Every year during the dragon boat festival (端午节), mom will make a lot of Nyonya and meat dumplings for us.
But for prayer purpose, she would order some Kee Zhang/Alkaline Dumplings (碱水粽）from some ladies in town. Kee Zhang is normally much smaller in size, only about 1/3 of the normal dumplings.
The dumplings have a very unique flavor and texture after adding alkaline water/lye water, the color of rice changes and take on a yellow hue, the alkaline water also makes the rice turned firmer and finally the taste of Alkalinity, a very distinctive, slick and pleasant feeling in the mouth, it is hard to explain, but a unique experience.
I made Bak Zhang for Dragon Boat festival and was left with some glutinous rice and soaked bamboo leaves. I liked to have my Kee Zhang serve with Pandan Kaya or Caramel Kaya.
Since I do not have Kaya ready at home, I served mine with Maple Syrup this time and it is really yummy!
15 Bamboo leaves
Some cotton cooking twine
300 g of glutinous rice
1.5 tbsp of lye water/Kan Sui/Potassium Carbonate
3 tbsp of oil + 1 tbsp for cooking
15 张 粽叶
3 大勺食油 另加 1 大勺煮粽子用
1. Soaked bamboo leaves in warm water for an hour, clean and rinse well. Use a scissor to cut the stems. Drain and set aside.
2. Soaked glutinous rice for at least 3 hours, drained and add lye water/Kan Sui/Potassium Carbonate, mix well and let it rest for 15 minutes. Add 3 tbsp of oil and mix well.
3. Take a bamboo leaf twist it to form a shape of a cone. Place 2 tbsp of rice and lightly press down. Bring the tail leaf down with the other hand to cover the cone, lightly fold both the sides of the leaf that are covering the cone to form a pyramid shape, twist the remaining leaf sideways along the shape.
4. You should be able to hold the pyramid shape all in one hand now, loop the twine around dumpling and tie with a live knot, adjust the knot to make sure it is secured. Cut off the excess leaf and repeat the same steps for all the remaining ingredients.
5. Bring 1/2 pot of water to boil, add 1 tbsp of cooking oil. Place all the dumplings in, make sure you have enough water to submerge all dumplings. Boil the dumplings at medium high for 30 minutes, turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 1.5 hours more. Let the dumplings sit in the water for another 30 minutes after switching the stove off.
6. Drain, serve cool with some Kaya, syrup or sugar!