Friday, June 22, 2012

Nyonya Rice Dumplings (娘惹粽子)

Max is a super fan of Nyonya Rice Dumplings. So does my mother. Whenever I see him buy rice dumplings outside, he will definitely choose this instead of the ordinary savory rice dumplings. I'm not a big fan of it. But I knew there must be something magical in there that makes them go gaga over it.

The presence of candied winter melon and coriander powder makes this rice dumpling taste unique and yet addictive. I realized that I started to appreciate it after I learnt how to make Nyonya Dumplings...

I'm not a Nyonya nor related to any of the Nyonya Family. Thus, I don't have any special nor true-blue Nyonya grandma's recipe here. I read quite a few Nyonya rice dumplings recipe from fellow bloggers. Each and everyone has their different ways of doing it. In the end, I decided to give this recipe a try. But I did some modification on the ratio to suit my individual preference and also changed the way of preparing which I find it works for me.

It is my 1st attempt. I'm quite worried at the beginning. Nobody is guiding me. But for the sake of my husband, I tell myself that I should be courageous enough to learn lah. At least the cost for making Nyonya dumplings is not as expensive as the savory rice dumplings that calls for salted egg yolks and a big piece of pork belly meat on every dumpling.

The original recipe asking for 4.5lbs glutinous rice. That is about 2kg. I don't live in a family of 10 or feeding the whole village. And it's my 1st time making it, I won't wanna take the risk. So, I reduce the recipe drastically.

And the worst part is.... I can't find blue pea flower for my Nyonya dumpling, which really makes me wanna stab myself hard! Arrgh!!

I just go without it then :(

Here's my modified recipe that can make about 12 to 14 rice dumplings. I make 13 dumplings out of it. But it is better to prepare all ingredients counting 15pcs. Extra is better than shortage.

  • 600g Glutinous Rice
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 tbsp pork lard / oil (from pork fats)
  • Some pandan leaves, cut into 2 inches length. Prepare about 15pcs.
  • 8g blue pea flower (if you can't find, you may opt out)
  • 150ml water
  • 15 pcs big bamboo leaves, or make it 30 if you prefer to double up.

  • 400g Lean Pork Belly
  • 200g pork fats
  • 4 tbsp pork lard / oil (from pork fats)
  • 3 tbsp pork lard bits, chopped. (from pork fats)
  • 25g dried chinese mushroom
  • 100g candied winter melon
  • 25g garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 3 tbsp coriander powder or roasted ground coriander seed
  • 100ml water


The method is about the same as savory rice dumplings. Only the filling part is different. It takes 3 day in advance to prepare all the ingredients.
Day 1

1. Purchase all the necessary ingredient. You can purchase the pork and pork fats also. But I choose to purchase it on day 2 because of it's freshness.

2. Wash and soak mushroom overnight.

Day 2 (Purchase pork and pork fat if you haven't do so)

3. Prepare dumpling leaves. Boil the dumpling leaves for 20mins or upto 30mins if you are boiling alot of leaves. Remember to add in the grass strands and boil together. Let the whole pot of leaves cool down on it's own. I leave it there and I go to work. By the time I return home from work, my leaves are well soaked and turned soft enough. Use water to kinda gently wash them, drained. Use a cloth to wipe the leaves piece by piece. Set aside.

4. Wash glutinous rice for few times until water runs clear. If you are making blue color rice with blue pea flower, separate rice into 300g each. Bring blue pea flower and 150ml water to a boil. Leave it cool. Add in the blue water into one of the 300g rice. Add more water into the blue rice. Leave both white rice and blue rice soak overnight.

5. Wash, pat dry and cut pork into small pieces. Really small, but not minced. It's like about 1cm x 2cm in size kinda size.

6. Wash, pat dry and dice pork fats into small pieces. If you are buying your pork fats from Sheng Siong, they are already nicely diced. If you are buying readily diced ones, DO NOT WASH. Just leave it like that. Or else, you will have problem frying it.

7. Put all pork fats into a pan, cover the lid, cook it under low fire. Let it slowly fry the pork fats. The oil will immerse out on it's own. Let it fry till you see the pork lard bits turned golden yellow. Heat off, remove pork lard bits, and pour pork lard in a bowl, set aside. You will need to use it later. (Remember to keep remaining pork lard in the fridge for the next day)

8. If pork lard bits is too big piece, give it a few chop. We need to use the pork lard bits later.

9. Peel garlic and shallots, cleaned, finely chopped. Dice mushrooms and candied winter melon into tiny pieces.

10. Heat pork oil in a wok, fry chopped shallots, garlic and pork lard bits till fragrant.

11. Add in pork, salt, sugar, pepper and mushroom. Stir till the pork changes color. Add in dark soya sauce sugared melon and 100ml water. Continue to let it cook for about 8 to 10mins under medium low heat. We wont want the filling too wet, just a lil' wet will do. 

