Chinese Rice Dumplings: Zongzi (粽子) or "Bakchang"

The Cantonese rice dumpling or zong (pronounced “ch-oe-hng”) does not have the brown-hued glutinous rice characteristic of the Hokkien bakchang, who fry their uncooked rice grains in dark soysauce and 5-spice powder before wrapping and steaming. The Cantonese do not fry their glutinous rice, but instead, will season it with salt and garlic oil before the wrapping & steaming process.

The Cantonese rice dumpling filling is characterised by its use of mung beans to accompany the marinated pork belly. The Cantonese wrap their zong into long, pillow-shaped parcels, unlike the pyramidical-shaped ones favoured by the Hokkiens. Salted duck’s eggyolk is also added to the filling at times.

Usually, the zong is served with white sugar as a dip, lending the dish a sweet-savoury flavour.


I found a very good Cantonese zong vendor in Penang recently:

Mr & Mrs Ooi
18F, Pintasan Cecil Satu, 10300 Penang
Tel: +6017558 7786/+6017423 7959
Retail stall: G Town Kopitiam, corner of Burma Road & Kinta Lane


The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu (Chinese: 端午) which falls on the 5th Day of the 5th Month on the traditional Chinese lunar calendar - next Monday, June 14 on the Gregorian calendar.

As always, there’s a proliferation of pop-up stalls and online businesses offering “bakchang” at this time of the year.

I did a taste-test of two Hokkien bakchang at breakfast today - both are homemade ones: one from Van Praagh Road and the other from Island Glades.

Bakchang from Van Praagh Road (left) and Island Glades (right).

Bakchang unwrapped. Both are Hokkien bakchang. The one from Van Praagh Road (left) had a darker hue from more dark soy-sauce used to cook the glutinous rice, before wrapping.

Bakchang dissected. Both had filling consisting of cooked pork, dried Chinese mushroom, whole chestnuts, dried shrimps, and salted duck’s egg-yolk. The one from Van Praagh used pork shoulder meat, whereas the Island Glades one used pork belly. I preferred the latter as it’s moister and fattier.

The Van Praagh Rd one had very dense, sticky glutinous rice.

The Island Glades one had looser-packed glutinous rice and had black-eyed peas added. Nice.

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