Traditional flavours and trendy ingredients take centre stage in these eight delicious rice dumplings
By Samantha Francis; Cover photo: Man Fu Yuan
It’s the time of the year, once again, to indulge in beautifully-wrapped bundles of bak chang or zong zi (rice dumplings) in celebration of Duanwu Jie, better known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
Today, we don’t have to dump dumplings into the river to prevent fish from consuming any tragic poet (as the origin story involving Qu Yuan goes). Instead, we’re spoilt for choice as restaurants spare no effort in incorporating luxurious ingredients such as morel mushroom, abalone and Korobuta pork into the bak chang. Trending food types such as salted egg yolk also make an appearance.
The following are some of our picks.
Braised Pork Trotters, Dried Japanese Bonito & Peanuts
If you enjoy well-braised pork trotters, the Rice Dumpling with Braised Pork Trotters, Dried Japanese Bonito and Peanuts from Hua Ting Restaurant is not to be missed. (Photo: Hua Ting Restaurant)
If you enjoy a well-braised pork trotter, the Rice Dumpling with Braised Pork Trotters, Dried Japanese Bonito and Peanuts ($14.80) from Hua Ting Restaurant is not to be missed. Rich in collagen, this new creation is a delightful combination of tender pork trotters and savoury peanuts, complemented with dried Japanese Bonito, which lends it a delicate aromatic flavour.
Hua Ting Restaurant, Orchard Hotel
Osmanthus Rice with Brown Sugar & Osmanthus Honey
Mitzo’s Osmanthus Rice Dumpling Served with Brown Sugar & Osmanthus Honey is sweet with a light aroma of Osmanthus. (Photo: Mitzo)
After devouring one too many savoury rice dumplings, a treat like Mitzo’s Osmanthus Rice Dumpling served with Brown Sugar & Osmanthus Honey ($15 per pair) would be much appreciated. This dessert kee chang is sweet, with a light aroma of osmanthus.
Mitzo, Grand Park Orchard
Fancy a spicy kick in your bak chang? Man Fu Yuan’s Beef Rendang Rice Dumpling will satisfy you. (Photo: Man Fu Yuan)
Fancy a unique, spicy kick in your bak chang? Man Fu Yuan’s Beef Rendang Rice Dumpling ($10.80) will satisfy your craving.
As a nod to the quintessential Malay dish, the dumpling is packed with morsels of beef cheek that’s been braised to tender perfection in aromatic coconut gravy, and complemented by flavourful glutinous rice.
Man Fu Yuan, InterContinental Singapore
Morel Mushroom with Pork Belly & Dried Scallop
For a nourishing yet luxurious treat, try the Morel Mushroom with Pork Belly & Dried Scallop Rice Dumpling from Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant. (Photo: Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant)
For a nourishing yet luxurious treat, try the Morel Mushroom with Pork Belly & Dried Scallop Rice Dumpling ($18) from Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant. Considered a “sacred mushroom”, the prized morel mushroom is low in calories, rich in antioxidant properties and helps boost the immune system.
It is paired with spice-marinated pork belly and dried scallop for a savoury dumpling that packs a punch.
Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel
Bird’s Nest with Salted Egg Yolk & Custard
This year’s trending flavour, salted egg yolk, has found its way into Shang Palace’s Bird’s Nest Rice Dumpling with Salted Egg Yolk and Custard. (Photo: Shang Palace)
It’s no surprise to see that this year’s trending flavour — salted egg yolk — has found its way into a rice dumpling. Shang Palace’s Bird’s Nest Rice Dumpling with Salted Egg Yolk and Custard ($42.80) is bound to impress your loved ones, with premium bird’s nest paired with smooth and buttery liu sha (salted egg custard) filling.
Shang Palace, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
Singapore Chilli Crab
The Singapore Chilli Crab Rice Dumpling with Homemade Chilli Crab Sauce will satisfy your cravings for the popular local dish (Photo: Golden Peony)
Stuffing local ingredients and flavours into rice dumplings is nothing new but Golden Peony has done a good job with its Singapore Chilli Crab Rice Dumpling with Homemade Chilli Crab Sauce ($28).
Upon breaking apart the glutinous rice, a meaty and juicy full-sized crab claw is revealed and begs to be dipped into the accompanying sweet and spicy chilli crab sauce.
Golden Peony, Conrad Centennial Hotel
Black Rice with Baby Abalone
The Black Rice Dumpling with Baby Abalone is made with a mixture of white and black glutinous rice. (Photo: Crystal Jade)
This year, Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts has introduced the Black Rice Dumpling with Baby Abalone ($12.90). Made with a mixture of white and black glutinous rice, this beauty is studded with a variety of textural and robust-tasting ingredients such as baby abalone, roast duck, chestnuts, salted egg yolk and mung beans.
Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts
Black Garlic with Pork Belly & Bamboo Charcoal Powder
Sweet and salty flavours come together in harmony with Cherry Garden’s Black Garlic Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Pork Belly and Bamboo Charcoal Powder. (Photo: Cherry Garden)
Sweet and salty flavours come together in harmony with Cherry Garden’s Black Garlic Glutinous Rice Dumpling with Pork Belly and Bamboo Charcoal Powder ($18). The dumpling, which comes in an eye-catching grey hue, comprises fragrant black garlic, sea whelk, preserved vegetables, succulent Kurobuta pork belly and bamboo charcoal powder.
Cherry Garden, Mandarin Oriental
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of Weekender, Issue 153, May 27 – June 9, 2016, with the headline ‘Divine dumplings with luxurious fillings’.