Monday, June 6, 2011

Ba Chang Festival has a sad legend behind it

Today is Ba Chang festival so I am re-posting this recipe for the benefit of those who have missed it when it was posted early last year.

I want to dedicate this post to my Mum’s best friend, whom I call “Ah Sum” (aunty). She is 86 years old this year, very healthy and alert and still cooks and sews fabulously! She cooks lots of mouth watering dishes and one of her specialties is Ba Chang. She makes a lot of it to give away to family and friends on the fifth month of the Chinese Lunar calendar every year. 

According my Mum, the Ba Chang festival is to commemorate the death of a famous Chinese poet called Qu Yuan who lived during the warring states period in China. He drowned himself because he failed to warn his king of the expansionism of their Qin neighbor who eventually took over their capital city.  According to legend, people throw packets of rice into the river where he was drowned to prevent fish from eating his body. I find this legend rather wierd because it seemed like we get to eat nice food every year because someone took his life? Furthermore, why bother to wrap the rice so nicely to throw them into the sea? My mum said I am always thinking too much and asking too many questions. This is her way of asking me to zip my big mouth. LOL!

Coming back to making the Ba Chang, it is not difficult to prepare the rice and the fillings but the tricky part is the wrapping of the rice with the leaves.  “Ah Sum” is the expert.  She made it look so easy but when I do it, everything falls apart.. *SIGH*

Ba Chang (Rice dumplings)

Serving : 10 ba chang


300 g Belly Pork

200 g mei dou, (black eye pea)
10 Preserved egg yolks
600 g Glutinous rice
10 pieces dried shitake mushrooms
2 tsps Five-spice powder
100 gm dried shrimps
10 roasted chestnuts
black sauce, according to taste
3 tbsp garlic
3 tbsp shallots
rice wine according taste


2 tbs Spicy salt
1 Chicken cube
¼ ts Pepper
1 tbs Sugar
2 tb Oil
¼ ts Salt
1 tbs Oil
1 tsp Sugar

Wrapping Materials:
20 Straws
30 Bamboo leaves

In a wok, heat oil and stir fry garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add rice and continue to fry for 5 to 7 minutes. Add black sauce and five spice powder and continue to fry for 5 to 7 minutes and set aside. Cut the belly pork into 10 large chunks and marinate for 2 days with 2 ts five-spice powder and 1 ts salt. Wash and drain the glutinous rice. Mix well with ½ tbsp sugar, chicken cube, oil and pepper. Soak the mei dou (black eye pea) in water to for 3 hours. Drain and set aside. Soak the dried shitake mushrooms in warm water for 1 hours. Squeeze dry and cut slices and set aside. Steam for 10 minutes. Wash and boil the bamboo leaves until soft. Drain and towel-dry. Take 3 bamboo leaves and make a cup. Put a layer of glutinous rice on the bamboo leaves and add a layer of mei dou. Top with a preserved egg yolk, a piece each of belly pork, 2 slices of cooked shitake mushroom and 1 piece of roasted chestnut. Cover with a layer of mei dou and another layer of glutinous rice. Fold in the leaves to form a triangle dumpling, then tie firmly with straw. Prepare a deep saucepan and line with several bamboo leaves. Put in the rice dumplings, then fill with enough water to cover them. Use high heat to bring the water to a boil, then reduce to moderate heat and continue to boil for 6 hours. Remove and drain. Serve hot.

Here is the link to a video to show you the ba chang chronicles. Hope this makes it easier for you to understand how to do it.


  1. Happy Dumpling Festival to you too.

  2. So sweet of you to delicate this post to a lovely lady.

    I love your ba chang post and the tradition of making and eating ba chang for this festival. Unfortunately, making ba chang will be too much of quantity for us to finish. And so, we will just normally buy them instead of making.

  3. What a nice tribute post! How thoughtful!

  4. I've heard of this story before where they throw dumplings into the water so the fish eat the dumpling instead of the dead body. And the dragon boating is to 'scare' the fishes away from the body as well. I'm just wondering, which type of zhang is the fish's favourite .. hehe

  5. Veronica, thks for refreshing my memory on the legend! My family has never made Bak Chang & I used to see my neighbours make them. I love eating them esp those with salted egg-yolks :)

  6. This looks have a lovely blog...I am having a giveaway in my blog..Y dont you check and join that

  7. Happy Bak Chang day to you & your family :)

  8. Your auntie is so sweet! But I gotta say, your questions are AWESOME!! =)

  9. Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving your comments. You have a nice blog.....will visit again.

