At Hakka Chan, we do not have to wait for Double 5 端午節, 5th Day of 5th Month according to Chinese Lunar Calendar or more popularly known as the Dragon Boat Festival to have Momsie’s delicious home made rice dumplings. Whenever we crave for it and she gets to hear it, we will find them on the dining table when we next return to Malacca.
Chinese Rice Dumplings have so many version and varieties. Many will argue to defend their favourites. I do not get personal about it because I am open to savour all kinds of composition. When I was younger, I used to be crazy over the Peranakan version. As I grow older, I found it too sweet for my liking. Mind you, there are communities that eat their savoury dumplings dipped into sugar. No kidding.
There are such thing as Hokkien, Teo Chew, Hakka or Cantonese Dumplings on the general. There would appear to be a certain rules on how they wrapped and common ingredients used. However, when you put 10 hakka families dumplings for comparisons, you will find variations unique to each family’s culture and history.
Our Hakka Chan rice dumpling recipe has evolved the last 50 years.
When Momsie married to dad, Grandma Chan was guardian to many of Hakka Chan’s recipes. She cooked her food very carefully and most times in favour of Grandpa Chan’s palate. Momsie told me she had never wrapped dumplings when she first stepped foot into the family. On her way work to the rubber plantations, she will gather as many bamboo leaves. She practised hundreds of times wrapping sand into those leaves as if they were dumplings.
Today, she is the new guardian of this Rice Dumpling recipe. She remembered when Grandpa Chan was alive, the two main ingredients for fillings were dried shrimps and pork belly. When he passed on, she has adapted the ingredients over the years based on the responses and feedback from her children. Coco dislikes the texture and smell of oyster, meanwhile Agnes finds that dried shrimps overpower the flavour and has a very sandy texture.
There are endless of combination of ingredients that one can introduced. Salted duck egg yolks, split mung beans, black eyed peas, sugared melon, dried shrimps, dried scallops etc.
At Hakka Chan, our dumplings are served in simplicity. Brought home a few for my parents to try. Dad said it was the simplest dumpling and the tastiest dumpling he ever had. Full of praise.
When choosing bamboo leaves, be mindful that there are size variations. Try to choose the larger ones for wrapping savoury dumplings and the smaller one for alkaline dumplings.
If you have time, soak those leaves overnight and there is no need to boil to soften them. Moreover, they retain a prettier green colour than the yellow hue of those boiled. However, in case of shortages, you may need to boil a few to supplement.
Shallots and garlic add flavour and aroma. Make sure that you do not over fry them as they can be bitter when overcooked.
Dried chestnuts adds flavour and sweetness to the dumpling. The powdery sweet nut somehow delights the palate in an interesting manner. Soak them overnight and with the tip of a sharp little knife, dig out the thin membrane stubbornly stuck on thin grooves. If you are short of time and do not have 4 to 6 hours to soak, boil them first to soften.
Choose mushrooms with thick succulent flesh. Soak for an hour and slice thinly.
FILLINGS of Random Chopped Meat – Chan Family Recipe
- 1 kg pork – shoulder part, cut into cubes and randomly chopped
- 15 pieces chinese dried mushroom (pre-soaked till soft and cut into cubes not more than 1 cm sides)
- 8 shallots (sliced thinly)
- 1 bulb garlic (sliced thinly)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons dark soya sauce
- 5 spice powder
- a tablespoon of oyster sauce (a great debate to drop this off)
- Liberal dashes of white pepper powder
- a dash of light soya sauce
- a little cornstarch with water to thicken excess gravy
- 3 tablespoon of oil for frying and cooking
- Marinate random chopped shoulder port with salt, 5 spice powder, 2 teaspoon of salt,
- Heat up 4 tablespoons of cooking oil in wok and fry the other half of garlic and shallots till aromatic. Drain and keep aside. Keep oil.
- Trim soaked mushrooms into small thin slices. Drain all excess oil. Add a tsp of sugar and a tablespoon of oyster sauce. Mix well.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of oil from frying shallots and garlic into a wok. Fry mushroom till fragrant.
- Add pork and fry meat over medium heat. Add salt, light and dark soya sauce. Liberal dashes of white pepper powder. Stir and fry till pork is cooked. Pour in cornstarch paste to thicken the fillings.
- Add fried shallots and fried garlic. Mix thoroughly.
- Keep remaining fried garlic and fried shallot oil to fry glutinous rice.
- Set aside and cool.
- 1 kg glutinous rice (washed, pre-soaked for 4 to 6 hours and drained)
- 3 tablespoon oil balance from frying shallots and garlic
- light soya sauce
- dark soya sauce
- Pour 3 tablespoons of remaining oil into wok.
- Pour in drained glutinous rice.
- Add salt, light and dark soya sauce.
- Fry for 10 to 15 minutes and it cool before you start wrapping.
- Organise rice, meat filling and chestnuts for wrapping.
- Boil Rice Dumplings for 3 hours completely submerged and covered. For best results, use a charcoal stove. For quick cooking, use a pressure cooker and boil for approximately 30 to 40 minutes on pressure.
Ah Na’s mother who is visiting her grandchildren in Kuala Lumpur during this school holidays dropped by Agnes’s place this afternoon. They came with their fusion Hakka and Hainanese rice dumpling made from mince meat. Momsie was delighted to have friends from Tanjong Minyak dropping by to share some gossip over coffee.
Wrapping rice dumpling can be a quite a messy task. It requires a certain skill that I obviously am lacking at the moment. Our visitors were uncomfortable seeing Agnes wrapping all alone. Before we knew it, Ah Na and her mom were all busy helping out to wrap our dumplings. A most welcome gesture and as a token, Momsie gave them half a dozen of our delicious Hakka Chan Rice Dumplings.