'Chang' Festival (Boiled Rice Dumpling)
I guess, better late then never since the 'Chung' or 'Chang' festival was celebrated end of last month. In China, it's a summer festival celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month on the chinese calendar. I for one have never attempted to make 'Chang' (rice dumpling) from scratch before. Nevertheless, that does not stop me for getting a dose of all the dumplings when it comes to this time of the year. When I was about nine or ten years old, my Mom used to make them and she would teach us how to wrap and tie them. I was so incompetent until I had to sit on the floor with the main tie straw hooked onto the kitchen cabinet door and used my feet to balance the whole process. Don't remember how exactly but thinking back really got me wondering. The dumplings I wrapped always turned out looking pretty flat, nothing like the real thing but I was so proud of it cos I did it myself.
My mother's favourites are the sweet and salty filling dumpling also known as the "puah kiam ti chang' and the yellow split peas dumpling. The sweet and salty dumpling is actually a nyonya version of the traditional 'bak chang' salty meat dumpling. The rice in this dumpling is slightly colored blue with the dye from the butterfly pea flower which makes it quite exotic. As for me, I love the 'kee chang' (alkaline rice dumpling) which looks semi-transparent and is eaten with gula melaka (palm sugar syrup). Absolutely delicious! I just can't resist the texture and the feel of it...so bouncy, chewy and sweet. (photo below)
I have a recipe here share by an elderly lady which I am going to try one day, maybe you guys can try it first and let me know.
20 fresh young bamboo leaves (washed and soaked overnight)
200 gm glutinous rice (washed in several changes of water until water runs clear, soaked overnight and drained)
1/4 tsp alkaline water
1 tsp peanut oil
a pinch of boric powder (pang sar)
some hemp strings or tie straws
Stir peanut oil and alkaline water into the glutinous rice and leave aside for 1 hour.
Overlap 2 pieces of bamboo leaves making a cone and fill it 3/4 full with glutinous rice. Fold the extended ends of the bamboo leaves over the rice and try folding it into a pyramid shape. Tie with straws. (easier said then done!)
Place dumplings into plenty of hot boiling water with a pinch of boric powder and boil for approx. 4 hours over medium fire. The boric acid in the boiling water will prevent the bamboo leaves from sticking to the dumplings when cooked and also gives the dumplings a shiny coat.
Some people like it with some sweet red beans in the centre of the dumpling. Cook some red beans in water and sieve so that all the skin is removed. Add sugar and cook till creamy and cool. Make into small balls and cover in the fridge. When wrapping the dumpling, just pop the red bean ball into the centre of the rice and wrap like usual.
Leave dumpling to cool and serve with palm sugar syrup.
Eventhough I attempted none of it this year, I hope to make it one of my projects to make 'chang' before the next dumpling festival begins next year.
Another type of dumpling is the one with fatty meat, salted eggs yoke and chestnut known as salty meat dumpling 'kiam bak chang'. Let me try the recipes first then I shall post them later since I prefer to post tried and tested ones! (more meaningful that way)