17 June 2014

Bak Chang 2014 (咸肉粽 aka Zongzi / Savoury Rice Dumpling)

This year I made the Bak Chang a few days after the Dragon Boat Festival, I was too busy with shifting, unpacking and lot of others need to settle (Anyway, still very busy now as has to start packing to go back for summer holiday soon). This year making Bak Chang is not so easy as the previous year because all the ingredients like bamboo leaves, dried chesnuts, dried mushrooms, dried shrimps, salted eggs are not able to find over here. Thanks for a friend advised, I brought them from Melbourne! 

When buying the bamboo leaves or Bak Chang leaves, make sure you get a big wide leaves not long and thin leaves (like what I compared in the photos) As this will help you wrap a neat bak chang and make the wrapping task easier one. 

Actually there is no fixed rules for the Bak Chang filling, you can stuff in whatever you and your family like to eat. This is the season when family eat together and enjoy the comfort food we used to have since young. I wrapped 2.5 kg of glutinous rice which yield about 43 pieces of Bak Chang. This is the third year I wrapped the Bak Chang, feeling accomplished when the wrapping task was a smooth sailing and no rice grain leaks into the boiling pot. Give away 22 pieces to some Asian friends and their feedback on my Bak Chang were very encouraging! I'm happy that my Bak Chang can make some of them think of home ^^ Most importantly my husband and son thumbs up for the Bak Chang too \^_^/ Recently Helena's Kitchen has her dumplings wrapped with luxury dried oysters!

Attached a video from deliciousasianfood.com on how a Zongzi is wrapped http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLffGivbY-Y for your reference.

1. Try to get the big wide bamboo leaves.
2. Cut the pork as thin as you can so can stuff in more filling.
3. If possible use the small mushroom to save up time in cutting or else sliced the  big mushrooms thinly.
4. Marinade the pork a day in advanced.
5. If you can't get grass strand, kitchen twine can do the job too! (Thank you Claire who advised me on this ^^)

1. Slice the pork belly into the thickness you want, then cut into the bite size. In the meantime you can estimate how many pieces you have.
2. Marinade the pork together with mushrooms a day in advanced.

1. Soak the store bought dried bamboo leaves in water for a day.
2. Fill a pot with clean water and a small scoop of salt and cook the bamboo leaves for 5 mins. This will prevent the bamboo leaves from easy tearing.

3. Wash both sides of the bamboo leaves under running water with a piece of cloth.

4. Trim the sharp edge of the bamboo leaves, if necessary. The bamboo leaves is ready for wrapping.

(make 43 pieces)
1.5 kg pork belly, cut into bite size (I have no choice but to use frozen pork belly, however after defrost and cooked actually it tastes no difference from using the fresh pork belly meat)
70 pcs dried chestnuts (size uneven, soak and boil for 15 mins, remove membrane bits in slits)
12 pre-cooked salted duck egg yolks (as I don't have enough, I cut one into 4 pieces, if you have the choice use the uncooked salted duck egg yolks, no need to peel off the egg white)
300g dried shitake mushrooms (soak in water to soften and trim the stem, sliced into thin slices)
3 bulbs of garlic (finely chopped)
300g dried shrimp (soak in water for 10 mins, roughly chopped)
2.5 kg glutinous rice (soak in water overnight, drain rice)
200ml cooking oil (for rice)

4 tbsp light soy sauce (for rice)
4 tbsp dark soy sauce (for rice)

Marinated pork belly and sliced mushrooms:
3 tbsp sugar (to taste)
5 tbsp dark soy sauce
5 tbsp light soy sauce
5 tbsp five spice powder (can add another tbsp if you want it to taste stronger)
pepper (to taste)
salt (to taste)

250ml water
3 tbsp cooking oil

Marinated pork belly and sliced mushrooms: Add sugar, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, five spice powder, a few dash of black pepper. Mix well and marinate overnight in fridge.

1. To prepare filling: heat 3 tbsp oil in wok, stir fry marinated pork and mushrooms for 5 mins,  and add dried chestnuts. Add 250ml water and let it simmer for another 15 mins. Add salt and sugar to taste. Set aside.

2. To prepare glutinous rice: add 200ml oil into the wok used in (1). Add garlic and dried shrimp, stir-fry until fragrant. Add glutinous rice, mix well. Sufficient oil added will ensure the rice wouldn't stick on the bamboo leave later. Add 4 tbsp light soy sauce and 4 tbsp dark soy sauce. (Depends on how dark and salty you want the rice dumpling to be) Set aside.

3. To assemble: Overlap two pieces of bamboo leaves, make a cone shape and press in a spoonful of rice, top with filling and cover with rice again, spoon some gravy from the filling onto the rice, wrap up the rice dumplings and tie with grass strands or kitchen twine.

4. To Boil: Prepare a big pot of water, add 1 tbsp of salt, when water boiled, lower down the rice dumplings (10 pieces each time for my pot), boil for at least 1 hour. The water level has to be always above the rice dumplings. Take out the rice dumplings while it is done, dip dry the rice dumplings by hanging.