I made it through the rain…

Well, it wasn’t me…but my friend/ex-colleague, Richard did.

It was raining cats and dogs that night and I was lazing around the house enjoying the welcome relief. It had been scorchingly hot here these days, you see…and the torrential downpour certainly helped cool things down a bit. All of a sudden, my handphone came alive:

“…but I set fire to the rain…”

It was Richard who was so nice and thoughtful as to brave the rain just to come all the way to my house to send me these nyonya zhangs (meat dumplings)…

Richard's nyonya zhang 1

He makes them every year and I am indeed most flattered that without fail each passing year, he will never forget to remember me and is always kind enough to set aside some for this poor ol’ friend of his. Hehehehehe!!! It’s a leap year this year on the Chinese lunar calendar and as a result, there are two 4th Months…and the annual Dragon Boat or Zhang Festival on the 5th day of the 5th Month has been pushed back until a month later but Richard is making them earlier now that the school holidays are here.

These are different from the regular Chinese zhangs as they are a bit sweet and at the same time, savoury…and there is ketumbar (coriander) in them that gives them the special and delightful fragrance whereas for the ordinary bak zhangs, they would use five-spice powder instead. If I’m not mistaken, they would fry the coriander seeds and then pound/blend into powder to use as an ingredient in cooking the meat filling for the making of these zhangs. The glutinous rice is not dark too…

Richard's nyonya zhang 2

…as soy sauce is not used in the frying prior to the wrapping using bamboo leaves. The meat is not minced but instead, it must be cut into little cubes and the dried shitake mushrooms as well – hence, it can be quite tedious and would not be as easy as preparing the filling for the regular Chinese zhangs.

Most commercially-sold nyonya zhangs are wrapped in pandan (screwpine) leaves for the fragrance but if not kept in the fridge and eaten quickly, they will not last very long and will go bad pretty soon. According to Richard, these bamboo leaves have a special quality and the zhangs that are wrapped in these will last very much longer. Sometimes, he will put a piece of pandan leaf inside and at other times, he would use the pandan to wrap the zhang on the outside,the bamboo leaf inside. That, of course, would mean extra work in the already-very-tedious process of making the zhang. I would think that putting a lot of pandan leaves in the water while cooking the dumplings would probably suffice and would  serve to give them the much-desired fragrance and flavour.

We can’t buy this version of the zhang here in Sibu and we used to buy them from Kuching…and my brother, on the way back from New Zealand, would go all the way to Katong in Singapore to buy some to bring home but somehow, other than the fact that they were very expensive (those from Singapore, that is…especially after conversion), personally I did not think that they were all that nice – definitely not as nice as these…

Richard's nyonya zhang 3

…that Richard makes. Just look at that – it certainly looks good, doesn’t it?

Thanks so much, Richard. I really appreciate it…and yes, I will pass some to my mum who, I’m sure, will definitely love them a lot as well.

Richard's nyonya zhang 4

Ok, enough said! Time for me to get down to enjoying one or maybe, two… Yummmmm!!! LOL!!!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

30 thoughts on “I made it through the rain…”

  1. YaY it’s the time of the year again when I do not care 2 hoots about avoiding the calorie-filled starchy glutinuous goodness. Hopefully this year, I will finally succeed in wrapping my 1st beautiful and un-leaky zhang! Lolz
    Wish me luck! 😉

    Good luck! Do you make these nyonya ones or the regular Chinese zhangs?

    1. Ham yuk chung with salted egg yolk, chestnut and a piece of fatty pork. The art of wrapping is really difficult to obtain let alone master *haiz*. I love the nyonya ones too that my aunt used to make but she had just passed on 2 weeks ago. 😦

      Ever tried wrapping?

      Oh dear!!! So sorry to hear that, my sympathies. Your zhang is like my MIL’s ones. Of course, my missus will swear that her mum’s are better – she would say the nyonya ones not so nice (…but will eat also leh? Tsk! Tsk! LOL!!! :D) Yup, I tried wrapping when my mum used to do it – she prepared all the ingredients. Not bad, could get the feel of it…but no guarantee it would not come open when cooking. 😦 My mum’s also like that – some came apart and made such a mess. 😦

  2. sniff.. sniff.. *teary eyes* haha.. it’s ok.. stay strong, spaghetti day in day out is considered good.. sniff.. haha.. NICE wei ! when i go back, i am going to eat EVERYTHING i can lay my hands on.. oh yeah.. eating spreeeeee.. haha.. the bak zhang looks amazing!

