With just a few days left to the Dragon Boat Festival on 30 May 2017, it’s time to stock up on rice dumplings (bak chang) for the festivities. These addictive glutinous rice treats are typically stuffed with pork, preserved vegetables and chestnut, and presented in bamboo leaves. Recent years, however, have seen restaurants introducing creative and unusual interpretations with ingredients such as black truffle, wild rice and foie gras. Some have even infused local flavour into their offerings using condiments like sambal chilli.
For the uninitiated, the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China and commemorates the death of Zhou Dynasty poet Qu Yuan — who, as the legend goes, drowned himself after his home state was captured by another. To protect his body from being devoured by fish, villagers threw rice dumplings into the river as a (tasty) distraction.
Morbid backstory aside, the festival is an event we eagerly look forward to each year, simply because it gives us the excuse to gorge ourselves silly on these carb-filled packages of joy. Even those craving healthier fare have a wide range of options to choose from, with eateries coming up with vegetarian-friendly dumplings incorporated with mock ham, barley, mushrooms and multi-grain rice. Here are 5 rice dumplings we recommend trying this season.