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Saturday, 31 May 2014

Keeping the 'ba chang' tradition alive

Ashley Liew proudly showing her first batch of Ba Chang in her house in Puchong.

Ashley Liew proudly showing her first batch of Ba Chang in her house in Puchong.

It is a dying tradition but some Chinese families continue to make ba chang at home.

Ong Lai Hor, 74, and her daughter Chan Pek Kim, 57, said store-bought rice dumplings were not as tasty to them, and that some would stinge on the meat filling.

“I have even gone to places known for their ba chang but we were not impressed,” said Chan when met at her home in Klang.

She first learnt to make ba chang when she was in her 20s, from her mother-in-law.

The secret to making good dumplings is to fry the dried shrimp separately before cooking it with the glutinous rice.

“I am hoping my future daughter-in-law will learn how to make it and take over the responsibility, as she loves to cook,” said Chan.

(from left) Ong Lai Hor, 74, and her daughter Chan Pek Kim, 57, wrapping Kee Changs in their kitchen at their home in Klang.
Ong (left) and Chan wrapping kee changs in their kitchen at their home in Klang.

She said the young generation was reluctant to make them because the process was time consuming.

“If this continues, they may only get to eat factory-made rice dumplings or kee chang (the sweet, meatless variety).”

Ong said the technique used for wrapping the dumpling was important in determining the success of the endeavour.

Kee chang is harder to wrap as you have to make sure it is not too tight.

“You need to be able to hear the sound of the rice when you shake it,” she said.

As for ba chang, it must be wrapped tightly to make it compact so that it will not fall apart when cooked.

Ho Sau Ying, 70, who makes this traditional delicacy every year, is of the view that homemade ba chang tastes better and no MSG is used.

“People want to take the easy way by just buying it.

The secret to making a good kee chang is in the tying method.

“It is not easy to find the time and be in the right mood to make ba chang, which requires at least two days’ work,” she said, adding that young Chinese should maintain the tradition.

Someone from the younger generation who has taken on the challenge is Ashley Liew, 29, a public relations manager.

“Even my mother does not know how to make ba chang but I wanted to learn.

“Childhood memories of eating home-made ba chang has been ingrained in me,” she said.

Liew made her first batch last weekend as she missed her late mother-in-law’s homemade ba chang.

“She would stuff them with thick cuts of meat and mushrooms. The store-bought versions do not taste as good and are expensive too.”

Her “teachers” were videos and instructions from the Internet, where she found recipes and learnt the wrapping technique.

“I tweaked the recipes to make them my own, especially the filling,” she added.

Tags / Keywords: Community , Central Region , Events , Family Community , dragon , boat , festival , ba , chang , traditions


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