Sunday, 8 June 2008

Meat Dumpling Festival

Today is meat dumpling festival. Meat dumpling or popularly known among the Hokkien Chinese as "Bah Chang" (Hokkien) or the Cantonese Chinese as"Chung" is the food that is traditionally eaten by Chinese during the "Dragon Boat Festival". The said festival is usually celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of Lunar Year Calendar.
The legend surrounding this festival, if i remember correctly was in memorial of a great poet of the ancient China. The poet apparently was a very patriotic minister who was then the war advisor to the King. However, the King had always turned a deaf ear towards whatever good advices given by this Minister. Finally, the country was defeated by the enemies. Alas, the minister has chosen to end his life by throwing himself into a river out of despair.
Oh yeah, i recalled watching such a show in cinema when i was very young. But then at that tender age, I wasn't quite able to appreciate the story but i did remember vividly the suicidal scene which was rather dramatic. As you can imagine the typical sound effect like thunder rumbling and the bright blue sky suddenly turned into total darkness and also lightning strikes...I suppose you can easily visualize that sort of scene which is the typical ploy used by most movie directors to maneuver one's emotion... One very important point to note was the Miniter was determined to die by grasping a rock. Well, to tell the truth, i can't really appreciate this sort of movie at that tender age. All i can remembered was the sound effect and the suicidal scene as though a prelude of a disastrous storm..this reaffirm my belief that his committing suicide was a great deed which the Heaven was also equally shocked like the people and moved by his act! However, i could remembered even better the taste of bah chang. Why? Because the death of this great man has contributed to the invention of "chang" and this delicacies is still enjoyed by all the Chinese till today during this time of the year. This is similar to why we eat Nin Gou(sticky rice cake) during the Chinese new year, mooncake during the Mid-Autumn festival or glutinuous rice ball during the Winter Arrival Festival. Well, i think it is better put as the Malays must eat Ketupat during Hari Raya. Cos the "Chang" is actually some glutinuous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.

Coming back to the legend of why Chang-eating is associating with the death of this Great poet, my late grandpa told the story- Konon-nya, this Minister is a honest man, a kind fella, a nation's lost treasure, a true son of the soil, the greatest patriot in that country, a man of great character, a leader dedicated to the development of the people and the country, who enjoyed immense love and respect from the people of the country....(In short, a great hero). The news of his suicide stunned the country. The rakyat raced their boat into the river trying to rescue him and in an attempt to discover his body, be it dead or alive but..sad to say, to no avail. (Of course la.. he held the rock with him. How do you expect him to be alive or expect his body to be floating even when he's dead, right?)

Because the rakyat loved him so so very much, they can't bear to see his body being devoured by the hundreds and thousands of piranhas from the river. And then finally one smart alack came out with an idea of throwing bamboo leaf-wrapped rice into the river to feed the fish which according to him, so that the fish will be busy nibbling the rice instead of his dead body ( He undermined the wisdom of these fish). Anyway, ta da...this is the whole story about the reason why we eat meat dumpling and the custom is still carrying on till today.....

As i have not mastered the skills of dumpling making, i think i better don't share any of the chang recipe. Anyway, for those who are keen to pick up this trade, I have the urge to teach you my own invention of Chang-making...cos i believe all good things must be shared.

The below is just a brief description on the SIMPLIFIED METHOD OF DUMPLING MAKING if you are keen to try it out. The reason why the measurements are not given is because i have not tried it out myself yet. Try following the recipe if you got guts to try out..

1. Glutinuous rice, fried with garlic, onion and some dried shrimps
2. Pork (or Chicken), not too lean must come with some streaks of fat or skin, marinate with soy sauce and starch
3. Chinese chestnut, simmer till soft
4. Shitake mushrooms, simmer till soft
5. Five spiced powder for seasoning
6. Do remember the salt if you do not intend to season the above ingredients with lots of black soy sauce like my mom in law usually like to do (Typical Hokkien, everything dark dark only nice)

1. Place all the above in a container, steam until everything is cooked (This is similar to the making of a Lo Mai Kai).
2. Next, take two pieces of bamboo leaves (make sure you boil first to soften the leaves), fold into cone shape, stuff the cooked glutinuous rice into the cone. Make into the shape of a dumpling. Tie with a hay string. Steam for another...emm one hour maybe, to ensure that the rice absorb all the fragrance of the bamboo leaves.

This is the evolution of the chang history, the new-aged chang. If it is successful, be sure not to tell anybody that your chang is made using this method. Of course you can treat me some as a gesture of appreciation for me have shared this recipe with you! Don't worry, I swear not to tell anybody of your new invention! Hehehe!

Another important thing that you must take note of is that Meat Dumpling is actually the culprit for indigestion. For those who have digestion problem due to a weak spleen, gall bladder, gut or a stomach, you should not over-consume this delicacies or the consequence is undesirable.
The common complaints after over indulgence of meat dumpling are such as "heatiness", sore throat, heart-burn, regurgitation, constipation etc..In fact, some people choked themselves to death. My late grand-mother in law was one of the Chang victim. Her anniversary date coincide with the Chang Festival. Poor thing! So watch out! This CHANG thing can be really fatal! Believe it or not....

Happy Eating.


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