Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Making chinese rice dumpling (bak chang)

The dumpling festival aka 'chung chit' is around the corner. Since my brother was going back to Singapore after his visit, my mom decided to make a few (...actually, much more than a few) chung for his to take back home and to my auntie’s family.

FYI, 'chung', in Cantonese is Chinese Rice Dumplings. The Hokiens call it 'chang', or 'bak chang' for meat dumplings. There are many variations of chung that can be found. The 'pillow chung' is rectangle and flat like a pillow, the 'nyonya chung' which may or may not contain any content. The rice of the nyonya chung is some part bluish because of a type of flower used with the rice. If the nyonya chung is with filling, it is usually filled with something a little spicy like spicy 'heh bee' (small dried shrimps) or spicy groundnut mixture. There's also the mini chung which is yellow in colour called the 'kan sui chung'. Kan Sui chung is made using alkaline water and the glutinous rice. Taste really nice if eaten with sweet dips like kaya, jam, syrup or honey. Last but not least, there's the typical triangle chung. Depending on the maker of the chung, you can find many different ingredients in it from all meat to all vegetarian beans.

Some people pay up to RM15 for one chung (make by *ahem* well known restaurants) but seriously, if it's good, it's worth the money because making them takes a long time and a lot of hassle.

Ingredients and preparations:

- 'lap cheong' Chinese pork sausages, sliced
- salted duck egg yokes, cut into quarters/halves

Whole salted duck egg. It usually come covered with a later of mud and charcoal powder.

Salted egg yoke

This is how the yoke looks like then the process of salting the egg is not complete. Still can be eaten.

Preparation 1: Chang leafs
1. Boil leafs for 2 to 3 hours and let it soak for another 30 to 40 minutes or until water cools down.
2. Remove and wipe leafs individually with a wet cloth (under running water) to remove the dirt.
3. Dry leafs with a damp cloth when ready to be use.

Chung leafs and dried grass when it is still dry.

Chang leafs boiling.

Preparation 2: Marinate pork
- 1kg pork, cut to cubes
- 2 tbsp foo yui (red bean curt)
- 2 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tbsp five spice powder
- 2 tsp pepper
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let to marinate for 3 to 4 hours.
*Note: Add more rice wine if marinate is too dry, but not over use the rice wine. There is no need for salt as 'foo yui' is already very salty.
2. When ready, fry pork until cook and fragrant.

Pork cut into cubes. Remember to sharpen your knife first. I had a "wonderful" time chopping mine up with a "really sharp" knife.

Pork ready to be marinated.

Preparation 3: Glutinous rice
- 3 kg pulut rice (glutinous rice), pre wash and soaked for 5 hours
- 'hak yau' black sauce, according to taste
- 1 handful 'hou see' dried oyster, chopped
- 3 tbsp garlic
- 3 tbsp shallots
- 5 tbsp five spice powder, stirred in water
- rice wine
1. In a wok, heat oil and stir fry garlic, shallots and hou see until fragrant.
2. Add rice and continue to fry for 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add black sauce and five spice powder and continue to fry for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Add rice wine and continue to fry until fragrant. Add black sauce, 5 spice powder or rice wine to taste. Continue to fry until rice is dry, oily and fragrant.


Preparation 4: Fry Heh Bee
- 1 handful heh bee, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1. Stir fry shallot and garlic until fragrant.
2. Mix heh bee and continue to stir fry until fragrant and golden brown.

Scallops and heh bee.

Preparation 5: Green beans
- 2 tbsp chicken stock
- 1kg de-skin green beans
1. Fry green beans with oil until fragrant.
2. Add chicken stock and continue to stir fry until fragrant and equally mixed.

De-skinned green beans.

Preparation 6: To stir fry:
- scallops
- fong lut, pre washed and soaked for 3 hours
- Chinese mushroom, pre washed, stem removed and soaked until soft
- Bailing mushroom, sliced
- 'hou see' dried oyster, sliced or whole
1. Add oil to wok and stir fry with garlic until fragrant.
*You can do this together, or stir fry the ingredients separately

Bailing mushroom in a can.

Dried hou see, washed and ready to be sliced.

Dried mushrooms, soaking.

Fong lut

Okay, when you have all that prepared, it's time for you to fill the leafs with rice and the fried ingredients. How? For that, I have recorded a video starring non other that my mom. The file is big, so be patient. =)


1. Take 2 chang leafs and shape a cone out of it.
2. Fill the bottom and sides with rice and hollow the center.
3. Fill up the hole with all the ingredients and with a little more rice, cover the top.
4. Press and compact the con and wrap and fold the remaining of the leafs.
5. Secure with string.
6. Boil the chung for 2 to 2 and a half hours according to the size of the chung.

