As a young child, we always look forward to the Dragon Boat Festival, which is called 端午节 (Duānwǔ Jié) in Mandarin. This festival is also known as Double Fifth Festival as it is held on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. That falls on Thursday the 25th of June in 2020.
Let's watch how the world celebrates the Dragon Boat Festival.
Was it the loud synchronised drumming that mesmerised me or the Nyonya Chang or Peranakan Rice Dumplings we get to eat during the festival, thus the other name, Dumpling Festival.
I think it's the food - hands down! But first, a bit of history.
The legend, superstitions, and traditions of Dragon Boat Festival or Dumpling Festival
Legend has it that the practice of eating chang or 粽子 (Zongzi) as they are known in Chinese, originated from the death of Qu Yuan (c. 340–278 BC), a celebrated poet and minister in the ancient state of Chu, China, during the time of the Warring States period of the Zhou Dynasty.
The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan who was a cadet member of the Chu royal house, serving in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu was banished for opposing the alliance and even accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote many poetries. Twenty-eight years later, Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River.
It is said that the local people, who admired him, raced out in their boats to save him, or at least retrieve his body. This is said to have been the origin of the dragon boat races. When his body could not be found, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan's body. This is said to be the origin of zongzi.
粽子 - variations of Zongzi rice dumplings
In China, the zongzi is made from glutinous rice filled with different ingredients and wrapped in large bamboo leaves before being steamed or boiled. The stuffing ranges from savoury (e.g. waxed sausages, fat cuts of pork, salted duck egg yolks and mushrooms) in the south to sweet (e.g. mung bean paste and red bean paste) in the north.
In Malaysia, the dialect name is "bak chang" and the recipe takes after the Southern-style zongzi as the ancestors of the local Hokkien Chinese hailed from the province of Fujian in South-eastern China. So one can expect mouthwatering bits of pork belly, umami-dense shiitake mushrooms and a rich salted duck egg yolk or two in the bak chang.
The Peranakan^ home cooks of yesteryear have replaced this purely savoury stuffing with a more balanced blend of sweet and salty: minced pork, candied winter melon, mushrooms and rempah (spices — the mix usually a secret recipe depending on the family).
^Peranakan – The Peranakans or Peranakan Chinese are a sub-ethnic group defined by their genealogical descent from the first waves of Chinese settlers in the Malay Peninsula and Indonesian Archipelago.
Even before you cut open your Nyonya chang, it stands out from the more common bak chang by virtue of its bluish colour. – using Butterfly Pea flower as its natural blue colour. Image below shows the Peranakan kueh, called Pulut Tai-tai. Very pretty in Blue Tea colour and served with coconut jam. Pulut Tai tai recipe is on website blog. Both are available for sale at Sweet Rita Nyonya Kueh, Chatswood.
Nonya Zhang Recipe
INGREDIENTS 1.5 Kg glutinous rice, soaked for 4 hours and drained well 500 ml thick coconut milk 1 ½ tsp salt 15 gram Blue Ocean Butterfly Pea Liquid Extract or 1 tsp @my.blue.tea – Butterfly Pea Powder 15 gram Pandan Liquid Extract or 1 spoon @my.blue.tea – Pandan Powder **FILLING A : 5 tbsp oil 150g chopped shallot 50 g chopped garlic 60 g chopped cekur root or sand ginger (scientific name Kaempferia galangal) 2 tbsp ketumbar powder (coriander powder) **B : 8 black mushrooms soaked and cut half 600 gram breast meat, shredded **C : 150g candied winter melon, chopped 100g ground toasted peanut 3 pieces cekur leaf, shreadded **SEASONING : 1 tbsp pepper 1 tsp turmeric powder 1tbsp sugar 1 tsp salt 1 tbsp light soy sauce 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
This is the Peranakan variety of the famous bak chang (literally “meat dumpling” in Hokkien), a sticky rice dumpling traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival (also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. In this recipe, we have added Pandan to make it aromatic.
About 60 pieces chang/dumpling leaves, 30 pieces hemp string, soaked overnight, washed and drained well.
METHOD : (1) Combine soaked glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt. Put into steaming tray and steam for 20 minutes. Remove, mix well and fluff up the rice. Return to heat and continue to steam for another 25 minutes till well cooked. Remove from heat. (2) Separate rice into 2 portions of glutinous rice, each 500 g – Add in Butterfly Pea Powder (or Liquid) and Pandan Powder (or Pandan Liquid) in each part of rice and mix well. Cover the rice and set aside. (3) Heat up and saute filling A till fragrant. Add n filling B and stir-fry till aromatic. Add in seasoning and stir well. Add in filling C, stir well and dish up. (4) Fold 2 pieces chang/dumpling leaves into a cone shape. Spoon ½ tbsp blue glutinous rice and follow by 1 tbsp white glutinous rice. Make a hole in the centre ad stuff in a 1 ½ tbsp filling. Cover the filling with ½ tbsp green glutinous rice. Shape into “chang” dumpling triangle shape and secure with hemp string. Repeat the same method to finish all the ingredients. (5) Steam the Nyonya Chang/Dumpling for 40 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Note : You may substitute Pandan Liquid Extract with Fragrant Pandan Powder – use 1 tablespoon, dilute in warm water and sieve. And if you won’t mind the “spots” from the fibres of Pandan leaves, which we think it look absolutely gorgeous – you have a choice to not sieve. Enjoy!
And we have just launched Pandan Green Tea - comes in 50 grams pack at an introductory price at $9.90.
Read about Pandan Green Tea health benefits here and How to make Pandan Green Tea recipes on our @my.blue.tea Page and on our Instagram.
To help support our customers and community through this time, you may grab @my.blue.teas Superfood Super Powder and Blue Tea directly from our distributors listed on our website. We are also open to talk to you if you would like to distribute our products in your suburb.
http://asiaherbs4u.blogspot.com/2014/10/cekur-kaempferia-galanga.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaempferia_galanga https://www.malaymail.com/news/eat-drink/2016/09/11/malaccan-nyonya-chang-the-taste-of-my-hometown/1200623 https://says.com/my/lifestyle/war-betrayal-suicide-ancient-china-history-bak-chang-s-tragic-origin-story https://www.travelchinaguide.com/essential/holidays/dragon-boat.htm