Thursday, August 13, 2009

bak zhang (粽子)

My maternal grandmother was an exceptional woman. She knew how to cook so many types of local cuisine. It is such a pity that I did not manage to record as many recipes from her as I would have liked.

One of my grandmother's specialities was bak zhang (粽子). It is literally translated to mean "meat dumpling". It is actually a glutinous rice dumpling containing thick pieces of pork and is savoury. I remember assisting my grandmother in the preparation of her home-made bak zhang (粽子) at her home in Muar, Malaysia. It is labour intensive and I struggled to wrap the ingredients in the bamboo leaves and press the bak zhang (粽子) firmly to form the shape that you see below. Invariably, there would be two sets of bak zhang (粽子) when it was ready and it was obvious which set was made by my grandmother and which set was made by her "helpers".

When you have on hand some bak zhang (粽子) and you wish to heat it up, there are several ways:-

(a) if it has not yet been refrigerated, you can steam it in a steamer;

(b) if it has in the meantime been refrigerated, it would be preferable to immerse it in a pot of water and let the water boil;

(c) to microwave it - this is fast but not so advisable because it would tend to cool down and harden quite quickly.

When you cut open a bak zhang (粽子) , you can smell the wonderful aroma of the ingredients.

A good bak zhang (粽子) is very substantial - not just in terms of the amount of glutinous rice but also the ingredients that are added.

My favourite bak zhang (粽子) contains the following ingredients:-

(a) lean pork

(b) chestnut

(c) dried Chinese mushrooms

(d) salted egg

As the bak zhang (粽子) is very filling and can be oily, it is advisable to drink Chinese tea or green tea.

Currently, Da and I drink green tea with rose hips and rose petals. We bought a box of tea bags from one of the supermarkets when we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in December 2008.

Alternatively, you can brew your own green tea. For this, you will need:-

(a) green tea leaves

(b) rose buds

(c) wolfberries

(Thank you, GML, for this tip.)

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