What matters is what’s on the inside!
While each dialect group has its own
variation of rice dumpling, the fillings
are mostly wrapped with glutinous rice
and then bamboo leaves. Keep your eyes
peeled for these dumplings during Duanwu
*These are common dumplings in Singapore
and may not represent all the different
types of dumplings found here.
These dumplings are usually filled with bean paste and come in different shapes like
the typical pyramid or a slightly more unconventional parcel shape. The Cantonese
also have a variation called the kee chang. Without filling, the rice is often
slightly yellow in colour and is eaten as a sweet dish with white sugar or palm
Hokkien rice dumplings use dark soy sauce and five-spice powder with their glutinous
rice. A much more savoury alternative is filled with pork and chestnuts, wrapped
into a pyramid shape with bamboo leaves.
You might mistake the Hokkien dumplings for Hainanese dumplings, but look out for the
bigger ingredients such as pork belly or mushrooms. Everything is stir-fried
individually before being wrapped to give it a stronger aroma.
Sweet, savoury, sweet AND savoury. With the Teochew dumpling, you’ll be spoilt for
choice on how you want to treat your tastebuds. Although less commonly found in
Singapore, you can look forward to finding red beans or lotus seed paste in the
sweet ones or pork belly, mushrooms, and even salted egg yolks in the savoury ones.
One of the few rice dumplings that aren’t wrapped in bamboo leaves but with pandan
leaves instead. This gives a unique fragrance to the dumplings. The candied winter
melon inside also “amps” the sweetness. The unique characteristic of the nonya chang lies in its signature blue-coloured tip made from blue pea flowers.
It was believed that the fifth day of the fifth lunar month was an evil month, as it was
the hottest period of the year when people were prone to fall sick. In some places,
adults drink realgar wine, which is believed to help prevent diseases.
The most significant icon of this festival is probably the rice dumplings wrapped in
bamboo leaves. It was said to be nourishing for women and children. Hence some Chinese
also refer to this festival as the “Health Festival”.