to digest as rice dumplings were made from glutinous rice.

Making rice dumpling

The skill in making rice dumpling is the most important part to have a delicious rice dumpling. Basically, wrapping process will need a lot of work. 1st layer, we must put some pre- fried glutinous rice into the bamboo leaves (cone shaped). 2nd layer, we must stuff all ingredients and covered with glutinous rice. The next step is to ensure the dumpling tight grip when fold in the bamboo leaves, then securing it with a string. This step is to prevent the ingredients spilling out during boiling process. We can freeze up the rice dumplings for a few months. We just steam the rice dumpling when feel hungry. Tips… Not advise to heat in microwave oven to prevent it to dry up.

Chinese rice dumplings, which come in a variety of flavor and aroma combinations. Known as bak chang (hokkien), chung (cantonese), or zongzi (mandarin), the glutinous rice dumplings are wrapped in dried bamboo leaves and have basic savory fillings of glutinous rice, braised meat with dried mushroom, 5 spice powder, mung beans and Chinese chestnut. For homemade version, additional ingredients will add in, like scallops, salted egg yolk and dried prawns. There also have plain versions, called “kan sui chung”, which are made using alkaline water and are usually eaten dipped in sugar or palm sugar syrup. Some alkaline dumplings may also have sweet fillings of yellow beans or red beans.
The basic ingredients used in making chinese rice dumplings are similar, there is great variation in the fillings among the various chinese dialectal groups. The most popular and tastiest is the hokkien dumpling known as “kiam bak chang” or “salty pork dumpling”, a parcel filled with chunk of belly pork, shiitake mushroom, chestnuts, salted duck egg yolks and dried shrimps. The hokkien chang gets its main flavoring from soy sauce, which also stains the rice so that it has a brownish color.
The cantonese version has similar filling ingredients and mung beans are added to the Cantonese chung. It’s only lightly flavored with soy sauce so the taste is more subtle, with the flavor of the leaf wrapper, it will have more pronounced. The Hainanese wraps their dumplings in banana leaves in rectangular parcel and calls them “chim kau tarng” or pillow dumplings. The tradition of using banana leaf instead of bamboo leaf can be traced back to the tropical vegetation on Hainan island in southern China where the banana plant grows in abundance.
The Peranakan (Nyonya) community makes dumplings which have a rather sweet taste and fondly refers to them in Hokkien as “pua kiam tee chang” or “salty sweet dumplings”. The filling is strongly spiced with ground coriander seeds and the less common cekur ginger lending its distinctive taste. The meat is diced very small and candied winter melon provides bursts of sweetness. A small piece of pandan leaf is also used to line the bamboo leaves and this adds a vanilla-like fragrance to the dumpling while a shock of indigo blue colored rice gives the nyonya chang its distinctive look.
Lotus leaves are also commonly used as wrappers. Due to the leaves are wider, dumplings wrapped in lotus leaves can provide a sizeable meal for small eaters. When steamed, the lotus leaf fragrance to the rice.

Happy Duan Wu festival!


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    • lhchan profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Insightful Tiger, thanks for visiting. More rice dumplings recipes can find in my website.

    • Insightful Tiger profile image

      Insightful Tiger 

      5 years ago

      I want to try your recipe too! I love these dumplings:)

    • lhchan profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      No problem, I will post my secret home made rice dumpling recipe very soon.

    • snlee profile image


      7 years ago from Asia Pacific Regions

      any dumplings for me?


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