At the end of the day... I mean after 30 minutes and 4 + 1 chang, my mom shooo'ed me off because I was disturbing her more than helping out with the wrapping of the chang. LOL! But I think I did not bad for a first timer.

The chung that I have made. Out of shape but at least they didn't burst open while it was boiling in the water.

Mom's finished bak chang.

I had 2 of these for breakfast. *burb*

Leave me a comment if you have any questions...... or if you need a lesson from my mom, I think she can be hired HAHAHA. Have fun!

Edit [21 May 2006]: My mom made some other types of chung today and I though it would be nice to put up some more pictures.

With the mushroom stem, she pounded and marinated it. She shaped it into smalll flat round pieces and fried it. She used that to replace the pork for a vegetarian style chung. She also added fried groundnuts, kidney beans, de-skinned green beans and a few types of mushrooms with the vegetarian chung.

She also made my great grand mother's Hakka mix Hokkien chung recipe with contain fried groundnuts bits with herbs and spices. This is something like the Nyonya chung except this one is not spicy and much more fragrant. The rice for this chung is also cooked different, there is no need to fry the rice before it is wrap, and the colour of the chung will be white, not darks as no black sauce is used.

I managed to find the Kan Sui Chung (alkaline chung) too, my mom didn't make them. They usually come in small sizes. As you can see in the pictures, it's about a quater of a normal chung.

I'm still looking for the pillow chung, I got to know it is called the Shang Hai Chung. I think I shall head to the night market today to see if any are sold.

Edit [17 June 2007]: Added a new chung post here.

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35 pieces of worms:


Where are the big ones? Those pillow case style.


*slurp* bak chang... i like!


multidimid: my mom didnt make the pillow case style types... but i'll see if i can get a picture up

jin: my mom ask u to come over to makan. She made a few more types today. Vegetarian, the groudnut nyonya and the pork with 2 different beans.


I'm boiling some 'chung' right now, and I was just searching for info about chung's... and found your site! Aaaw I wish I found this site earlier! I've never made chung before and I was trying to find recipes... anyway, thanks for this post - the video is awesome! :D


chokorate: Dont give up the wraping part the first time... it takes time to learn the technique .... i only manage to make an ok one after my 7th try! LOL! Have fun with the chungs!

Lee Ping

Dear Teckiee,

This is perhaps the most comprehensive post on Bah Chang. Good work and thanks for sharing!!


Go video on the wrapping of the chang. Just want to ask about the prepartion for the dried grass for the tying of the chang. Do I have to boil them too together with the Chang leave? If I use fresh Chang leave what preparation work do I have to do with it?


Lee ping: Thanks =) My mom makes chung but this is my first time to sit it for all the steps.

Anonymous: Yes, you do have to boil them with the leaves to soften the strings. Not sure about the fresh ones tho. Just clean them first before using. And if the fresh ones tear too easily, I suggest you use the dried ones as it's much tougher.


hey just to let u know i add your link in my blog entry about rice dumpling 'ba zhang' .. your entry is fantastic:)


my other food blog but seldom update le. u can drop by. thanks



aki: I just drop by... durian and chung? hahahahah thats a combo! Check out my new post on chung below.


Hey! Thanks for the info & the video! When I was really young (a long time ago), I used to watch my grandmother make chung. I love that stuff and as an adult, found other women who makes them and buy them by the dozens. The chung freezes well but not quite as good as fresh. I've always wanted to make them but my mom said it was too much work. I'm going to make them myself.



lavender: have fun making them! and good luck with the wrapping. My first few was all out of shape but practice makes perfect =)


Thank you so much for taking the time to show us how to wrap a bak chang. The step by step detail is really great as I have never done it before. No matter how much I read the instructions in a recipe, it is still complicated. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so now I have a good idea of how to wrap a dumpling. Thank you...


Yeah! Great description! i'm making this for my girlfriend tonight! You rock!


Elizabeth: ahhh i thinl i will never figure how to wrap something with only reading text.

nick: wahhh so sweetttt. good luck with the wrapping!


By any chance would you like to contribute a recipe to my new blog, Your Recipes?

I am trying to get it off the ground here, and I LOVE what you have on your blog. Thanks!


