BAK CHANG

Traders en­joy brisk busi­ness sell­ing dumplings

New Straits Times - - News - BALVIN KAUR

balvinkaur@nst.com.my

THE Dumpling Fes­ti­val is widely cel­e­brated by the Chi­nese com­mu­nity de­spite the chang­ing times.

This is ev­i­dent from the high de­mand for the dumpling known as “bak chang”, which is made of gluti­nous rice with fill­ings of wa­ter chest­nuts, Chi­nese black mush­rooms, cooked peanuts and dried shrimp or meat, wrapped in bam­boo leaves be­fore it is steamed.

Cheah Soo Xi, 62, who has been sell­ing bak chang from her house in Air Itam for the past 20 years, said she re­ceived a lot of or­ders for the dumplings dur­ing the fes­ti­val ev­ery year.

“I usu­ally sup­ply bak chang to a few stalls near my house but dur­ing the Dumpling Fes­ti­val, I have so many or­ders that I can­not sup­ply to the stalls.

“Most of the or­ders come from my reg­u­lar cus­tomers and some­times from other peo­ple,” she told the yes­ter­day.

Cheah said she woke up early yes­ter­day to pre­pare fresh dumplings.

“All my ingredients are fresh and nat­u­ral as my grand­mother and mother had taught me.

“Even the blue colour of the gluti­nous rice is from nat­u­ral ingredients,” she said.

A bak chang seller in Le­buh Cin­tra here, Lor Kah Fai, said he had also been in­un­dated with or­ders a week ahead of the fes­ti­val.

“To­day (yes­ter­day), I also re­ceived a lot of walk-in cus­tomers,” he said.

Mean­while, lawyer Ali­cia Lee, 31, said she and her fam­ily had al­ways ob­served the fes­ti­val.

“It has al­ways been a tra­di­tion in my fam­ily to gather and eat bak chang to­gether.

“We are a fam­ily of food and bak chang lovers, so ev­ery year we try to have bak chang from dif­fer­ent places and with dif­fer­ent ingredients.

“This year, as there was a re­cent fam­ily wed­ding cer­e­mony, we de­cided to splurge on a RM410 two-kilo­gramme Abalone King Bak Chang,” she said.

The Dumpling Fes­ti­val falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lu­nar cal­en­dar ev­ery year, earn­ing its other name, the Dou­ble Fifth Fes­ti­val.

It is a cel­e­bra­tion Malaysians will as­so­ciate most with the dragon boat races, held pri­mar­ily in Pe­nang, hence its al­ter­nate name of the Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val.

The fes­ti­val is be­lieved to have orig­i­nated dur­ing the Warring States pe­riod in China when beloved govern­ment of­fi­cial and poet, Qu Yuan, drowned him­self in the Miluo River af­ter his coun­try fell into en­emy hands.

Dis­traught vil­lagers raced out in their boats to sal­vage his body and that is said to be the origin of the dragon boat races.

The same vil­lagers also took to throw­ing dumplings into the river in hopes that the fish would eat the food in­stead of Qu Yuan’s body.

De­spite a rather mor­bid be­gin­ning, the fes­ti­val is cel­e­brated with great fes­tiv­i­ties, dragon boat races and eat­ing of dumplings.

PIC BY MIKAIL ONG

Lor Kah Fai ar­rang­ing an as­sort­ment of freshly pre­pared rice dump­ings at his shop in Ge­orge Town yes­ter­day.

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