Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Zongzi/chung Duan Wu Jie
The one used for ba zhang should be the big leaf bamboo called Indocalamus tessellatus
This is a post of Tradition and nostalgia. The Zhungzi or zhung in my Cantonese dialect or commonly known in Singapore and Malaysia as Bak Zhang is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked by steaming or boiling. Through the years in South East Asia, it has morphed into the Nyonya Zhung where the fragrant pandan leaf has been used to impart it's fragrance.
We ate this every year on the Lunar fifth of May, and we helped Mum wrap this difficult dumpling. I can make it but I am a lazy person, so I have not made it as an adult.
The History behind this dumpling and the Dragon boat festival associated with is Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet from the kingdom of Chu jumped to the sea when he was frustrated that the king did not listen to his advice. After his death, the people realized that the king had made a great error by not listening to him. By then it was too late, they threw rice into the sea so that the fish would not eat his body. The banging of drums on the dragon boats was to scare the fish away.
These days you can buy the tetrahedral shaped zhungzi throughout the year. My traditional Cantonese ones are rectangular shape like a pillow. My two older sisters Rose and Elizabeth can make them. Alas for me, too many decades away from home and combined with laziness, this tradition has died with me. I think I can make the tetrahedral shape of my mother in law, if I tried. They use a special kind of bamboo leaf which my mum grew in her garden. Most people buy from imported from China. The Vietnamese call this Elephant bamboo.
I took the photo of the bamboo clump when I arrived on the Gold Coast. It was the same one Mum had grown in Borneo. Here where her body lay, they also grown the bamboo which we used to make Zhungzi. We used with without having to boil them as you would have to with the imported ones. The leaves were soft and subtle.
My friend and ex school mate http://sarawakianaii.blogspot.com/2010/06/zhongzie-remembering-chu-yuan.html has written about this festival. You may like to read about it.