The 5th…

It’s the 3rd of June today, the 5th Day of the 5th Month in the Chinese Lunar Year, the day of the Double Fifth or the Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival (端午節), fondly known as the Chang or Dumpling Festival. The Chinese eat zongzi or chang on this special day because they are considered a symbol of luck, as the pronunciation of zong is very similar to the pronunciation of zhong (中). This character has a positive connotation, used in words such as 中奖 (winning a prize).

I found this piece of information from this website rather interesting. During the early hot days of summer, people would easily fall ill and epidemics spread. This made the month seem evil, so people in ancient times regarded it as an important time to prevent diseases and keep evil spirits away. Therefore, the Dragon Boat Festival was originally regarded as a traditional medical and health festival. It is traditionally a festival for people to ceremonially come against diseases and poisonous insects. As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world, this year’s Dragon Boat Festival has a renewed focus on health.

Well, every year, since time immemorial, my very dear friend, Richard, would make his own homemade nyonya chang and he would always give me some. This was last year, 2021 and this was in 2020 and in 2019 and yes, he does it without fail year after year after year. My mum used to make them but these days, unless Richard makes and gives us some or we manage to get some from Kuching…or Singapore, we would not get to enjoy this special Peranakan version of the meat dumpling.

Earlier this year, however, I received word from Richard informing me that he would not be making any as his mum said they would give this year a skip owing to the outbreak of the swine fever that day. I was thinking that perhaps I could just go and buy one or two from the neighbourhood shops or from here to eat so as to uphold and preserve the tradition, our heritage.

Before I got down to doing that, my sister gave me some very nice ang tao chang (red bean dumplings)…

…that she got from her cleaner. They were very nice, no alkaline water (kee) so they were white…

…not yellow or orange and not jelly like as in kee chang (碱水粽/枧水粽). I thought they tasted like basong, the Malay pulut/glutinous rice delight that I like a lot…

I decided to save them for the actual day of the festival so I just stuffed all of them in the fridge – I guess it would not matter one bit if it was red bean…

…not meat dumplings.

Much to my surprise, the other day, however, Richard appeared out of the blue at my gate with these, his nyonya dumplings…

…for 2022! He said that his mum had a change of heart and gave the green light so he made some and went round distributing to family and friends.

There were two, tied with string…

Richard said that those were chicken and of course, I could not resist taking those out the very next morning to steam and heat them up…

…to enjoy and appease my craving!

Yes, as always, never mind whether it was chicken or pork…

…it was so so so good with the fragrance and taste of the ketumbar (coriander) plus the slight sweetness of the other ingredients in the generally savoury filling.

I had to resist the temptation to heat up some more to eat and thankfully, I was able to control myself so I do have some today that I can heat up and enjoy…

…to observe this age-old traditional Chinese practice during this time of year.

I hope you all have some at hand, never mind if you made them yourselves or bought them from somewhere or some good friend gave them to you. Thank you so much, Richard, for the ones that I shall be enjoying today…and to all of us celebrating this auspicious occasion, a very Happy & Blessed Duanwu or Dragon Boat Festival! May all of us be abundantly blessed with good health and good fortune!