    Mr. Richard made those… Yum! Yum! LOL!!! You’ll be home around the time of the festival…or you just missed it? The Borneo Cultural Festival is on this year – 6th-16th July, if I’m not mistaken. Will you be home in time to feast on all the local delicacies? Drool! Drool! LOL!!! 😀

    1. nope.. will only be back on friggin 1st of Aug.. ah.. no worries, i love the bak zhang they sell up at the Central Market (at a shop facing the parking lot)

      They’ve some pretty good ones at a shop round the corner from my house. – the Chinese zhangs, of course…with salted egg yolk. Will get some for you when you’re home. 😉

  3. oh so this dumpling reminds of that the dumplings festival is coming soon (right)?? hehe, and so does my lunar birthday.. my lunar birthday is the 1st of of the 5th month, just 4 days before the dumpling festivals.. looking forward to savor all those nice dumplings, yum yum~~

    Lucky you! If it had been the 4th Month, you would have aged two years in a matter of two months – celebrating your birthday twice. LOL!!! Whose dumplings? Anyone in your family making? Or you go and buy those commercially produced ones?

  4. Arthur, thanks for the compliment! Blushing with all the praises….
    there is another ingredient you forgot that is the sweetened winter melon strips which is also cut into cubes. It is indeed very tedious in preparation. The coriander seeds need to be washed first and dried under the sun before being fried. Then blend into powder and need to sieve again to get rid of the husks. And the verdict is ……..

    Ooooo…absolutely awesome!!! So very nice!…..Ok! Now keeping my fingers crossed, waiting for the 2nd batch. Hehehehehehehe!!!!! 😉

    Oh? I didn’t know about the winter melon – don’t think we added that in our family. I wouldn’t know anyway as I never helped. Blush! Blush! But I do know about the coriander part – very tedious… Unfortunately, it’s indispensible – in Kuching, some sell zhangs that look like nyonya zhang but no ketumbar. Where got the same? Not nice at all lah like that… 😦

  5. Yup .. Kuching Ba Zhang is use pandan leaves..
    it makes it more fragrant.. my colleague from Kuching and last year he brought some for me..
    I tried the Melaka nyonya ba zhang and they have some purple/blue colour on the bottom..
    Nice.. soon it will Ba Zhang festival..
    this year my MIL want to makes her own salty duck egg.. now it is in the process.. can’t wait for it….

    Yes, but those pandan-wrapped ones, if you do not put in the fridge and heat when you want to eat, 1 or 2 days, you will find that it had gone all sticky – spoilt already. Ya…the true-blue nyonyas will use the flower for the blue colour…and also for the serimuka and other nyonya kuihs as well – like nasi kerabu. I don’t mind streaks of blue, looks nice…but some dye the rice completely blue – kind of put off by that. Your MIL’s ones are the best? Ehem! Ehem! Poslaju…dijamin sampai hari esok. LOL!!!!

  6. So nice of your friend! 🙂
    The best bah chang I had so far are the ones from Penang… whitish in colour too and with lots of yellow beans inside.. next time when you go Penang, look out for them in Cintra Street near Penang Road… the shop sells bah chang and red beans soup (ang tau sar)… if not mistaken, they have yam cake there too…

    I checked out some blogs – it seems that the yam cake at New World is nicer. I had the yam cake there and also the Penang nyonya otak-otak – both nice. I did not try the fella’s zhang though – he said they’re Chinese zhang…not the nyonya type (plus he’s quite unfriendly. How to do business like that? Tsk! Tsk! 😦 ). The ones at Cintra also Chinese zhangs – I prefer the nyonya ones a lot more…

  7. Cannot help humming this Hokkien song “sio bak chang” when seeing the dumpling haha. Great spirit by Richard..rain or shine!

