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Hokkien Bak Chang (Zhong Zi or Glutinous Rice Dumpling)

There are different types of Bak Chang from various dialect groups. Most common ones are Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Hainanese and Nyonya. This is my version of the Hokkien Bak Chang which has pork belly, chestnuts, dried shrimps, mushrooms and salted eggs. I used a pressure cooker for this recipe to shorten the cooking time from around 2.5 hrs to 45 mins.

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YouTube link: https://youtu.be/rSFq1ifRVB4

Hokkien Bak Chang

Makes about 24  pieces

Course: Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Chinese
Keyword: Hokkien Bak Chang
Author: Shiokman Eddie
Ingredients
OVERALL INGREDIENTS NEEDED:
  • 60 – 70 bamboo leaves
  • 30 straw strings
  • 1 kg Pork belly
  • 1 kg Glutinous rice
  • 200 g Dried Prawns 100 g fried, 100 g grounded
  • 300 g Dried Chestnuts without skin
  • 120 g Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 12 Salted Eggs optional
  • 350 g Shallots 100 g sliced and 250 g chopped
  • 300 g Garlic chopped
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3 Star anise
  • Five Spice powder
  • Pepper
  • Light soya sauce
  • Dark soya sauce
  • Concentrated chicken stock
  • Shaoxing wine
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cooking oil
FILLINGS
Seasonings for braised pork (Overnight)
  • 1 kg pork belly cut into small pieces
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp five spice powder
  • 2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
Braised Mushrooms, chestnuts, dried prawns
  • 100 g dried prawns fried
  • 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 3 Tbsp chopped shallots
  • 120 g dried shiitake mushrooms soaked
  • 1 Tbsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1.5 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 200 g dried chestnuts boiled and peeled
  • Water from soaked dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 8 shallots sliced thinly and fried (For final assembly)
Spices for cooking braised pork
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp chopped garlic
  • 4 – 6 Tbsp chopped shallots
Rice
  • 1 kg glutinous rice soaked and drained
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp shallot oil
  • 3 Tbsp chopped shallot
  • 100 g grounded dried prawns
  • 1 Tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp concentrated chicken stock
  • 2 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 100 ml mushroom water
Instructions
Preparation
  1. Boil bamboo leaves and strings for about 30 mins.Remove the strings and soak the leaves overnight. Rinse the strings and leaves before using.
  2. Marinate pork belly and keep overnight in the fridge.
  3. Wash and soak dried chestnuts overnight. Remove any remaining skin with a toothpick. Boil for about 25 minutes to soften.
  4. Wash and soak dried shiitake mushrooms for at least 3 hours
  5. Fry thinly sliced shallots (about 100 g) on medium heat until golden brown. Set aside fried shallots and the shallot oil.
  6. Chop garlic and shallots.
  7. Soak glutinous rice for at least 2 hrs.
  8. Drain and rinse glutinous rice.
FILLINGS
Braised Mushrooms, Chestnuts, Dried Prawns
  1. Wash and sauté dried prawns until crispy.
  2. Add chopped garlic, shallots, mushrooms, pepper, light and dark soy sauce and mix all the ingredients well
  3. Add boiled chestnuts (200 g), mushroom water and stir fry. Set aside 100 g chestnuts for final assembly.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings according to preference.
  5. Remove and set aside to cool.
Braised Pork
  1. Sauté cinnamon sticks, star anise, chopped garlic and shallots briefly.
  2. Add the marinated pork belly and mix everything well together. Add some water.
  3. Cover and simmer over medium heat for about 40 minutes till cooked (but not too soft as the pork will cook further when dumplings are boiled).
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference. Seasonings have to be strong as they will be diluted through the boiling of the dumplings.
  5. Remove and set aside to cool.
Rice:
  1. Stir fry finely chopped shallots and pounded dried shrimps in a pan of shallot oil.
  2. Drain the soaked white glutinous rice and add to the pan. Mix well.
  3. Pour the seasoning and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.
  4. Remove and set aside to cool.
FINAL ASSEMBLY:
  1. Take 2 bamboo leaves and wipe dry with a cloth.
  2. Use the smooth side of the leaves to wrap the rice and fillings.
  3. Fold into a cone shape and put in 1 Tbsp rice and lightly press to sides with a spoon. Put in the fillings, ie pork belly, mushroom, chestnut, dried prawns, salted egg (optional) and some fried shallots. Put in 1.5 Tbsp of rice and compress with a spoon.
  4. Fold over the bamboo leaves forming a pyramid shape. Make sure that the 2 sides (‘wings’) of the leaves fully enclose the dumpling and form a tight seal. The 2 ‘wings’ must be firmly tucked against the sides of the dumpling to prevent leakage.
  5. Hold the dumpling firmly (with the 2 ‘wings’ locked in position) and tie the dumpling with the straw string tightly. Check that the 2 ‘wings’ are safely tied in position. Double knot the string.
Cooking Stage
  1. Put the dumplings in a pressure cooker pot of boiling water and cover and lock into place. Make sure that the water level is above the dumplings.
  2. Cook in the pressure cooker for about 45 minutes.
  3. Slowly release the pressure before unlocking the cover
  4. Take out one dumpling to test for doneness.
  5. Remove from the pot and hang to drip dry or place on a wire rack to dry before serving.
Recipe Notes

Tips:

  1. It is good to prepare the fillings in advance and refrigerate them. Preparation work (peeling onions, garlics, cleaning and soaking leaves, etc) should preferably start 1 to 2 days before the actual wrapping and boiling of the dumplings. This will ensure that you do not get tired out from the dumpling making session. It will also give you time to practise and make sure that the dumplings are tightly and securely wrapped to prevent leakage.
  2. If you are new to making dumplings, start with wrapping small ones first. As you practise more, you could progress to making bigger dumplings.
  3. You actually need about 50 leaves. But I suggest to stand by extra leaves (about 10 – 20 pcs) as some may have to be discarded if there are holes or defects. You may need extra leaves for practice.
  4. If you run out of leaves, you could try steaming some in ramekins or wrap some in banana leaves.
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