Nyonya Rice Dumplings (Nyonya Chang) 娘惹粽子

by Angie Liew
Nyonya Rice Dumplings

Huang Kitchen Rice Dumplings Zong Zi Recipe Collection 粽子食谱系列


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Commonly known as Zong Zi 粽子, rice dumplings are a festive food during the Dragon Boat Festival 端午节. Although rice dumplings originated from China, many overseas Chinese have adapted their country local taste into their version of rice dumpling. Nyonya rice dumpling (Nyonya Chang 娘惹粽子) is a version created by the Peranakan community, whose cooking blends both traditional Chinese and localised Malay elements. Traditionally, nyonya-style rice dumplings have a touch of blue in them. This natural blue tint is extracted from the blue pea flowers (butterfly pea flowers or bunga telang).

Nyonya Rice Dumplings

It is both sweet and savoury at the same time, as candied winter melon is added into the filling together with the meat. The addition of pandan leaves and coriander powder makes these nyonya rice dumplings so wonderfully fragrant. Comparing with the traditional chinese rice dumpling, these nyonya rice dumplings are considerably faster and so much easier to make. Truly, nothing beats homemade dumplings, be it nyonya-style or traditional style during the Dragon Boat Festival.

Huang Kitchen Rice Dumplings Zong Zi Recipe Collection 粽子食谱系列

Nyonya Rice Dumplings 娘惹粽子

Nyonya Rice Dumplings 娘惹粽子

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Nyonya Rice Dumplings (Zong Zi) 娘惹粽子

Recipe by Huang Kitchen, Angie Liew
Nyonya Rice Dumpling has a distinctive sweet and savoury taste from the diced winter melon and meat in the filling. It is also made famous by the signature blue colour patch of rice from the natural blue colour extracted from blue pea flowers.
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time3 hrs
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Malaysian
Keyword: blue pea flower, dragon boat festival, glutinous rice, nyonya, rice dumplings, zongzi
Servings: 64 dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg glutinous rice, white in colour
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp msg, optional
  • 2 tbsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp lard oil
  • 0.5 kg glutinous rice, blue in colour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp msg, optional
  • 2 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp lard oil
  • 15 blue pea flowers, for the blue colour
  • 300 ml water, to boil with blue pea flowers
  • 128 pieces bamboo leaves, boiled, washed and soaked overnight
  • 70 pieces bamboo strings
  • 5 pandan leaves, some cut into 2 inch long
  • 3 pandan leaves, knotted, to cook dumplings

Filling

  • 1 kg pork belly, without skin, cut into small cubes
  • 400 gram pork fat, cut into cubes
  • 100 gram shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cubed
  • 250 gram candied winter melon, coarsely chopped
  • 70 gram garlic, chopped
  • 150 gram shallots, sliced
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 200 ml water
  • 30 gram coriander powder, ketumbar

    Instructions

    Preparation (Day 1)

    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Start by preparing the filling for the rice dumplings. First peel and finely chopped garlic.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Also peel and finely slice shallots.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Dice candied winter melon into tiny pieces.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Wash and soak shiitake mushrooms. Then dice the softened mushrooms into small cubes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Wash, pat dry and cut pork into very small cubes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Also wash, pat till very dry and dice pork fats into uniform, small cubes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Using low to medium heat, heat a wok/pan and add in the fat cubes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      As the pan heats up, the fat cubes will start to fry themselves in the sizzling lard oil. Stir and flip the lard pieces occasionally. Fry till the lard pieces turn golden brown.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Using a strainer, filter to separate the lard pieces and the lard oil. We will need them when we fry the filling.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Chop the lard pieces into smaller pieces. Set aside for later use.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      In the same wok/pan, add in pork oil. Retain some pork oil to season the rice later. Add in chopped garlic and shallots, fry until fragrant.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then add in the diced mushrooms and stir fry till well mixed.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next add in the pork cubes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Add in pepper, salt and sugar as well. Stir fry until the pork turns opaque.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then add in the chopped pork lard. Stir to evenly mixed all ingredients.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next add in dark soy sauce.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then add in water and stir well.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      When everything is well mixed, stir in the cubed candied winter melon.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Cover and leave to simmer over medium low heat till the flavours are combined and the filling is not too wet, about 10 minutes.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Lastly stir in the coriander powder and mix well. At this point, taste to make sure it is flavourful enough. Otherwise, season to taste.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Turn off heat and dish up into a container. Once cooled, cover and leave in refrigerator until ready to use the next day.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next wash glutinous rice until water runs clear.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Separate the glutinous rice into 2 portions.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Bring blue pea flower and water to a boil. Then leave to cool and strained.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      When cooled, add the blue coloured water into the smaller portion of the rice.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Add more water to ensure the rice is fully submerged. Leave to soak overnight.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Add also enough water to the bigger portion of rice and allow to soak overnight.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next prepare the bamboo leaves by first boiling them for 5 to 10 minutes. Then let the whole pot of leaves to cool down on its own.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then gently rinse with water. Using a clean cloth, wipe the leaves piece by piece.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Leave to soak overnight together with the bamboo strings as well.

    Wrap Rice Dumplings (Day 2)

    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Drain the white glutinous rice that was soaked overnight.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Season with salt, white pepper, msg and lard oil prepared earlier. Mix well.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next drain the soaked blue coloured glutinous rice.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Season and mix well with salt,msg, white pepper and lard oil prepared earlier.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Coarsely chop the salted egg yolks.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Cut the fresh pandan leaves into 2 inch long.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      And we're ready to wrap the dumplings.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      To wrap, first overlap 2 bamboo leaves by about 80% of the area. Then fold from the centre to form a cone.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Form a well in the cone by filling with 1 tsp of blue tinted coloured rice.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then put 1 tbsp of pork filling and 1 tsp of chopped salted egg yolk to form a layer of filling.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Cover neatly with 1 tbsp of white glutinous rice. Press it down gently.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Next top with a piece of pandan leaf for extra fragrance.
    • I usually weigh the dumpling before wrapping to ensure they are of the same size. Each dumpling weighs about 80g.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Fold the leaf over to cover the top completely and press down to partially cover the sides.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Wrap the edge of the leaves to either left or right side of the rice dumpling. And we're ready to tie it up with a bamboo string.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      To tie the dumpling, wrap it with the bamboo string twice, each time with an easy knot to ensure no loose ends.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Tie the dumplings in groups of ten and we're now ready to cook them.

    Cook Rice Dumplings (Day 2)

    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      To cook the dumplings, first bring a pot of salted water to a rapid boil over high heat. (You can add a few knotted bunches of pandan leaves for extra fragrance).
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Then slowly place the dumplings into the water, making sure they are fully submerged. Cover and cook slowly over medium heat for about 2 hours, depending on size.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Always make sure they are cooked through by unwrapping one of the dumplings in the pot to check for doneness and to taste it.
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      Once they are cooked, remove from the pot immediately and hang them to remove excess water and cool to room temperature. And we're done!
    • Nyonya Rice Dumplings
      These rice dumplings are best eaten hot. And the greatest accompaniment is a cup of freshly brewed hot chinese tea. Enjoy and Happy Dumpling Festival!

Enjoy!

Notes

Season the soaked rice well with oil as this will ensure the rice will not stick to the bamboo leaves upon unwrapping it. Be generous with the seasonings for the filling as the rice will balance out the sweetness and saltiness from the filling so the final taste will be just nice. Do not tie the dumplings too tightly to allow the glutinous rice to cook well. It pressure cooker is used to cook the rice dumplings, then pressure cook for about 30 minutes. Always keep the extra dumplings in the FREEZER and reheat in steamer only when needed.

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