Hi this is the most wonderful Bak Chang recipe I ever seen. It makes me think of my aunty's bak chang. I never make change before, I always wanted to try. But have been looking for Chang recipe and method of wrapping the chang. Thanks so much for the recipe and effort.


anna: Sure. I'll register and publish soon =)

Anonymous: =) You are most welcome.


thanx this helped me A LOT!!
it is realy detailed


Ohh How Long Do You Need to Boil it Water When its in the Chang Leaves?


About 2 hours. If your chang is big, boil for about 2.5 hours.


Thank you very much for the recipe and most important of all the Video of how to wrap the Bak Chang. It was my 1st time making Bak Chang and successful wrapping (none burst) thanks to your video. thank you thank you thank you


Thanks, it helps and I have made a simple version at http://jiachangcai.blogspot.com/2009/05/rice-dumpling.html.


Thanks this looks yummy. I went for a bak chang class recently and the guy said to use unsalted butter to fry the rice. However I find the smell of the butter too strong. What type of oil should I use instead? Also why is my rice so sticky after frying? Should I use less water or is it the butter or did u cook for too long? I also soaked it for way more than 5 hours could that be the problem? Help! Am now stuck with a whole bunch of bak changs that taste of butter :(


smallkucing: yay! I'm glad none of them burst =)

homecookedrecipe: Thanks for linking me =)

Yvonne: Hm.. i'm not sure why he suggested to use unsalted butter... just use any normal vegetable oil. I don't think over soaking the rice will make it sticky when you fry. Try using higher heat when you fry and skip the butter.


Thank you. I'm trying my 2nd batch tonight. Do I need to add water when frying the rice? How do I know when to stop frying the rice?


Yvonne: Good luck =) Nope. Don't add water. Drain the water as much as possible. You can stop frying when the rice is dry and not sticking to each other. Add oil (better still if shallot oil) bit by bit if the rice is too sticky. The key is not to cook the rice when you fry it.. only cook the rice during the boiling period.


Thanks again. So happy to have online help for my bak chang attempt :) I just fried my rice and it's still sticky :( I think because I didn't drain water properly. Put it in the fridge hopefully it becomes better. It's definitely not cooked cos it's still hard on the inside. You think it'll work? Also any tips on tying? Mine tends to unravel


Yvonne: Hmm it's sticky and not slimy right? if it's slimy then the rice is spoilt. If it's sticky still... try to not to fry it for too long. I got the feeling the outside layer is cooked. If that is the case, you don't have to boil your Chung for too long.

On the tying part, does it unravel when you are boiling it? ..or after you tie? If it breaks when you are boiling it.. take care of the edges when you are tying. Try not to stuff too much ingredients and rice in it too.. leave some space for the rice to "grow/cook". If it unravels anytime before that... practise makes perfect ;p


Hi! I made some chung using your recipe as a guide today. They turned out quite well, I was happy none of them burst open when boiling. But at the end of the cooking time, the water I used to boil was light brown in colour. Is that normal or is it supposed to remain clear? I am wondering if it became brown because I didn't wrap it well enough and the dark soy sauce added to the rice seeped out and made the water brownish. They tasted okay overall but the rice could have been a little saltier. So I wanted to know if it's because I under salted it to begin with or that I didn't wrap properly and all the flavour seeped out. Thanks for any input.


S.W: You are doing everything right..dont worry about the brown water ..its normal to get grey to brown (and a oily) water after boiling. If the rice is not salty enough, just add salt into your boiling water or when you are frying the rice. But be really really careful with the salt. You dont want to end up with too salty chungs.


Hi teckiee,

Thanks for your advice. I am glad to know that it is not because of my wrapping skills. I will try to taste the rice as I fry next time to ensure its saltiness. Thanks for your recipe! :)


Hi teckiee,

I had a Chinese friend visiting to whom I served a traditional Mexican Christmastime meal - tamales (homemade at my mom's house). And she said they reminded her of bak chang. I didn't know what that was so I looked it up and came upon your blog. From your pictures and description - Mexican tamales are very much like Chinese bak chang, however we use a corn flour (called masa harina) instead of sticky rice. And the wrapper is dried corn husks that must also be soaked in water to soften. The filling is usually a marinated pork in spicy chile sauce but I've eaten many variations (my favorite is cheese and spicy green chile sauce with jalapenos & tomatillos). Thank you for sharing! You are right - these are a lot of hard work to prepare, that's why we only make them once a year for the holidays.

Bali Tour

nice food
thank you for the recipe

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