Saturday, May 24, 2014

Recipe: 咸粽子, savoury rice dumpling

With Dragon Boat Festival coming round the corner, I've decided to share with everyone on how to make your very own rice dumplings at home! This was my very first try last year. So please don't expect perfect mastery level rice dumplings. Haha. This is just a guide for beginners. :P  

Like I mentioned, I'm no expert. I did these dumplings from the faint memory that I have of my mother wrapping it for my family, and she doesn't make dumplings on a yearly basis. I'm was however determined to give it a try to surprise the family. Just because my dad was craving and my mum was too LAZY to wrap. Yes, my mum is no kitchen person. LOL.  

Rice dumpling making is seriously one labourious project, from the prep-work to the wrapping and finally to the cooking itself. 

Ingredients (make 15 rice dumplings):
500 g glutinous rice 
30-40 dried bamboo leaves (larger size easier to wrap)
15-20 straw ties, or kitchen twine 
500 g pork belly
8 salted egg yolks
8 dried mushrooms 
chinese sausages, thinly sliced 
50g dried shrimps 
chopped garlic and shallots 

Seasoning for rice:
1/2 cup light soy sauce
1/4 cup dark soy sauce

Seasoning for filling:
3 tbsp black vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 star anise

I suggest that you start the preparation the day before. 

Day 1:
1. Prepare the dumpling leaves by soaking them in a bucket of water. Remember to include the grass strands as well! :) If the leaves float up, use something heavy to bring it down. This process is to ensure that the leaves turn soft enough for folding. 

2. Wash and soak the glutinous rice and dried mushroom separately, overnight. 

Day 2:
1. Rinse and gently dry the leaves with a cloth.  Set aside for use later.

2. Rinse and wash the glutinous rice. Set aside for use later.

3. Remove stem and slice the soften mushroom into smaller pieces. Set aside for use later.

4. Slice pork belly into 15 equal chucks and half each egg yolks.

Stir-fry the filling:
1. In a large wok, heat up the oil before adding garlic and shallot. Stir fried until golden brown. 
2. Add the mushroom and sauté for about a minute. 
3. Add the dried shrimps and chinese sausages. Toss for another minute.
4. Add the pork belly. Reduce heat to medium before adding in the seasoning mixture. Mix well and stir-fry for about 2 minutes before removing from heat.
5. Using a pair of chopsticks, separate the mushrooms, pork belly and chinese sausages into different bowls (bits of dried shrimps in each is fine). Place the halved egg yolks in a separate bowl as well. Set aside for later use. 

Stir-fry the rice: 
1. In a large wok, heat up the oil before adding garlic and shallot till golden brown. Reduce heat and add in the rice. 
2. Toss briefly to coat the rice before adding in the seasoning mixture. Toss quickly now to mix well.
3. Remove the rice from heat and set aside. 

***Especially for stir frying the rice, please stir fry under medium low heat. Stir-frying is just to add fragrance to the rice. We don't want to cook it. If you stir fry the rice under high heat, the rice will end up cooked at the surface and the rice will  stick to the wok, which we really don't want this to happen. 

courtesy of Annielicious

To wrap (I couldn't photograph the wrapping process, so I grabbed a photo from the net.):
1. Layer 2 bamboo leaves in your palm, smooth side up. Form a cone using the top end of the leaves. Do make sure that the tip is enclosed to prevent leakage. 
2. Add 1 tbsp of rice into the well before layer the rest of the filling as desired. 
3. Cover with about 2 tbsp of rice or until the cone is almost full. 
4. Press down the rice and filling firmly before wrapping. (click here for video on how to wrap the dumpling) 
5. Repeat the processes until you have used up all the ingredients! 

To cook:
1. Bring a large pot of water (enough to cover all the dumplings) to boil.
2. Place the wrapped dumplings into the water, make sure that all of them are fully submerged. 
3. Cook for about 2 hours under high heat. Top up with more water if necessary. 
4. Remove and drain completely before serving. 

Did the long tedious process scares you? I hope not. Haha! I find the process quite manageable as long as you plan beforehand. The difficult part for me was the wrapping as this is my first time wrapping dumplings! My mum was actually quite surprised that I was able to come out with the shape. Well, not exactly very nice. But passable ya? 

Anyway, my mum said I'm really lucky to get it on my first try. Haha. Considering that she would have thought that my filling would leaked or the dumpling could have burst. Wells. I was like really praying hard that I don't get floating fillings in the pot! *phew* 

Nothing is impossible when you set your heart on it. This year I will probably be making again, including the share for the boy's family as well! Oh boy, wish me luck ya? :D 



  1. Hi Lirong

    Gong ho to your effort! I wish I possessed a faction of your wrapping skill. I love bak chang very much and tried making myself two years ago but as you said, the wrapping part is a challenge and I failed miserably. In the end, the pot of well seasoned glutinous rice, I just cooked it the normal way and ate it.

    Maybe I should give it a try this year. For sure, once I've mastered the wrapping, I will make bak chang with good quality fillings anytime. I normally buy good and cheap quality dried stuffs such as lotus, mushroom, sausage, bamboo leaves, hei bee, salted eggs, etc. from wholesales shops at Waterloo Street. God knows, I love bak change, esp. Hokkien bak chang very much.

    Priscilla Poh

    1. Hi Priscilla,

      thank you so much for the encouragement! Don't give up! You might just be able to do it this time round!^^ Nothing beats homemade ones for sure! ^^