Rice dumplings are eaten by Chinese on the 5th day of the 5th lunar calendar to commemorate the death of statesman-poet Chu Yuan who committed suicide about 2500 years ago. Chu Yuan was a senior government officer during the Zhou Dynasty before he was framed by an evildoer and exiled by the King. His unsuccessful attempts to convince the King of the kingdom's much needed reforms led to his suicide by jumping into the river. People rowed boats to seek for his body in the river and threw rice-filled bamboos into the river in the hope that the fishes would eat the rice instead of Chu Yuan's body.
Today, dragon boat racing and the eating of rice dumplings [they are now wrapped in bamboo leaves instead of being stuffed in the bamboo shoots] form the The Dragon Boat Festival, held annually in commemoration of Chu Yuan.
Chinese people from different dialects have their own unique version of rice dumplings, most probably influenced by the differences in background, and hence the taste.
These are the various version of rice dumplings that I have made during this festival.
What You Should Know About
- Older rice grains have a springy bite when cooked whilst fresher ones cook to a softer and mushier finish. Generally, people prefer a more springy bite.
- When wrapping the dumpling, don't pack it too full or the filling may not be cooked through in the stated time. For the same reason, don't bind the string too tightly around the dumpling - leave room for it to expand.
- For perfectly cooked dumplings, always ensure that they are entirely submerged in the water during cooking. Have boiling water ready to top up the pot should the water level drop enough to reveal the tips of the dumplings. However, it is best to fill the pot with ample water from the start of cooking to prevent hasty additions of water in the midst of cooking.
Wrapping Chang - Step By Step and Boiling Chang
- Take 2 pieces of bamboo leaf and align them, one on top of the other. Holding them with one long side facing you, fold both ends away from you, around and upward, such that the centre of the long side nearest to you becomes the point of a cone, whose back walls are formed by the overlapping ends.
- Spoon a tablespoon of rice into the cone, then place a chestnut, some pork, a mushroom and a salted egg yolk [if using] on top.
- Cover the filling with 2 tablespoons of rice. Make sure the dumpling doesn't feel too full.
- Fold over the ends of the leaves which are protruding from the back of the cone [the cone's tip is pointing towards the right]....and wrap them round the side.
- Bind the dumpling with a string by simply looping it round the bak chang twice and securing with a knot.
- Fill a large pot with enough water to fully immerse the dumplings and bring to a fierce boil over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a gentle boil. Continue cooking for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Top up with boiling water if dumplings are not fully immersed in water. You can cook the dumplings from cold water but must not use cold water for topping water level.
ENJOY ALL THE CHANGS YOU CAN THIS
DUAN WU JIE FESTIVAL 2014