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.
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.
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.
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?
The presoaked dried ingredients, namely glutinous rice, from thailand, (as the quality is supposedly better), and green bean.
The vine with which they strap in those plump dumplings. Completely biodegradable, not like rafia string. Very good, highly recommended. Anita Roddick would approve.
And the bamboo leaves to wrap it all up. The larger ones (dumplings) use large lotus leaves as the final wrapping.
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.
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.