It is sometimes very important to have good friends when you are alone away from home. I was given these by a friend yesterday. Her mom made these…
I actually was not aware, but I am now after seeing these 粽子 zong zi (glutinous rice dumplings), 端午节 Duanwu Festival is coming. In fact, it was yesterday.
端午节 Duanwu Festival is more commonly known as the Dragon Boat Festival due to the dragon boat races occurring on this day every year. It falls on 五月初五 the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar calendar every year. Because the Lunar calendar counts days differently compared to the Gregorian calendar, and we mostly follow the Gregorian one for our day to day life, it falls on different days every year. This year it was 20th June.
There are many versions of the origin of this festival. The most popular version is that of 屈原 Qu Yuan. He was a minister for the 楚国 Chu kingdom during the 战国时期 Warring States period of China. When the king wanted to make a stupid decision to ally with the powerful 秦国 Qin kingdom, he objected it vehemently but instead of listening to him, the king accused him of treason and banished him. Eventual Qin really conquered Chu during his exile. He committed suicide out of despair by jumping into a river (I forgot which river).
He was very well liked by the local people, so when they learnt of his suicide, they quickly raced out to the river in their boats to try to rescue him. When they realized it was futile and he was gone, they made sticky rice balls and threw them into the river hoping that the fish would eat the rice balls and leave Qu Yuan’s body alone. That’s how the dragon boat race and glutinous rice dumplings came about.
So you see, I think our politicians did learn from the history of China, they obviously know the bad consequences of voicing out against bad policies…
Anyway, let’s get back to those lovely zong zi. I don’t know how this thing has evolved in China after thousands of years, but here in Malaysia, we adapt from the Cantonese style of dumplings. We can basically get three main types of zong zi here:
- 咸肉粽 Ham Yuk Zong (Salty Meat Dumpling) – This is a savory type of dumpling. In Penang (Hokkien speaking community), it is called bak zhang (肉粽). There are many ingredients added to the glutinous rice filling, typically Chinese mushroom, pork belly piece, chestnut, black eyed peas, dried shrimps and salted egg yolk. This is probably the most popular type, and it is the most delicious one in my opinion.
- 碱水粽 Kan Shui Zong (Alkaline Water Dumpling) – The glutinous rice is treated with lye water to give it a yellow color. There are no other fillings added to the rice, so the rice has basically no flavors other than the alkaline taste. You usually dip them in sugar or kaya (coconut jam) before eating to get some flavors in. Sometimes people add red bean paste inside the dumpling to give it a sweeter taste. This is my least favorite type of zong zi.
- 娘惹粽 Nyonya Zong (Nyonya Dumpling) – Nyonya (or Peranakan) means the descendants of the early China immigrants that settled in Malaysia and intermarried with local Malays, mostly in Penang and Malacca. They have their own version of dumplings, where the glutinous rice is mixed with some stuff that makes the rice blue in color, and they have a spicy dried shrimp (and sometimes minced pork) filling.
The ones that my friend gave me, they are the savory type, the bak zhang. To be honest, if not for the kind gestures from my friends all these years in Penang, I probably would not be eating any dumplings at all. I am just too lazy to go out and hunt for decent dumplings…
Anyway, I got them yesterday, chucked them both into the fridge, and this morning had them for breakfast. It was a simple matter of steaming them for 10 minutes at they were ready to eat.
And, these dumplings are lovely! All the key ingredients are in there, especially that piece of pork belly piece with that bit of fatty pork! The whole dumpling was packed full of flavors! Yums!!!
I’m so happy sinking my teeth into them. It made me feel so great for the rest of the day. Thanks, friend, for remembering me in such a wonderful way! 😀