Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bak Chang (Savoury Rice Dumplings) 咸肉粽

All rice dumplings in Mandarin are called Zongzi.

I'm making savoury meat dumplings. Hokkiens call it Bak Chang, Cantonese call it Harm Yook Joong... other dialects.. no idea
I dunno whether this is cantonese style, hokkien or hakka...
But u can check the differences here at this prominent food site in Malaysia
My grandaunt came from Panyu, Guangdong province made white coloured savoury joongs, with pork, mung beans and mushrooms as fillings. She doens't put salty egg due to $$$, she finds it wasteful to throw away the whites. Hers was damn good, but I never knew how to do the seasoning... No fried shallots and stuff.. but very fragrant and yummy.
My maternal grandma of Kwongsi descent, made white joongs with soaked black eye peas and pork. She added sodium benzoate to hers and mom said it lasted for weeks w/o referigeration.
When I was in Form 6, during duan wu jie season, a bunch of us will bring a few joongs and a spoon. When it's time for break, we'll open up our joongs, each holding a spoon, will be digging into each other's parcels. It's such fun... The way our mothers did the joongs are quite similiar, except for Yoke Waie's (with peanuts, loads of garlic pips and pork)
This is the way I make it.. with marinated pork, precooked black eye peas, fried garlic pips, shitake mushrooms, chestnuts, salted egg yolks and of course, fragrant lightly fried glutinous rice. The fried garlic pips thingy came from eating Yoke Waie's mother's joongs..

It differs a bit from joongs made from other parts of Malaysia, the black eye peas are precooked and seasoned.... It's the way it's done in Kampar, Ipoh and other towns nearby.. but not Kuala Kangsar (which happens to be just 1/2 hr from Ipoh)
My Step by Step Bak Zhang recipe

Main ingredients to buy:

1 kg pork belly
50 pcs dried chestnuts
25 salted duck eggs
Dried Shitake Mushrooms
5 bulbs of garlic
600gm black eye peas
100 gm dried shrimp
300gm shallots
2kg glutinous rice


Marinated Pork Belly
Cut pork belly (w/o skin) into 50+ pieces
Add in 2 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce(depends on how dark the sauce is), 2 Tbsp light soy sauce, 1 Tbsp 5 spice powder.
Mix well and marinate in the fridge for at least 8 hours, best for 2-3 days.

Black Eye Peas
Soak peas overnight. Drain.
Chop finely 3/4 cup shallots
Wash dried shirmp.
Heat a heavy bottomed pot and put in 3/4 cup oil.
Saute shallots until almost golden, add in dried shrimps and fry until very fragrant.
Put in black eye peas and fry for a while.
Put in water enough to cover peas and put in 2 Tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp salt (adjust accordingly, dried shrimpsmay have various degrees of saltiness), 4 Tbsp light soy sauce, 1/2 tsp pepper powder.
Simmer until 90% dry and peas are soft.
Let cool down a bit.

Soak chestnuts the night before.
By using a sharp slim object (a small knife or skewer), remove membrane bits in slits.

Salted duck eggs
Clean egg shells.
Seperate yolks from whites.
Retain only yolks and cut into halves.

Dried Shitake Mushrooms (50 portions)
Soak mushrooms and prepare 50 pieces of it.
If mushroom is about the size of an oreo, soaking 25 will be enough. If dried mushrooms are as big as a marie biscuit, 13 mushrooms will be sufficient.

Peel pips of garlic carefully.
Wash and dry garlic.
Fry in oil until golden. You may do this using the oil to fry the rice.

Savoury Glutinous Rice
Soak Rice for at least 2 hours.
Drain rice in a big colander.
Finely chop 1 cup shallots and 2 pips of garlic.
Heat wok and put in 1 cup cooking oil. (at this point u may fry the whole garlic pips first)
Saute chopped shallots and chopped garlic until fragrant and 90% golden. Put in 2 Tbsp salt.
Put in drained rice and mix it evenly with the fragrant oil.
Add in 4 Tbsp light soy sauce and 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce.
Continue to fry rice until slightly sticky.

Mix rice with black eye peas (I prefer it this way to avoid having more of either at the end)

Fold bamboo leave into a cone.

Put in 1 Tbsp of rice pea mixture. Use spoon to lightly press.

Put in 1 pc mushroom, 1 pc marinated por, 1 pc chestnut, 1 fried garlic pip, and 1/2 egg yolk.

