My first endeavour making rice dumplings was when I was about 15. I was very excited and this was my first time doing so. No one in the house made rice dumplings ever since grandaunt last did it. No one knew how to do it actually, or would bother to do it because it is considered something very troublesome.
|Dumpling for 2..... or More, LOL|
My mom roughly told me how to do it, trying to recall how her mom (my maternal granny) did it. My mom never picked up the ropes from her parents and only learnt to cook in her late 30's. My mom knew how to wrap (the normal tetrahedron ones), but didn't know how to prepare the ingredients, especially how to season. So, with the blind leading the blind... imagine what happened to the dumplings. The pork was nicely marinated (I fried one piece to taste!), but the rice and beans were..................... horribly tasteless. I literally cried when I ate one dumpling after being boiled for 4 hours. And we made so much! 40 pcs! Oh my! I can't imagine myself stuffing them down my throat.
|pork all through the long dumpling|
Luckily, my mom's sister came visiting right after the dumplings were done. LOL. Just in time! My mom shoved 30 pcs to her, asking her to go back and pass to the other brothers (my uncles). My aunt was ok with it. Because my mother said, grandma's dumplings had tasteless beans too. So, they will eat it alright. I grew up eating well seasoned beans in dumplings. So, I find that hard to swallow.
I don't know about dumplings in other places, but even those in Kuala Kangsar here, the local women made rice dumplings of which... I don't favour much. The beans are bland too, even though the dumpling looks dark and flavourful, but to me... nah. Still prefer Ipoh and Kampar's. My friends' moms who made dumplings all taste delicious. Or maybe it's the matter of me being accustomed to the taste.
|2nd piece being sliced|
Ok, back to guangxi zongzi.
I never knew there is guangxi style zongzi. Never! Until last 2 years.
I heard my cousin saying my kaofoo (brother of mother) gave them 2 dumplings, took one day to finish one. My eyes went big? What? Why so slow to eat one dumpling?
Then she told me, it's as long as my forearm, how to eat in one go? My eyes went BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGG! What? That long? There are such long dumplings?
Then my cousin said, yeah, it has always been this long, slice it to eat it. Like Lemang.
|final few pieces... still with pork :)|
My mom then said, yeah, their family does the zongzi in that manner. And only the men can do it, because they have large hands. At that time, I just felt like "uuuurrrgh!!!" Mom, why you never told us about the traditions in your family??????? And I was already more than 30 when I knew this. 30 years of ignorance!
Can't blame my mom. My mom always think that, she's married to a Cantonese, and so, she should raise her kids as Cantonese. Sigh..... Which is why she refuse to teach us the Guangxi dialect.
But now, her thoughts have changed and she wants me to pick up her family dishes. When the better cooks in her family has passed away... that is when she realised, that the special dishes are also gone with them.
Mom can only roughly describe to me how grandma did it, "Borax, alkaline water, raw black eye peas, 5 spice pork with rind," That's all I could dig from her. Mom said, Grandma would make a few kerosene cans of dumplings and hang them up on the wall to be consumed for a week (yes a week w/o referigeration, the power of Borax!!). 10 kids could easily finish them up. If one is hungry, just pull one dumpling down and eat, for that whole week. Mom said, grandma won't cook until the dumplings are gone.
With that limited information, I had to rely on Mr Google. Then I found this site and then Baidu confirmed that one of guangxi dumplings distinct characteristic is the smell of alkaline/ lye water, like how my mom said grandma did put lye water in it. I was happy that I could finally start working on recreating the guangxi dumpling in my kitchen.
Guangxi Rice Dumpling
Guangxi Baike and my mom
1kg pork belly (skin on)
2 tsp salt (10g)
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp dark caramel sauce (can use more)
1 Tbsp 5 spice powder (bought from chinese herbal shops which are coarser and more fragrant)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp shao xing wine
Good dash of white pepper
1. Cut pork into 16 strips (5 or 6 inch long)
2. Marinate with all the ingredients for 2 days.
300gm black eye peas
300gm red beans (azuki)
*or any combination of other beans
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp alkaline water
1. Soak overnight and drain for 30 minutes.
2. Mix with salt, sugar and alkaline water.
3. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
2kg glutinous rice
4 cubes of fermented white beancurd (fu yue, I used the round bottle type)
2 Tbsp shao xing wine
1.5 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp alkaline/lye water
1/2 cup oil (lightly sautéed with 3 shallots and 3 clove garlic, both finely minced)
1. Soak rice overnight. Drain the rice into a colander and let it drip dry for 30 mins.
2. Heat wok and put in oil. Saute minced garlic and shallots until fragrant and lightly golden.
3. Turn off the heat and put in fermented beancurd, salt, sugar and shaoxing wine. Mix until a paste forms.
4. Put in drained rice. Toss to combine (You can turn on the heat as you do this. It will make the rice more manageable, but not to cook it) Taste the rice and spit it out. It should taste slightly oversalted. Lastly add in alkaline water and mix well.
1 pack dried bamboo leaves (300gm 11cm wide)
16 strips of 5.5 ft long reed or cotton twines. (I used the reed, "Harm Sui Chou 咸水草" that came with the leaves in the packing)
1. Soak the leaves and reed in tap water until soft (few hours).
2. Wash and trim the hard ends off.
3. Blanch in boiling water for a while and it’s ready for use.
Just a rough guidance on how to wrap. Different families may use different method. It may seem hard at first, but as you go on, you will get the hang of it. FYI, this is my first time wrapping zongzi this way. My maternal uncles employ a different method, that they hold everything in the palm as they do it. I used a measuring cup to measure the rice so that each dumpling will have the same amount of rice. I was packing the rice tight in some, and not so tight in some and ended up with 17 dumplings. If packed tight (in measuring cup) for every dumpling, should yield 16.
|bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 4 hours, switching the dumplings halfway.|
Don't worry too much about how it looks, see my first dumpling and my later ones....
How long is one dumpling? Mine are on average 8.5inches.
If only these are filled with gold and not rice.. LOL
Oh yes, If you might be wondering whether my beans were bland,
Oh no they are not.
I won't eat if they are bland. Yucks!
My hubby still prefers the bak chang.
I still haven't send some of these to my mom.
Still have 6 in my freezer. She's waiting for these.
Video (updated 6/6/13)
I'll be taking a break.
See you somewhere in June.
Happy School Semester Break!