    I’m so blessed to have such great friends…like you also – Kajang, went all the way to Mid Valley…and spent the whole afternoon hanging around there with me, no matter how boring that was for you. So very nice… 😉

  8. So kind of Richard to brave the rain just to send the bak chang to you. Oh, he makes those bak chang. Looks great and yummyyyyyy!!!!!!…… I love to have one too, Richard, hehehehe. This year Dragon boat festival falls on 23rd June.

    Yes, he makes them himself…together with the mother. He said he was making them earlier as he wanted to bring to Kuching to give to people there – I think he is in Kuching enjoying himself right now. Hah!!! Too bad you’re not in Sibu or I could have given you one to try. 😉

  9. Wah! So fast already savour your favourite nyonya zhang!! More to come this week! hahahah.

    Actually, i “think” i have not try nyonya zhang before? So the other day i ask the lady where i order the nyonya zhang, what is the ingredient inside, she did tell me like what Richard said, she add winter melon strip inside, i am like, OH..then it will be sweet taste? hahahha

    This week, you’re going to try the KL version. 🙂

    Yup…it’s a bit sweet…and savoury…and fragrant with the ketumbar spice. I used to buy at Carrefour or Giant (Sg Wang) before – halal chicken ones, of course but they were very nice. Unfortunately, they no longer sell them…for quite sometime now and I do not know where to buy them anymore. Once I saw somebody selling some very big nice-looking zhangs outside a coffee shop at Paramount – I asked but he said his were all Chinese/Hokkien zhangs, not nyonya ones so I did not buy. 😦

  10. Looks like my recipe is the same as Richard’s..very tedious as everything need to be cut into small bits. Nowadays, the ones that is sold outside uses minced pork but makan tak sedap…berhampas. Looks like our supper will be Nyonya Chang…I freezed lots.

    Oh no! Oh no!!!!! Don’t touch them!!!! Save them for me…. I wanna eat when I go over – Shereen’s own original zhangs. Big or not? Hehehehehe!!!!

  11. I am surprised that you have many great friends cos you are one yourself. I am so glad my friend, Chris gave me some ba Chang she made before I left for my trip. I gave my mum one and I wallop the rest.

    Not surprised, you mean, Lucy? Hehehehehe!!!! 😉 How long will you be in the states? Back in time for the festival?

  12. Sobs….i yet to receive any bak zhang. Must go bodek Mamarazzi….ehehehheheh

    Hah!!! She’s already waiting for you to go and collect, lucky you!!! 😉

  13. Wahh…so fast we are talking about Bak Zhang edi..means, its already mid of the year!! So fast….BTW…I think I like most of the types of bak zhang…hehe

    Last time, I would eat only the nyonya ones as everyone in the family would make those. Not a fan of the Chinese zhangs…but now I’m ok with those as well – something like lor mai kai, as long as they’re generous with the filling…

  14. tengah boiling now…..the big baby calling out say 2 hrs liao…sibuk wanna eat BC…..hope jadi la coz usually first batch not that good.

    Hmmm next round wanna try make nyonya BC pulak

    That big baby – ask him to make lah! Only know how to eat! Hahahahahaha!!!! 😀 Yes, yes…try making nyonya zhang – if best, next time can make for me… Hehehehehe!!!! 😉

  15. Hi, wah…. so nice of Richard to send you the nyonya bak chang in the rain. You must be a great friend and a cute guy. 🙂 So you eat until smiling away and having sweet dream of the nyonya bak chang. The zhang look excellent.

    This nyonya chang is one of the best no doubt a lot of work to prepare but the end result is worth it.
    I personally will only eat nyonya bak chang, love the coriander seed and winter melon combination.

    Have a nice day, regards.

    Ah!!! Take it from one who knows – it certainly is nicer, isn’t it? Ya…these little blessings that come my way time and again do keep me going in my mundane life and I’m indeed most grateful for them.

  16. Bak chang…love them but can’t eat much. Gives me indigestion and a heartburn 😦

    Happens to some people that I know….but mostly, old people leh? 😉

  17. i also love these dumplings. You’re always so lucky to have people sending food to you! I’m so jealous.

    Bet you have lots of people giving you things too. Too bad I’m not in KL, otherwise I would do just that… 😉

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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