Monday, May 12, 2008

Chang Festival

Gosh, is it that time of year again? Like a circle in a spiral like a wheel within a wheel....
First Chinese New Year, then Qing Ming, then Chang, then Hungry Ghost, then mooncakes, (it's when mooncakes appear that I usually go, OH NO, another year has gone by).... and these are only the chink festivals. Not to mention Thaipusam, Deeepavali, Hari Raya and Christmas.

Anyway, thanks to yet again the kindness of fellow flogger, Lemongrass, (what would life be without this gregarious garnishing) who offered me a free spot in a Chang Demo at the Grand Millennium, organised by ALICE GEORGE COMMUNICATION, Public Relations, Communication & Event Counsel for the hotel. I figured at 3pm on a Friday afternoon...there were worse ways of spending the day.

I got there on the dot, after slurping down a late lunch at that noodle place in Sg Wang. Beef brisket noodle. Yummy. But lets not digress.

To you anglophile bananas (yellow on the outside, white on the inside) out there, the Chang festival is actually known as Zongzi in Mandarin, and falls on the 5th day of the 5th moon of the Chinese Calendar. Sounds very exotic when you say it like that. I was born on the 24th day of the 11th moon, of the Julian Calendar. And like all good Chinese dishes, there has to be a story associated with it. The dumplings are basically red herrings to detract the fish in the river from eating the decomposing body of a patriotic poet who threw himself in the Miluo River when China got conquered by the Qin Dynasty. [In current day terms, it would be like the Son In Law throwing himself in the Klang River after Barisan's shocking defeat, and the BN supporters throwing in packets of nasi lemak to prevent the fish eating him...oh, hangon, no fish in the Klang River.] Oh, famous poet's name was Qu Yuan. Check it out on Wikipedia if you must.

Anyway, on hand to greet us was Head Chef (I think) Simon, and the Chang Master, Chef Thye Yoon Kong. Laid out in all its full glory were the ingredients that are to be stuffed into the dumpling. These dumplings somehow always reminds me of the phrase, "Bao Ham Yoke Zhong" (wrapping salty pork dumpling). A visual here, It's like me trying to get into my size 34 jeans, whereby I gotta rub butter on my hips and use a shoe horn to get in.


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The raw ingredients, pre soaked, are laid out here... chinese mushrooms, chestnuts, lotus seeds, black eyed beans, salted egg yolks, green ( I think mung) beans, dried shrimp.


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The above are the ingredients for the Zing Special Dumpling, and boasts an array of delicious stuff, such as dried scallops, duck meat, chicken meat, chestnuts, mushroom.

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This assortment of ingredients is for the second type of dumpling, with is a rice&bean dumpling with lots of filling... like abalone, roast duck, chicken... how the heck do they fit all that into one size 34 C?


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The presoaked dried ingredients, namely glutinous rice, from thailand, (as the quality is supposedly better), and green bean.

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The vine with which they strap in those plump dumplings. Completely biodegradable, not like rafia string. Very good, highly recommended. Anita Roddick would approve.

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And the bamboo leaves to wrap it all up. The larger ones (dumplings) use large lotus leaves as the final wrapping.

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And with the speed of Superman, Chef Thye rolled up the first dumpling. It's like driving through a small town, like Bidor, one blink and you've missed it. Same thing here. He kindly (suppressing his impatience, I suspect) slowed it down a notch for the others to grasp the complexity of the task. Yours truly tried his hand at it, but gosh, that knotting requires a phD in Scoutship, or Knotting. Makes macrame look like a reef knot.

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Finally, the best part, eating. All very good, though frankly, I still prefer the porcine versions. There's something about lard, ....healthy stuff is inversely proportional with taste, almost. You can purchase a gift pack of the three types of dumpling (the last one was the alkaline dumpling with red bean paste), with a bottle of XO sauce, for RM80. Also, the GM will be holding Chang making classes on 7th and 21st June, at RM80 per session. Do check it out.

35 comments:

daphne said...

Nice! I will be back in time for chang!!!

Kenny Mah said...

Hmm, I have to agree with you there... nothing like the porcine versions...

As for healthfulness (is there even such a word?), I'd say it's okay, FBB since we do only eat Chang once a year, right?

*mentally ignoring the plethora of other makan-ing festivals which oso occur "only once a year"*

fatboybakes said...

kennymah, actually, chang are available all year round these days.

daphne, as i said, they're available all year round these days.

Kenny Mah said...

Well, yes, we actually are aware of that. Just that eating it outside season, i.e. the Chang Festival, it'd be like eating mooncakes during the monsoon season or "long yuk" during Xmas. Can eat lah but no feel lor. No atmosphere.

Plus, when it's in season, we get more of the odd and weird fusion varieties. Not that I'd touch any of those, but still. Fun ma.

boo_licious said...

