The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Malaysian food - Part 5: Rice Dumplings and Buns

This is the final part on my spiel on Malaysian food, and the honour goes to dumplings and buns simply because they were the very last things we ate before our flight to Perth. We had a few hours between landing in Kuala Lumpur from Langkawi and flying out from KL to Perth, and my dad was kind enough to bring our additional luggage and drive us the 20minutes distance between the two airport terminals. I requested that he brought some yummy food for our last meal in Malaysia (with specific requests for these two items), and was it ever yummy!

The dumpling I'm talking about is a Chinese Rice Dumpling known in Malaysia as Chang, or Bak Chang if they contain meat (bak means pork in Hokkien). (In Mandarin it is called Zongzi.) It is made of glutinous rice stuffed with delicious fillings, wrapped in bamboo leaves and then boiled. The filling in bak chang is usually a delicious combination of pork belly, Chinese mushrooms, dried shrimps, salted duck egg yolk, and chestnuts. Traditionally it is made during the Dragon Boat Festival, but I'm pretty sure that in Malaysia chang is usually available most of the time because as a kid, I used to enjoy chang regularly - something that discontinued when we migrated to Australia. It is quite a tedious and long process to make bak chang, as I found out from my elder sister who tried to learn making it from my Nonya grandmother before we moved to Australia. A search on the internet for recipes also reveal that making bak chang indeed involves a long and arduous process - here's one recipe to give an idea. It must feel rewarding after making a successful batch of bak chang.

Bak Chang wrapped in bamboo leaves, and how it looks like unwrapped. Unfortunately eating chang without plate and utensils is pretty messy and sticky so once I started eating it I couldn't take additional photos (it was already pretty tricky trying to take a shot of the chang with greasy fingers after I'd unwrapped it).

I'm sure many are familiar with Bao (Chinese buns) from eating (or at least sighting) Cha Siu Bao during a dimsum/yumcha meal at a Chinese restaurant. However, these ones that I love eating are different and more superior than the popular cha siu bao. I know them as Da Bao (da means "big") and my favourite ones are filled pork, half a boiled egg and the usual seasonings and vegetables. I remember eating them for breakfast or lunch in my dad's car during long car trips travelling interstates with my family when I was a kid in Malaysia. And this one was as good as the ones in my memory. Mmm, delicious.

A whole bao, and its meat filling:

Overall, we had a great time in Malaysia, indulging in perhaps far too much delicious Malaysian food. I think it'll be awhile before we start craving good Malaysian food again. I hope that the photos and descriptions in the past five entries is a good introduction to those who are not familiar with Malaysian food. This is but a peek into the vast variety of food that is known as Malaysian cuisine - I wish our stay in Malaysia was longer so that I could tell you more!

No comments:

Post a Comment