Tomorrow is bak chang festival. Bak = pork. Chang = dumpling.
It is some Chinese mythical celebration, base mostly on tradition than any religious background. The story I heard is this scholar who was drown in the river and the people were afraid his body will be eaten by the fishes before they found him. So, these people threw this meat dumpling into the river to feed the fishes (lucky fishes, I tell you!) so that they can fish the corpse of the scholar out of the water in whole and not left skeletons. I don’t know if they did found the corpse. ‘Cos I was too busy eating bak chang myself to care.
When my mom was alive, she made the most delicious, sinful and absolutely yummy bak chang on earth. I used to help her peel those dang chestnuts and its brownish, bitter shells. Then, when I was older, I helped her to fry the glutinous rice with lots of garlic, shallots, dark soya sauce, oyster sauce and five spice powder.
So, in theory, I know how to make bak chang. But physically, I have never wrapped one before because my mom was such a nag. My two older sisters who are 10 years and 14 years older than me used to get drilled by mom. “It’s too tight, it’s too loose, too tight, the rice will swell and burst, too loose the rice will be mushy, you forget the salted eggs, remember to dip your hand into the water after you touched the rice, you pull the string like this…bla bla bla…” So, I was smarter. I go play far-far. She would nag throughout the whole process, from morning till night (when the bak changs are cooked)!
Moreover, the bak changs my mom made were enough to last us for days as breakfast, lunch and dinner. She used the fattest belly pork and the fats just melt in the mouth. And bak chang festival is always around the same time as durians season. So, every May/June/July means I will put on weight because of over indulgence in these two things. That’s why I never want to make bak changs because I have my supplies from my eldest sister already. It is never as good as mom made but it is better than those we buy. If I were to make my own, it means even more eating.
My sister used black eye peas, dried oyster, dried shrimps, chestnuts, salted duck egg yolks, Chinese dried mushroom and pork. Hehehe, like my mom would say, she did not fill it with enough rice so the middle is a bit ‘loose’ after I cut into it. But still, I have homemade bak changs.
Now, what I want is some kee chang. It is those yellow variety. Burpppp…..