I like the black glutinous rice one. Very cute and kinda black polka dots or dalmatian like?

These dumplings are a pain to wrap up but they taste so gooooood! esp home made ones. My aunt still makes hers so we are lucky to get a regular supply.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

i m surprised by using words like "ham" as in "hamsap" hasnt warranted a big forum like the two seemingly innocent posts..

80bucks for 3 zhong a bottle of XO paste? what has the world become to? inflation? or sheer luxury?

i m not goin to be caught alive with a gift package after saying that, m i?

jamesbluntknife said...

you know, i always thought that it was rice that was thrown to the fishies, and never saw the link to the big rice dumplings (i guess dumplings is right, bao meaning dumpling and casing - well, maybe just in my mind it does).

but still, looks good and these are great to pig out on :P

Hungry Lemongrass said...

Your pictures are excellent and I'm so regretting not going for this.

Between the son-in-law and the nasi lemak, I'm not sure which I'd want to gnaw on. If I were that imaginary fish, of course. After all, he's been fattening up, hasn't he?

Nic (KHKL) said...

i always thought that every Chinese festive dish is a camouflage to embed some hidden messages to overthrow some Xi or Chi or Zen or Ya or Dah dynasties. That came from a pisang raja who actually does appreciate centuries-old ideograms.

and i also find it kinda illogical to use the chang as a distraction. first of all, changs are absolutely oily. so, if millions of these were thrown into the river, would the fish suffocate? the science of oil vs water densities? so, it's not a distraction, it's simply a WOMD lor. then again, i had 2 (complete with the lardy lard piece) this morning for breakfast...wonder if my fishes are still breathing...

oh, gorgeous pics, btw!

Nic (KHKL) said...

oopps, pardon my london, sir...fishes is not a word...hehe

Paprika said...

WHAATTT??? Accept no imitation! Its not zhong without the pork okay?! Actually, I prefer it without the meat funnily enough. I just love the beans, salted egg yolk, mushrooms and chestnut. Perfect! I can't wait to attend my zhong lesson on Sunday now! OOh I might just be kiasu enough to do the one at GM too!!

snowdrop said...

i know how to tie changs! *preens* or at least, i know i did 20 years ago, when i was a school kid... was lamenting to my mum just yesterday that i've probably forgotten the art of it. was hoping there would be pictures of that in this post, but sadly, not :(

fatboybakes said...

paps, dont forget to send us some samples once you're done with your class. i dun mind even the vegetarian one.

nickhkl, maybe the original chang were so lavish...i doubt the masses and peasants could afford to put pork and abalone and duck as fillings only to have them thrown to the fish. it was probably oil free, and very healthy for the fish. just like i'm sure they didnt have haagen daz mooncakes those days. heh heh. what? no such word as fishes? really? he fishes for fish in the creek? however, what fishes were YOU referring to?

lemongrass, which part of the son in law would you gnaw, and what kind of fish do you think you'd be?

james of ooze, i think baos generally are made from flour...you wouldnt call these a bao for sure. we'll bring you for these when u're here.

nipples, but these are no ordinary chang wor, got abalone sum more. haiya, the thing is, the catalyst for the naughty thread doesnt speak chink la, so he wouldnt know ham sap from ham luncheon meat.

boo, lucky you. no one in my family is thus inclined. nor am i. just too labourious.

kenny mah, yar, or eating nasi lemak on chor yutt morning....

jamesbluntknife said...

fbb: baozi might be dumplings, normally with a flour based wrapper similar to the wonton wrappers. however, the word bao (包) means to wrap something, or a bag.

dumplings in putonghua/mandarin are baozi, or jiaozi depending on the region or dialect.


anyway, moving right along... i've never had abalone :(

Big Boys Oven said...

wow!~ RM80 for a class is a good bragain! Will definitely regisiter myself!

Nic (KHKL) said...

oh, i was referring to the noun. but then again, a quick check at the online american dictionary reveals that fishes is indeed a word. perhaps my delectably crispy 1988 oxford is outdated already. hmmm...

oh, the fishes. i was referring to my spearheaded troop. i heard too much oil is bad for multiplication. then again, what does this 18 years old know about multiplication except that it's a cumpulsory biology chapter that was somehow the easiest to score in the whole of SPM.

sorry ar, a bit long-winded these days...hehe

jamesbluntknife said...

i'm not so sure that oil is bad for the spearheaded troops - after all, ky is oil based...

fatboybakes said...

james of ooze, ah, quite the chinese afficianado eh...you're right, of course bao means literally to wrap, but in KL specifically, baos refer to those buns with filling...
you've never had abalone? australia is one of the major producers of that stuff.

