Friday, May 27, 2011

Glutinous Rice Dumplings - Hokkien,Nyonya, 粽子

I have been eating (Eating?!! Self-delusion!!! "Feasting" to be exact) Rice Dumplings (Zongzi, 粽子) for the past three days. I was in Singapore during the last two weeks of May - catching the early wave of rice dumplings before the actual Duanwu Festival (端午节, 6 June 2011) which usually see rice dumplings as the celebratory centrestage festival food. Clear-minded, rice dumplings should be one of the last few foods to eat during my stay. Why?

Left: Hokkien Bak Chang; right: Nyonya Chinese Dumpling

(1) The lingering heatwave in Singapore and "heaty" glutinous rice used for rice dumplings = more "heat" in the body. Not good.
(2) Too much glutinous rice tend to cause stomach bloatedness. Not good.
(3) I'm not a big fan of rice dumplings and I don't miss it. (In California, rice dumplings are also usually available in the Asian grocery stores - 99Ranch, with flavors such as red bean filling - sweet version; and salted eggs with meat - savory version during the same festival)

However, it is uncommon to find the Nanyang (Singapore/Malaysian) variety, flavors and classics such as the Hokkien Bak Chang and Nyonya Chinese Dumpling.

So I have given in.

This once-a-year festival has seen experimental varieties of rice dumplings from wild morel mushrooms and truffles as the dumpling fillings to using mixed varietal rice grains as the "glutinous rice base".

But I have only given in to the traditional classics - Hokkien Bak Chang and Nyonya Chinese Dumpling.

Hokkien Bak Chang - savory fillings such as chunks of pork (meat), dried shrimps, shitake mushrooms, chestnuts etc. within glutinous rice base seasoned with dark soy sauce (these dumplings are therefore dark brown). My favorite ingredient is always the CHESTNUT!

Nyonya Chinese Dumplings

Nyonya Chinese Dumplings - savory fillings with tinier pieces of meat (ground pork), balanced by sweet overtones from the candied winter melon, within a non-soy-sauce-seasoned glutinous rice base (these dumpling are therefore usually light brown/beige).

What is your favorite rice dumpling?

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