Sunday, June 17, 2007

Dumpling Festival

Duan Wu Jie (Dumpling festival) is around the corner and I wish, I had brought my camera with me to market today as every where I went every stall was selling chang (dumplings). The festival is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival, falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar calendar (this year it falls on 19th June).
It is a day to remember the poet Qu Yuan, who was a loyal official in the court of the Chu Kingdom in old China. Other officials told the emperor lies about Qu Yuan. The weak emperor believed the evil officials and asked Qu Yuan to leave his court. Over the next 20 years, the Chu kingdom got weaker. Qu Yuan was very sad that his beloved country was controlled by another country, the Qin Kingdom. He decided to end his life by jumping into the river. Fishermen who heard that Qu Yuan drowned himself in the river set sail on boats to look for his body. When they could not find it, they threw rice wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river so that the fish in the river would eat the rice instead of his body. The traditions of dragon boat races and eating rice dumplings on Duan Wu Jie thus began. Duan Wu Jie is also known as Dragon Boat Festival or Dumpling Festival.
There are so many versions on sale today, that one is spoilt for choice. This one is a sweet version which contains red bean paste. I bought these from a neighbor who makes them for sale. She was alittle stingy with the red bean paste this time around.
My personal favorite is still the nonya bak chang (pork dumpling) which contains fatty pork that has been fried with sugared dried winter melon, dried shitake mushrooms and lots of spice but the main one is coriander powder. This nonya bak chang was bought from a side walk vendor who is very popular with the residents near the market. She is very generous with her ingredients and $2.20 a piece didn't seem to bad. On usual days, it's a dollar a piece.

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