Passing on the art of ‘chang’


Family business: (from left) Helen, Choy Pin, Rinis, Lee Wei Cher, 19, and Ng Kai Wei, 15, wrapping dumplings at the Pin Village Restaurant in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. — LIM BENG TAT/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Sixty-four-year-old Lee Choy Pin has given her children and grandchildren a precious gift that she has perfected over the past four decades: a tasty recipe for ‘bak chang’, a glutinous rice dumpling.Choy Pin, who picked up the art of making dumplings while in her 20s, is more than happy to share the time-tested formula with her family.

“Bak chang is an important delicacy during Duan Wu Jie and I think it will be nice if we know how to make it.

(Duan Wu Jie is also known as Dragon Boat Festival, which is observed this Thursday.)

“Most of my family members, my children and grandchildren, all know how to make them.

“And each year, especially closer to the Dumpling Festival, we would make more than 200 dumplings to be sold,” she said at her shop in Simpang Ampat.

Choy Pin’s daughter Helen Lee, 43, has not only picked up the art of making dumplings, but is also skilled in wrapping them using bamboo leaves.

“In the beginning, it was just a hobby for my mother, who made dumplings for family and friends.

“My sister Rinis and I would join in and learn from her.

“We started getting compliments from our relatives and friends that our dumplings had the traditional taste and they encouraged us to start selling them.

“We began selling our dumplings in 2003, and we use ingredients such as glutinous rice, pork belly, mushrooms, salted egg yolks and dried chestnuts,” Helen said, adding that her mother had perfected the recipe over the years, giving it a more fragrant and traditional taste.

Rinis, 41, who worked as a hairdresser previously, is slated to take over her mother’s business when the latter retires.

“I will continue making dumplings and I will ensure that my mother’s recipe is passed down.

“As for myself, I see this skill as an inherited tradition and I take pride and joy in making the dumplings as it makes us happy when our customers are satisfied.

“We have some loyal customers who keep coming back to us because they love the traditional taste of our dumplings.

“So, we have to ensure that we keep making the dumplings using the recipe my mother handed down to preserve its authenticity,” she said.

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