  10. Happy Dumpling Festival to you ! me too, i have no problem to prepare the ingredients but when come to wrapping, all out of shapre, hahaha..

  11. I would love to try this it looks so yummy.
    I am having a problem reading your blog as there is a sign that is travelling down on top of everything for Tweet, Facebook, Buzz and Submit..... Take care Diane

  12. Happy Dumpling Festival to you Quay Po:D Boiling the chang for 6 hours is a long time! I usually cook mine in 3 hours! My boys are too impatient to wait 6 hours.

  13. Beautiful picture,liked the idea of putting it on youtube.. Thanks for stopping by..

  14. In my culture we eat good to commemorate the good times as well as the bad. Sounds like a similar idea here.

  15. Thanks for dropping by my blog. Your pictures are too good!

  16. We use food for good times and bad. I love to hear of your families traditions and I love how you think and question everything! blessings and enjoy the bak chang day ~ tanna

  17. Hi Quay Po,

    My parents told me that story too and like you, I also asked many questions. Haha. I think I even asked the same question as you, why bother wrapping the rice. You and I will get along very very well. Haha. To be honest, I like eating these, but because I don't eat much meat, I only pick at the rice and leave the meat for hubby. Lol. Thank you for sharing that video. They make the wrapping look so easy, eh? My grandma used to make these also and they were so good. Now you're making me crave for them. Teehee.

  18. Thanks for sharing! I have always wanted to make one- maybe another year! ;)

  19. i love eating rice dumplings! made them last year but too lazy this year. too much work! this year's dumplings are freaking ex so i guess I'd probably have to revert to making them myself again next year! Thanks for sharing your ah sum's recipe! Does she make the nonya version as well?


  20. I simply love this dumpling, but with chicken.

    Happy Festival to all of you. Thanks for wishing me on my blog's 2nd Birthday ;)

  21. This Ba Chang is so delicious with mei dou and egg yolks inside.

  22. Small Kucing, DG: Thanks. How about you? Did you enjoyed the Ba Chang day? Did you eat lots of ba chang?

    Zoe: I am with you, I will not make it when the family is small. Too much trouble.

    yummychunklet: Thanks. It is action and reaction. Ah Sum is a very thoughtful old lady.

    Swee San: Think their favorite are the cooked and unwrapped ones, save them the trouble to figure out how to untie the wrapped ones. hehe

    Shirley: Oh me too, I remember when I was a little girl, the first thing I go for in the ba chang is the salted egg yolk.

    Aarthi: Thanks for the invite to check on your giveaway:D

    Belinda: My auntie is a very kind and generous person. Because f her kindness, she is rewarded with filial children and grand children and loyal friends.

    Jayashree, A2Z: you are most welcome. Hope to see you around.

    Sonia: haha, so I am not alone.

    Diane: Thanks for pointing out the interference of the share box. I think I fixed it.

    Jeannie: Is 3 hours enough? My mum said in the olden days when they use charcoal, 8 hours is required.

    That Girl: I think so too.

    Divya: I am glad you like my pics and I appreciate your compliment.

    Tanna: thanks, I eat ba chang for breakfast, lunch and dinner so tell if I had enjoyed the day or not? hehe..

    LeQuan: We know that already that we are on the same wave length. You eat all the rice and give all the meat to your hubby? What a big sacrifice my dear hehe

    daphne: yes at least try making it once and share with me your experience.

    Alan: Are the ba chang very expensive in Singapore? Here we can get at about RM3.50 for those have roasted chestnut, pork, mei dou and salted egg yolk and they are quite delicious. Of course not as delicious as the ones Ah Sum made but good enough. Oh Ah Sum does not make the nyonya verson. Do you like that better?

    Ka Love: Thanks for dropping by. I am happy to be your reader to share the joy of your blog's 2nd birthday.

    yummylittlecooks: you bet, to me, those are the two very important ingredients although some people might not like the salted egg yolks.

  23. OMG, Bak Chang! I have to go get some bamboo leaves and straws at the Asian store to make some at home. Been away on vacation for a week. Hopefully they still have it. Your Bak Chang looks so good. I can eat 2 of em in one seating.

  24. Happy Belated Dumpling Festival~! I was away for a short vacation.

  25. Happy Dumpling Festival Quay Po. Like you recipe, do you fry the rice, then wash & drain? Thanks

    1. Yes, the rice is lightly fried but no need to wash and drain.


I love to hear from you. Your comments mean a lot to me. Thanks!