Thursday, May 03, 2007

Nonya Style Glutinous Rice Parcels Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves

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A mouthful of a title, isn't it. Well, that's pretty much what a Nonya 'Chang' is - Nonya styled stewed meat, stuffed in a bamboo-leave wrapped glutinous rice parcel. It is an East Asian delicacy that fervent households would churn out annually to mark the month of the Dragon Boat Festival. It is tradition that Chang or Zongzi is made during the month when the festival is held. There are many variations of this delicacy, but this Nonya one happened to be the 'easier' version that I was willing to attempt as a first timer. What I also mean to say is that, as much as I welcome a challenge, I'd rather not shoot for the sky and risk setting myself up for failure afterwards (and not to mention, making a terrible mess of the kitchen and wasting good ingredients).

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I got this particular recipe from Miss Lily's lovely site. Apparently, she in turn took her recipe from the book, The Best of Singapore Cooking by Mrs Leong Yee Soo. The recipe was titled Kueh Chang Babi, and a great recipe it is indeed! Most of the ingredients listed can be purchased at any large Asian grocers' here. Try Yuen's at Suunybank or Fortitude Valley and Burlington's at Fortitude Valley as well. There are also more Asian supermarkets around Sunnybank, but we usually stick to the above mentioned places.

Now, to the part where we actually make the chang.

T'was a rather daunting task for us, attempting to make chang. Not only are there several different components to prepare beforehand (soaking bamboo leaves, rendering pork fat, preparing blue dye, etc), but the long cooking process to acheive the perfect al dente yet soft, delicious glutinous rice (bursting with rich, meaty stuffing) makes the whole cooking experience an ardous but rewarding one.

May I also add that folding these little parcels of goodness is an entricate artform in itself! Right now, we're still greenhorns with a long way to go before we master the art of folding chang, or at least getting the hang of making proper symetrical pyramid shapes. Oh, and having Bjorn around didn't help much either, for he made an equal mess of them.

Fruitful as it was, the whole exercise took the most part of the day, and cleaning up wasn't funny either. But they tasted and looked nice, and we hope you enjoy the pictures nonetheless!

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