Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Duan Wu (Dragon boat Festival / Dumplings Festival)

Duan Wu jie (Duan Wu Festival) or more popularly known as the Dragon boat Festival or the Dumpling Festival falls on the 28th May this year. It's the time of the year where we throw rice dumplings into the Thames while racing down the river past the Westminster in long paddle boats beating the drums and raising a ruckus. That's the version that I told my horrified colleagues.


Duan Wu Festival is meant to commemorate Qu Yuan, a Chu scholar who was a high ranking official to the Chu King during the Warring States period (around 278 B.C.). Qu Yuan was banished from the Court when he opposed Chu's alliance with Qin and later drowned himself when Qin conquered Chu eventually.

In order to prevent fishes from feeding on his body (that was when people still love their politicians), the locals threw rice dumplings into the river (thus the name - Dumpling Festival). Also, they sent out boats on the river beating drums to scare away the fishes (thus Dragon boat Festival).

So in fact, both the Dragon boat Festival and Dumpling Festival are one and the same and both are referring to Duan Wu Festival.


I'm not so keen on the dragon boats but I love my rice dumplings ("zong zi" in Mandarin, "ba chang" in Hokkien). When properly done, the braised meat, chestnuts, dried mushrooms and even an occasional salted egg yolk stuffed into glutinous rice is literally a meal on itself. There are some on sale in London's Chinatown already for £2 each. Have not tried those but I understand that TT (my guest blogger) is making some of her own and I'm trying to get her to put up a post on how to make ba chang. Stay tuned.

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Dutchie said...

There were 18 units in our block n mom was the only one capable to make the ba chang. Besides the meat n chestnuts version, we had spicy pounded dry prawns with bits of sugared melons in it - this she gleaned out of a nonya. In bundles of 10, it took 4-5hrs cooking in simmering hot water. I used to help replenshing the hot water as it evaporised. Yes, it was spending the whole day in the small kitchen doing that while I catch up on school work, mostly the dreary mathematics which easily put me to sleep in the warm heat of the day ! Ah .. sweet memories now, of course.

Mom made enough to go around the block btw. Must be 100 pieces n still enough left over for us to pig out for an entire week after school - oh those yum days !

Dutchie said...

Hv u ever tried the plain dumpling served with pandan syrup ? A neighbour taught us to stuff red bean paste between the slices - also yum !

There is another version with fragrant beans in it. I think that is a Cantonese or Teochew version ?

waitingkitty said...

Oh...I miss the Nonya version! HK has many versions and many of them not pyramid-shaped but rectangular. The super expensive ones have abalone, shark fins, dried scallops in them! Even birds'nest! I just want my ba chang and nonya chang...

yanjie said...

here we go again.......Singaporeans talk about missing SG food.

The other day, my China flatmate and I spotted the leaves of a ba chang in the common kitchen. We were wondering who missed it so much to buy and eat it without even thinking about disposing the leaves.

Emm said...

Yum! Now I am hungry. Maybe I should make an effort to go along to the festival...

SheR. said...

I've got a picture of the Bak Chang my mum made for me years ago. Mm...

C K said...

The nonya variety is my absolute favorite. When I was in S'pore, it could still be obtained for a reasonable S$2. That will of course be inflated during Duan Wu festival.

so I supposed your mum was doing a thriving business back then huh? :)

Are you referring to "kee chang"? The plain ones with a tinge of colouring on them. I thought that they always go with kaya, no? I've not tried the ones with beans in them though.

Haha, I guess the Cantonese would stuff anything and everything into their ba chang given half a chance. Have you got your fill yet?

Don't you have some cravings every now and then? Then again, if you're not too picky, there are some pretty decent Straits eateries in central London but I'm sure you'll know much more about them than I do.

Ah... hey, do share with us any decent traditional South African eateries in London. There's quite a sizable population from S.A. over here so I'm certain there will be some really great ones here.

Wuah, did that taste good? ... Why did I even bother asking? :P

Emm said...

I try taking photos when we eat South African stuff but the photos never look appealing like your ones do! I will definitely try harder though - my Texan blogging friend JaPRA has made two of my SA recommendations now and said they came out great!

FĂ«anor said...

no food in this comment but plenty of dragon-boats! couple of years ago when the financial industry was a tad stronger than now, one of our brokers took us and a few other of their clients on a dragon-boat racing competition on the thames near wapping. my team ignominiously lost the first one, but won the next two races, but it wasn't enough to overhaul the winners. couldn't feel my arms for a day or two thereafter!

(the dragon-boats themselves were a bit of a con - canoes with a detachable dragon head attached to the bow. hmm...)

Dutchie said...

CK, no lah .. my mom just give it away - it's the neighbourly thing to do eh ?

Rite, kee chang is the word I was searching for !

Those with beans in them r very fragrant. They r usually doused in sauces like the chee chong fun - must give it a try when u come across them in SG !

Duanwu Festival said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Duanwu Festival is commonly known as the Dragon Boat Festival.It is celebrated in Hong Kong as well as Macau. It is government declared public holiday in the province of Taiwan.