Top up with 2 Tbsp rice pea mixture. Using hands to firmly pack rice.

Fold in the bamboo leaves.

Tie with soaked grass strands or rafia strings.

Prepare all dumplings.

Cook in boiling water for 2 hours and remove from water inmmediately while still hot and hang up to air dry for 1 hour.

Yummy, yummy, yummy!! My hubby eats 2 at one go... minimum..

Video on how to wrap (updated 6/6/13)

Zongzi (粽子)


  1. I just made them last week. They are so delicious. I posted my work on

  2. Thankyou for sharing this post!

  3. Your Bak Zhang looks so yummy with so much ingredients. Thanks for your recipe and the steps of wrapping. Guess i need a lot of practice on it. Dun look easy for me.:(
    Anyway thanks alot.

  4. hi just discovered your blog and like the fact that there are all these asian recipes. This post kinda makes me sad because it reminds me of the bak chang my grandma used to make. Her bak chang were just THE BEST. sadly she has stopped some yrs ago, and what's sadder still is that none of us has learnt from her (plus all the other recipes...) Making dumplings is so laborious, i admire anyone who does it. It's such an irony that i have to read recipes on the internet when my own grandma at home was so good at them. But thank you, too, for providing this resource. Perhaps one day, in a moment of foolishness, i will attempt this !!! Do you have any recipe for nyonya dumpling which is my favourite? maybe i missed it on your blog

  5. jC,
    I do hope that one day you will try to make this.
    It's not too diifcult once u get the hang of it

  6. Anonymous,
    It's still not too late to learn from her if she's stil around. She can be your guide, even if she's not doing it herself. It's the technique, once you've got it, you'll never forget it.

    As said in the other dumpling posts for this year, I'll probably be doing nyonya dumpling next year, 2011.

  7. Hi there, would like to try your bak chang recipe. Do you have a copy that you can email me? Thank you.

  8. Family First,
    I don't see why I need to do that.
    I hope that you can make some very simple effort to

    bookmark the page
    Use the print friendly button
    save the webpage

  9. Hi Wendy, do you have this recipe and the Cantonese dumpling in Chinese version.? Thanks, Jo

  10. Jo,
    you can use a google translator to translate the recipe with just a few clicks.

  11. Hi Wendy, this looks so good and being away from home makes me miss zong zi. I have been running around to get all the ingredients but I can't find black eye peas, is there a substitute? Thanks!

  12. Oh no, and I bought a can of chestnuts instead of the dried ones :-( Can it be used in this recipe?

  13. Jess,
    I wonder where are u from, black eyed peas are rather common.
    Use split mung beans then. The way to prepare the mung beans,please refer to Cantonese dumpling recipe.

  14. Thanks for the reply Wendy. I am a Singaporean living in Mauritius - you won't believe I spent almost a whole week hunting down the ingredients. I am preparing everything tonight and have just cracked open 15 salted duck eggs only to have pale yellow and runny/semi-solid egg yolks :-( They don't smell bad but I think they cannot be used right? I probably have to chuck it out or maybe do a fried rice recipe in your blog. Sigh, I am so disappointed and can almost see a chaos tomorrow with the wrapping LOL

  15. Jess,
    If the yolks are soft but still holding it's shape, you can still use it, just steam it to harden. 15 salted egg in fried rice is a bit too much to be consumed just like that.
    But if the yolks are all homogenous with the whites, then you must discard it.

  16. I made it Wendy! :-) I substituted the black eye peas with mung beans as suggested but silly me didn't add extra seasoning so the outer part of the dumpling is rather bland but the inside with the fillings is really good. Adding the fried garlic pip gives it a very fragrant taste. My technique of wrapping the dumplings is not so good, so they are rather loose and some fell out during cooking :-( I halved the recipe and after wrapping 20+ dumplings and realised I didn't have enough big pots to boil them, I cooked the rest in a rice-cooker - lazy "zongzi" without the hassel of wrapping hehe... Still, thank you very much and I do admire your patience in making and sharing the recipe! :-)

  17. Made this yummies! Thanks for recipe. It's a good one!

  18. nice food
    thank you for the recipe

  19. Hi Wendy, may I know how many dumplings will this recipe yield?

  20. Angie,
    About 45-55 pieces, depending on how one wrap the zongzi, how tight the wrapping is, how big the dumplings become. In the recipe, I prepared 50 portions of pork and mushrooms and 25 pcs of yolk to be split to 2. With my own technique I usually achieve 49-51 pieces.


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