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It’s that time of the month again, for you know it! Another round of International Incident Party hosted by Jeroxie!

This month’s challenge, to recreate nostalgia… not an easy feat I tell you as I have so many favourite childhood foods… that it was extremely hard to pick one!

Luckily for me, the Boy was hungering for Bak Chang, a traditional Chinese food… glutinous rice with pork belly, salted duck egg yolk, chestnuts, black eye beans… should I go on?

Bak Chang or Ba Chang is a term used by the Hokkien dialect. You may know this dish as Zong or Zong Zi. You can read more about the history of Zong Zi here.

When I was young and growing up with my grandparents, this would be my one comfort food shared between my gong gong (grandpa) and me. We’d sit back at the dining table and I’d imitate him (for I worshiped him)…

He would take out a big bak chang, and cut up a tiny portion for me on my little plate and hand me a fork. Spoilt? You can say that, I was the youngest and favourite grandchild 😛 Still am… hahaha

Together, we would doused the bak chang with white pepper and light soy sauce, mash it up and gleefully eat it.

Then he would get up, make a strong cup of black coffee, pour a tiny portion for me as well… I felt so grown up…

Thinking back on this, my heart just wants to burst!

My grandpa is turning 90 this year… and he still loves his bak chang! I just bought him some when I went home to Malaysia last weekend. He was very thrilled!!

So, when anyone ever mentions bak chang, it always brings me back to my younger days, when my gong gong and I would sit and eat, without a care in the world whilst the women of the household pottered around us…

So when the Boy proposed he make this favourite dish (I give him all the credit, for I was not around for this entire process)… I smiled with a little tear in my eye, for he had something so close to my heart…

So here it goes …


For the Rice
300g Glutinous rice (soaked in water overnight – roughly 8-10 hrs)
2 tbsp Light soy sauce
1 tbsp Thick soy sauce
2 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Five spice powder
1 tbsp White pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
50g Black eye beans
2 pcs Garlic cloves (diced)
1 pc Pandan leaf (knotted) – optional
*Please note: adjust above ingredients according to preferred taste

For the Filling
2 pcs Garlic cloves (diced)
5 pcs Dried Chinese mushrooms (large sized) – rehydrated in hot water, stem removed and quartered
15-20 pcs Dried shrimp (medium sized) – washed and dried
10-12 pcs Dried chestnuts
5 pcs Salted duck egg yolk – cut into halves
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tbsp Light soy sauce
1 tsp Thick soy sauce
1 tsp Five spice powder
1 tsp White pepper
1 pc Pandan leaf (knotted) – optional
40-50ml Water
*Please note: adjust above ingredients according to preferred taste

For the Pork Belly Marinate (marinate overnight in refrigerator)
250g Pork belly (sliced to bite size chunks)
1 tsp Five spice powder
1 tbsp Thick soy sauce
1 tbsp Oyster sauce
1 tsp Shao Xing wine (chinese rice wine)
1 tsp White pepper
1/4 tsp Salt
*Please note: adjust above ingredients according to preferred taste

10-14 pcs of Large Bamboo leaves or 20-26 pcs Small Bamboo leaves (washed under running water, wiped, and fully submerged in water until required. Check that they are soft before using them)
Raffia string or any other appropriate string
3-4 Pandan leaves (cut into 5-6cm pieces – lengthwise)
Large stock pot (large enough to fit dumplings)


Boil some water in a small pot. Add the chestnuts into the pot and after 2 minutes, add the black eye beans into the same pot. Remove them from the pot once they are half cooked.

RICE: Heat some oil in a wok and stir fry garlic till fragrant. Drain the rice and add it into the wok. Give it a quick stir. Add in the Light soy sauce, Thick soy sauce, Oyster sauce and Five spice powder. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes and add in the Black eye beans, Salt, Pepper and Pandan leaf. Stir fry ingredients till fragrant and dish them out into a large bowl.

FILLING: Heat some oil in the same wok and stir fry garlic and dried shrimp till fragrant. Add pork belly, mushrooms and chestnuts into the wok and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the Oyster sauce, Light soy sauce, Thick soy sauce, Five spice powder, White pepper, and Pandan leaf. Add some water and stir fry for at least 8 minutes or until dry. Dish filling out and place in a large bowl.

Wrapping the dumplings requires some practice. Delicious Asian Food provides a great video on wrapping bak chang. It involves folding two bamboo leaves into the shape of a cone and filling it with the rice-bean mixture, pork belly, quarter of a mushroom, 1 chestnut, 1-2 dried shrimps, half of the salted duck egg yolk and topped with more rice to cover them. Place one 5-6cm pandan leaf inside the cone and fold the bamboo leaves to close the opening and wrap it around. Wrap the raffia string securely around the dumpling to avoid any unfolding when boiling.

Put all dumplings into a large stock pot of boiling water. Ensure that they are fully submerged in the water to avoid uneven cooking. It takes about 1.5 – 2 hrs to cook. (Note: Using a pressure cooker will half the cooking time). Leave the dumplings to dry once they are cooked (the rice should be soft and sticky once cooked).

We used fresh vacuum packed bamboo leaves (hence the greener colour) which were relatively smaller than the dried ones. Our bak chang turned out to be mini bak changs and we had about 10-12 of them.

And there you have it… glorious little things…

Full of flavour and textures…

When I eat my bak chang, I’m always on the look-out for the duck egg (little bags of gold!) and chestnuts…

The Boy looks out for the pork belly! Priorities!!

So my friends… what is your most nostalgic food? And is it your comfort food?

Visit these other kitchen geniuses for their nostagic journeys 🙂