BBO, cooking house is also having a zhang workshop. paprika is attending. i think that one more hands on. the one at ZING, GM, is more a demo.

nickhkl, ah, since we have a cunninglinguist in the house, we should ask him about fish vs fishes. i'm sure fishes as a noun exists, doesnt it refer to many species, as opposed to the plural fish which is just many fish? various types of fishes peck at my feet kinda thing. i'm still at a loss what your spearheaded troop has to do with oily fishes....

james, you are absolutely right...how can oil, a lubricant, be bad for a spearhead? what's a spearheaded troop anyway?

jamesbluntknife said...

fbb, australia generally exports most of it. the only places available are chinese restaurants where the cost is prohibitive. thus, i haven't tried any :(

spearheaded troops are normally the ones to come first. i mean charge in first. oh man, i'm going to hell.

Precious Pea said...

I am tempted to make Chang this year, but one problem, i dunno how to wrap it and furthermore, I would want my pot of boiling water ended up as glutinous rice porridge. Ahem..it happened once cos it was tied too loosely.

fatboybakes said...

jamesofooze, you'll probably find lemongrass and me waiting for you there. (in hell) ah, yes, those brave troops that venture into dark grottos where no man has gone before.

precious pea, that's why i reckon for some things, you're better off buying, since the cost differential isn't that great anyway, and the labour ...gosh....

Angelic Lemongrass said...

FBB, speak for yourself. My halo's still intact. Anyway, I thought the dark grottos would be a place that man comes to over and over again? Those li'l buggers wouldn't be there if not for the cannons anyway.

Big Boys Oven said...

same also at MO cooking class which was a demo too! :(

Simon Seow said...

That day I bought a pillow chang for dinner, cost me RM 6.50.

jamesbluntknife said...

you're right lemongrass, man does love to shoot his cannons...

and the beauty is, that man doesn't discriminate where - alcohol helps his aim.

Anonymous said...

OozingJames, I thought alcohol just depletes the army? Hasn't it been scientifically proven somewhere?

jamesbluntknife said...

there have been some studies, but i think that alcohol inspires the troops and makes them work harder to find the dark grottos

HairyBerry said...

james/fbb: oh, i was speaking from a nutrition's point of view. i read that high fat content (in this case, oil) depletes the troop by multiple folds. and yes, agree that ky is oil-based but is more applicable in the mechanical approach. anyhow, it's gold. :)

alcohol definitely inspires. but aim? hmmm... sailing into the grotto without hitting its misleading walls or snapping the cannon or crashing into some bushes would already be a wonderful consolation, i guess.

jamesbluntknife said...

nic: i think it's more that alcohol helps the men find the easier grottos to pound with their cannonballs.

Enlightened said...

Ooooh Ooozing! I didn't know you would have trouble finding the dark grottos. I'd have thought the path would be an obvious one.

Now I understand the need for alcohol. *nodding understandingly*

Pisang Belanda said...

What you say people Banana one? you mean you're not one? How does one enunciate that word, "Bah-Nah-Nah" or the more conventional "Ber-Nah-ners"?

fatboybakes said...

oops, snowdrop, apologies, i completely forgot to reply your comment. my DEAR, alas, tying chang knots i do not think is a skill like riding the bicycle. i oso used to know how to fold ketupats leh...but i seriously doubt i can now. so, quick, go relearn this dying art. no pictures of the knots coz our chef was doing it at the speed of light, so much so the other ladies in attendance didnt even ATTEMPT to try their hand at one. tsk tsk...

fatboybakes said...

Pisang Belanda, what's dutch banana? is it a euphemism, like french cap?

enlightened, wonder if there are any echos in those grottos.

hairy berry, is that the western term for rambutan? btw, i think our dear james got it wrong, KY is water based if i am not mistaken.

james...alcohol to a certain degree does give the warring tribes some advantage, but cross the threshold and they're rendered useless, which is probably how the chinese army fell to the Qin dynasty, precipitating the untimely suicide of the poet that created this zhang festival. (trying to sttttttteeeeeeeeeeerrrrrr the comments back to rated G catergory)

simon seow, of course they dont call it pillow zhang in Zing, GM. it's called the Zing Special. But yeah, its basically a deluxe pillow zhang.

BBO, you mean at the MO they didnt even let you try your hand at it? At least at Zing they did...just no takers. Except me.

Angelic Lemongrass...ah, oxymoron time again i see. Angelic....oh wait, as in like Lucifer ah?!!! OHHHHHH, ya hor.

jamesbluntknife said...

another valiant effort to steer the comments back to calmer waters fbb. we'll see how long it lasts when lemongrass gets to it.

of course you are right about ky being water based - for some reason i was looking at the massage oil i have beside my bed when making those comments. and NO, having massage oil besides one's bed doesn't make them less shy; it just makes them more thoughtful ;)

Henry Yeo said...

XO paste? drunk already...