The other day I was handed a little leaf wrapped parcel by a friend of mine, saying: “here, you’ll like this…. “
And me (not owning a verbal filter sometimes…..) saying, hmmm, thanks, but eh its evening, why are you handing me breakfast?
(I was referring to Nasi Lemak a dish wrapped in pandang leaves and mainly taken for breakfast in Malaysia)
My friend laughed and said “noooooooo its not that… its something else completely…it’s a very traditional Chinese dish…”
“Its something called BakChang” and she proceeded to tell me the story of Qu Yuan a famous poet during the Chu Dynasty as legend goes (according to various sources on the interweb and of course my friend who gave me one of these)
The Bak Chang is a traditional Chinese rice dumpling usually available around the time of Dragon Boat Festival.
Like many Chinese festivals and their associated foodie traditions, there is also a legend surrounding the origin of this yummy food.
The story goes that Qu Yuan tried to warn the King and his fellow countrymen of the expansion of the neighbouring Qin kingdom, with little success.
When the capital of the Chu kingdom fell to a Qin general, the patriotic Qu Yuan was supposedly so overcome with grief that he drowned himself in the Miluo River. The Chu people threw packets of rice (the Bak Chang ) in to the river to keep the fish from feeding on the poet’s body. (i have also heard a version where it was meant for feeding him in the afterlife..)
Bak Zhang or Zhongzi as they are known today, are made with glutinous rice with a variety of filling, then wrapped in bamboo leaves, bound and tied together in a bundle and consumed once a year on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.
Although I was out by the exact day I was still in on the exact week, and went to try this last night…
As you can see it looks kinda lush, and that it was…
Quite filling.... that’s the glutinous rice itself I guess.. but very flavoursome and tasty….
Bring on next year