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Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings 红豆碱水粽子

by Angie Liew
Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings

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Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings

Alkaline water dumplings, also known as Kee Chang (碱水粽/枧水粽) are made using glutinous rice with alkaline water added. Alkaline water is now readily available in most Asian grocery stores. In making these dumplings, alkaline water gives the dumplings a slightly astringent flavour and changes the colour to a shiny light yellow which is the characteristic of an alkaline water dumpling.

These alkaline water dumplings are often cooked plain with just the glutinous rice and served unwrapped either plain or with sugar, palm sugar or even coconut jam (Kaya). However, I like to make my Kee Chang wrapped with red bean filling.

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings

These Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings or Red Bean Kee Chang are actually sweet rice dumplings and they are one of the most basic sweet rice dumplings (Zongzi) made during the Dragon Boat Festival. But these sweet dumplings are no ordinary Kee Chang. What make these sweet rice dumplings so special is they have red bean paste wrapped in them and the red bean paste is also homemade.

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings

A much smaller version of the big and savoury sticky rice dumplings (Zongzi), these sweet rice dumplings are so much easier to prepare and to make. Nevertheless, wrapping each individual dumpling meticulously and cooking them for hours certainly make these sweet and gooey dumplings a labour of love so be sure to ENJOY!

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings, eaten with kaya

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings – Eaten With Kaya

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

Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings 红豆碱水粽子

Recipe by Huang Kitchen, Angie Liew
Alkaline water dumplings, also known as Kee Chang (碱水粽/枧水粽) are made using glutinous rice with alkaline water. What make these sweet rice dumplings so special is there's delicious red bean paste wrapped in them!
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time2 hours
Total Time6 hours

Tap or Hover to Adjust Servings

Servings: 60 pieces


  • 120 pieces bamboo leaves, soaked and cleaned
  • 1 bundle grass strands, soaked and drained
  • 1 kg glutinous rice
  • 3 tbsp alkaline water
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil

Red Bean Paste (Filling):

  • 500 gram red bean, soaked and drained
  • 250 gram sugar
  • cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 screw pine leaves, knotted


    Cook red bean paste:

    • Soak red bean overnight.
      Wash and soak red beans for 30 minutes.
    • Cook red beans till soft.
      Place soaked red beans, knotted screw pine leaves and water into a pressure cooker.
    • Cook red beans in pressure cooker.
      Cover and cook the red beans till soft, about 30 minutes.
    • Continue to cook till water evaporates.
      You can choose to drain off the liquid or continue to cook till liquid evaporates.
    • Transfer red beans to food processor.
      Transfer the cooked red beans to a food processor.
    • Blend into smooth paste.
      Process or blend the cooked beans to form a smooth paste.
    • Cook the bean paste.
      Place the red bean paste in a clean wok and cook till dry, stirring constantly.
    • Add sugar.
      Then add in sugar.
    • Stir till sugar dissolves.
      Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves.
    • Add oil.
      Next, add in the oil.
    • Stir till smooth.
      Stir slowly until the mixture turns into a smooth paste.
    • Cool the bean paste.
      Transfer the smooth and shiny bean paste to a casserole and allow to cool completely before use.
    • Roll into balls.
      Once cooled, divide the red bean paste and make into balls. Set aside for later use.

    Prepare bamboo leaves:

    • Add oil into hot water.
      Heat a large pot or wok of water to a boil. Add in a tsp of oil.
    • Boil bamboo leaves.
      Add bamboo leaves and grass strands and boil for about 10 minutes or until the leaves turn soft but are still green in colour.
    • Clean bamboo leaves.
      Remove the bamboo leaves from the heat and use a clean cloth to wipe the leaves piece by piece.
    • Soak in water until needed.
      Set aside the cleaned bamboo leaves and grass strands to soak in cold water until needed.

    Prepare glutinous rice :

    • Soak glutinous rice.
      Wash glutinous rice for few times until water runs clear. Add enough water to cover the glutinous rice and soak for at least 2 hours.
    • Drain well the glutinous rice.
      Drain the soaked glutinous rice using a strainer.
    • Mix glutinous rice with alkaline water.
      Mix thoroughly the glutinous rice with alkaline water and vegetable oil. Set aside for another 30 mins. And we're ready to wrap the alkaline water dumplings.

    Wrap alkaline water dumplings:

    • Over-lap two bamboo leaves.
      To start, first lay 2 bamboo leaves, smooth sides up in opposite directions, with one over-lapping the other.
    • Fold the bamboo leaves into a cone.
      Bring the ends together to the middle to form a cone.
    • Add glutinous rice and filling.
      Put a tablespoon of glutinous rice in the cone and add a ball of red bean paste.
    • Cover with more glutinous rice.
      Top with more glutinous rice to cover the red bean paste.
    • Wrap the alkaline water dumpling.
      Next, fold the leaves over to cover completely the top portion of rice dumpling. Make sure you press the tip so that the end is pointed.
    • Wrap alkaline water dumpling.
      Twist it side way to follow the shape of dumpling. It should be in a triangular shape and you should be able to hold the dumpling in one hand. On shaking the dumpling, you should hear some rice grain hitting the leaves.
    • Tie the alkaline water dumplings.
      Tie the dumpling with the grass string twice, each time with an easy knot to ensure no loose ends.
    • After wrapping, cut off excess bamboo leaves and grass strands. Repeat the process to make more dumplings. And we're ready to cook the dumplings.

    Cook alkaline water dumplings:

    • Boil water.
      To cook the dumplings, first boil some water in a big pot.
    • Place the wrapped dumplings into pot.
      Gently lower the sticky rice dumplings into the water making sure they are fully submerged and boil the dumplings for about 2 hours or until cooked.
    • Cook till done.
      Once dumplings are cooked, remove from the water.
    • Hang the dumplings to dry.
      Hang the dumplings up and let them air dry and cool down for at least 1 hour before serving.
    • Test for doneness.
      To check if dumplings are cooked, dish up one dumpling and unwrap to check if the inside of the dumpling is soft enough. If it is still hard or bitter, continue to boil for another 30 minutes.
    • Red Bean Alkaline Water Dumplings
      Untie the rice dumpling right before serving and serve warm or cold. As always, ENJOY!


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To make really nice alkaline water dumplings, you need to first pick out ordinary jasmine rice grains that may have got mixed in the glutinous rice. This will ensure the cooked alkaline water dumplings to be waxy and translucent looking. (This can be done ahead of time).
Do not wrap the alkaline water dumplings too tight as the glutinous rice will expand when cooked and this will cause the leaves to break. To know if the rice dumplings has been wrapped well, shake the uncooked alkaline water dumplings and make sure there are sound resulted from rice grains hitting the leaves.
To serve leftover dumplings, leave them to cool to room temperature after removing them from the refrigerator and serve cold.
Course: Desserts, Noodles & Pasta, Snacks
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese, Malaysian
Keyword: glutinous rice, vegetarian, Zongzi Rice Dumplings

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If you like this recipe, rate 5 stars


S June 2, 2022 - 11:42 pm

Hello May I know the red bean paste how many gram per ball?

Angie Liew June 30, 2022 - 4:14 pm

Hi, sorry for the late reply. The red bean paste I used is about 15 grams. No need to be too much.

Sharon May 12, 2020 - 2:47 pm

Can I use baking soda to substitute for lye water?

Angie Liew May 18, 2020 - 11:13 pm

Hi, you can’t substitute lye water for baking soda as is. But I was told you can use 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda and dissolved in 1 cup of water. Then boil the mixture for 5 minutes to substitute for lye water. The purpose of lye water is to give the water dumpling the distinctive yellow colour and springy texture.

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