12. Add coriander powder and stir well. If the filling still wet, let it simmer for awhile. Taste. If you feel that the sweetness and saltiness suits your taste-bud, then, off heat, and dish up. 

13. It is better to keep it in a glass container like this. I love using glass container. It comes with a cover. Once it has cooled down, cover up and straight into the fridge for next day use. Convenient right?

Take a look at the fillings. It should be slightly wet, not totally dry. I know some people prefer their fillings totally dry. But I don't. I want to retain it's juiciness.

Always remember. You need to make your fillings more flavorful. You will be eating the fillings together with the glutinous rice, not eating the fillings just like that. If your fillings is not flavorful enough, you will end up eating bland rice dumplings. How tasty your dumpling is, it depends on how flavorful your filling is. 

Day 3 

14. The 1st thing you need to do in the morning is to take the fillings out of the fridge, give it a good stir. Let the liquid and meat well combined. Cover up, put it in a FREEZER for at least 1 hour. Yes! Freezer!

15. Drain glutinous rice. Set aside.

16. Stir fry rice - Take pork lard out of the fridge. In a pan, melt the cold pork lard under low heat. Add in drained rice, pepper and salt. Give it a good stir. Remember.... this must be done under low heat. We won't wanna cook the rice. We just want the flavor to get well combined. If you are having blue colored rice, you have to do it separately. I don't have it. So, I'd just combine both together.     

Now, the dumpling leaves are ready, rice and fillings also ready to use.  

To wrap dumplings:

1. Take 1 broad or two leaves and fold from the center to form a cone. Take a fistful of plain glutinous rice and a dollop of blue rice (if you have blue rice), line the sides.

2. Put 2 tbsp of pork filling over rice and cover neatly with more glutinous rice. Top with a piece of pandan leave before folding leaf over. Tie tightly with string.

3. Tie dumplings in groups of ten and boil in rapidly boiling water for 2 to 2 1/2 hour.
Throw some star anise into the water to enhance the fragrance.

4. Hang dumplings up for at least 1 hour to air-dry.

And you are done..

You must be wondering why must I freeze the fillings before use. Right? This is a method to retain it's juice. I want my dumplings to have juicy fillings, not dry fillings. Thus, I freeze it. When the dumpling is cooking, the juices will melt inside the dumpling while the rice is cooking at the same time. You could see my dumpling is not pure white. But has abit of brownish color. This is because the meat juices goes into the rice while cooking.

This method makes very flavorful and juicy Nyonya rice dumplings. Seriously, I love it this way :)

This is my 1st attempt on Nyonya Rice dumplings. I would say, I feel proud of it. I think I'm gonna stick to this recipe that I'd modified to suit my taste.

Husband gives two thumbs up to my Nyonya Rice Dumplings!

All hard work is really worthwhile :)

* * UPDATE : Some readers feedback that the ratio of the rice and fillings isn't accurate. Please note that I use generous amount of filling on my rice dumplings. Look at the photo again. Only a thin layer of rice, and the filling is really generous. So, it still boils down to how you want your dumpling to be. More rice? or More filling? If you intend to wrap lesser fillings, and more rice, please prepare more rice. * *

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Mama's Savoury Rice Dumplings (我妈妈的咸肉粽)

Wanna have a piece of Rice Dumpling? You prefer Sweet Dumplings or Savory Dumplings?

Well, I like both. Hehe :)

There are many types of rice dumplings out there. Cantonese, Hokkien, savory, sweet and the list goes on...

The very last time I had my my mother's home-made rice dumpling was like.... 10 years ago. Yes, u didn't hear me wrongly. It's 10 years!!! Pathetic. Haiss...

She used to make rice dumpling often. Although she don't really make it every year, but often enough for me to "lock" the flavorful dumpling taste and it's fragrance smell in my memory. But I have no interest to learn from her last time. Sigh! Serve me right for not able to eat it for 10 years! 


Year over year passed by, I longed wanted to eat her dumplings. But she ignored me. Ever since my father passed away, the more she don't have the interest to make dumplings anymore. I had been begging her for 2 years, just to ask her to teach me how to make this. As usual, I get ignored. I don't wanna let this rice dumpling tradition to fade away. Not in my family. Not at my generation. I wanna let my future child to be able to taste this! And till now, I still couldn't find a shop-bought rice dumpling (in Singapore I mean) that can really wow me. And the price of a good quality rice dumpling in Singapore is like a price of gold!

