I love being Chinese because we’ve got a tonne of festivals where we get to celebrate with food and snacks and other yummy delicacies. Any way, the zhang or chinese dumpling festival is back again.
I love zhang! I love it in all its incarnations. From kee zhang (lye water dumpling) to bak zhang (meat dumpling), I’m mad over these glutinuous rice dumplings.
And to think it was inspired to save a Chinese poet from being eaten by fish in the river! The zhang or Duan Wu festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. This year it falls on 28 May, Thursday.
I’m no bak zhang expert maker so I leave this to my aunt who makes the most scrumptious zhang ever. Of course as age catches up with her, she makes fewer and fewer. A short supply always makes this festival much anticipated – I look forward to this festival with relish and a growling tummy.
Not all zhang is full of glutinuous rice containing fatty pork meat, chinese mushrooms, salted duck yolk, chestnut, dried oyster and dried prawn (hae bee).
There are those with very little ingredients (some just filled with beans) but they taste just as good. Then there are the zhang made with lye water which has nothing at all. But eaten with rich, eggy kaya or melted gula melaka, hmmm…..heaven!
While most zhang are triangular in shape, my Grandma used to make pillow shaped zhang, a larger zhang which could feed more than 2 persons happily. Sadly she does not make them anymore!
But if you are like me and can’t wrap a zhang properly, you can buy them. Every street corner in Penang seems to sell the zhang during this time.
And if you’re feeling particularly healthy, how about vegetarian zhang? Not made by me. Made by the Buddhist Tzu Chi Society.
A friend who volunteers at the society writes:
“Yes, it’s that time of the year again and we are now starting to take orders for the famous Tzu Chi vegetarian dumplings for this year. If you have any friends or colleagues who would like to buy from us, it would be great if you can help to consolidate the order and send to me. The sales of dumplings will start from 22 May 2009 onwards at RM5 each. Please let me know the date you need to have the dumplings delivered and where so that I can make the necessary arrangement. If you are not into eating dumplings, you may want to consider donating to the ingredients for the making of these dumplings.”
If you want to order, you can email Swee Yong at sycheok at gmail dot com or call 012-423 8700.
So you see, there ARE more ways than one to get your zhang if you’re not adept at wrapping them yourself!
More zhang links to feast on:
Making your own zhang – nah, too tedious for me but you may try it if you’re adventurous.
Another one but with video of step-by-step process of wrapping the zhang.
Or take a look at the recipe for peasant zhang.