I wanted to make these dumplings for a long time and when the Chinese all over the world are celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival this week, I couldn't find a better excuse. Despite my over confidence in the kitchen, I have qualms at certain things and the wrapping part of these dumplings is equivalent to my craft skills which I considered terrible no matter how hard I try!
And so, when I have a Blogger friend, CrazyMommy who is so into arts and crafts that I swear I sometimes envy her, I suggested that we make the dumplings together. True enough, she was happy to participate in my little plan and I only managed to wrap 3 while I see her fast hands go on and on till I said "You WIN"! If I was to do this alone, a mere 1 hour of wrapping would have taken myself perhaps another 2 hours to complete a number of 14 dumplings.
Legend has it that these dumplings were made by the Chinese to appease the dragon that live in the water. As with its food varieties, the Chinese folktales and legends are numerous and for every celebration of any kind, there is usually a story behind it, be it to do with food or not! Sometimes, the tales are totally outrageous and yet there are morals from it that seems to be the message. Having said so, I always enjoy a story and don't mind listening to more. Although Missy E is so engrossed in the Disney's Princesses these days, I am sure she will enjoy a bit of dragon and magical tales too from the East!
CrazyMommy and I decided to use the usual fillings that we usually get in our hometowns. Different Chinese ethnics have different tastes in fillings and there are so many possibilities to the fillings but I prefer the savory ones to the sweet ones, partly due to the texture of the cooked glutinous rice which is mushy and more appealing with salty and savory ingredients. As this was our first attempt together, the shapes and sizes varied but not much of an effect on the end product. While CrazyMommy managed to create 3-Ds shapes, I only produced the usual 3 pointed triangular ones. But the purpose is the same... to open up a hot steamy dumpling, infused subtly with the bamboo leaves and bite into those soft rice with the overflowing fillings. All I can say is that making these dumplings together with my friend was really really fun!
4.5 cups of glutinous rice (mix with 3 tbsp dark soy sauce & 1 tsp 5 spice powder & 2 tsp salt)
4 to 5 pieces of Chinese preserved sausages (sliced into pieces)
3 salted eggs (each sliced into half and 3 parts from 1 half part)
1.5 lbs of pork belly (cut to chunks and marinate overnight with 2 tbsp dark soy sauce & 1 tsp 5 spice powder & 1 tsp salt & 1 tbsp chinese cooking wine)
8 to 10 shitake mushrooms (hydrated and each sliced into 3 parts)
3 tbsp of dried shrimps
30 to 36 bamboo leaves (washed and soaked in hot water till soft)
1)On medium heat pan, stir fry the flavored rice with its sauce for 5 minutes. Dish up.
2)Stir fry the dried shrimps for 3 minutes till fragrant. Remove.
3)Stir fry the pork belly and mushroom together for 5 minutes. Dish up.
4)Assemble all ingredients in individual plates or bowls.
5)Take 2 bamboo leaves, layered together and form a cone shape and hold shape in one hand. Fill in with 1 tbsp of rice, layering and smoothing the surface and pile in the fillings. Scoop another 1 tbsp of rice to cover up the filling. Use twine to tie up with occasional knots to tighten so that fillings will not spill out while cooking.
6)Continue till rice is finished up. Tie 4 to 6 dumplings to one connecting piece of twine. Boil a big pot of water and put in all the dumplings to boil for about 1 & 1/2 hours. Always ensure that dumplings are submerged in the boiling water. Boil on medium heat.
7)Remove from pot after cooking time. Best eaten while warm. To reheat in microwave, remove the bamboo leaves first.
Makes : 14 to 16 medium sizes dumplings