My mama is getting older and her memory sometimes fluctuate. She tends to be forgetful! She is in Singapore for holiday for the past two weeks, and I'm gonna grab the opportunity. I bug her to teach me and I make her tell me her recipe before she forget everything! I know it's never be easy to make rice dumplings. It's oily and messy. But, no matter how hard, I must persevere!

Mama's memory is really bad. She didn't stay with me during her stay in Singapore. So, mama didn't shop for ingredients together with me. From choosing the right meat, the right quantity of every ingredients, the right dumpling leaves to marinating meat. Everything is done by my own.

How I did it? Here, I call her...
Me : Hello Ma, I'm going to get the ingredients ready. What should I buy?
Mama : Leaves, glutinous rice, pork, mung bean, dried shrimps and bla bla bla.... Standard la.
Me :  Urgh! Erm...Okays.. What is the quantity? 
Mama : U just agak-agak loh! (just estimate it)
Me : ??? How to ??? U at least must tell me a rough guide right?
Mama : 1 kg Pork, 1 kg glutinous rice, 1kg mung bean. The rest just agak-agak can liao.
Me : Huh??? Mom??!! 1kg Pork, 1kg Rice, 1kg mung bean?? Are you sure??? 
Mama : Aiya.. I just agak-agak only loh. I also forgotten. 10 years never make already.

She win liao (-___-)

So, with her big word "agak-agak", I worried I will "gena Hollanded" (misleaded) by my mama, and I might end up don't have enough rice for all the ingredients. I quickly googled a few rice dumpling's recipe and do comparison on their rice and meat ratio. So that I could have rough idea.

True enough, my mama's ratio is wrong! Arrgh!!! But she insisted that she is right. So, I just don't wanna argue. So, without telling her, I prepare more than what she asked for. With no one else that I could rely on, I have to depend on myself on all the preparation work. So, I increased the glutinous rice, and I reduce the mung bean. And luckily, the ratio that I estimated is just nice.

Before all the long-winded dumpling making process, here's the shopping list. With this, you should be able to make about 45 to 50pcs of dumplings. Depends on the size of your dumpling. I make 47 dumplings here.

1½kg Glutinous Rice 糯米
700g Dried Mung Bean 开边绿豆 - Yellow Color type. Not green type.
200g Small sized Chinese Mushroom 冬菇 - About 25pcs (Est. about 1½ inch size would be fine).
250g Chestnut 栗子- You should get about 50 to 55pcs
1kg Pork Belly (Skinny part) 五花瘦肉
300g + 100g Pork Fats 肥肉 (Read on, and you will know why we need this)
25pcs Salted Egg Yolk 咸蛋黄
150pcs Dumpling Leaves and Grass Strands 粽子叶 / 粽子绳
200g Dried Shrimps 虾米
20pcs Star Anise 八角 <---- This is the secret recipe!
100g Garlic 蒜头
300g Shallot 葱头
60g Ginger 姜

Seasoning needed
Hua Diao Chinese Cooking Wine 花雕酒
Oyster Sauce 蚝油
Five Spice Powder 五香粉 - Buy from Chinese Medicinal Hall.
Soya Sauce 酱油
Dark Soya Sauce 黑酱油
Sugar 糖
Pepper 胡椒粉
Salt 盐

Please make sure that you have all the seasoning at home before you start. It will be less messy.
And here's the seasoning ratio :

Marinade Pork Belly and Pork Fats (2 days in advance)
2 tbsp Sugar
4 tbsp Hua Diao Chinese Cooking Wine
8 tbsp Soya Sauce
1 tbsp Pepper
1½ tbsp Five Spice Powder
3 tbsp Oyster Sauce
Ginger Juice from 60g Ginger. (Skinned, finely chopped, juiced)

Glutinous Rice (Actual Day)
Pork Lard from 100g Pork Fats - cut into small cubes, fry with 2tbsp of oil. This will create pork lard. Discard the pork fats before you add in the rice.
3 tbsp chopped shallot
1½ tbsp chopped garlic
1½ tbsp Sugar
3 tbsp Oyster Sauce
2 tbsp Five Spice Powder
2 tbsp Salt
1 tbsp Pepper
1½ tbsp Dark Soya Sauce

Mung Bean (Actual Day)
3 tbsp Oil
2 tbsp Shallot
1 tbsp Garlic
1 tbsp Five Spice Powder
3 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper

Dried Shrimps (Actual Day)
½ tbsp Oil
½ tbsp Pepper
½ tbsp Shallot
½ tbsp Garlic

Mushrooms (Actual Day)
1 tbsp Oil
½ tbsp Shallot
½ tbsp Garlic
½ tbsp Sugar
½ tbsp Oyster Sauce
¼ tbsp Salt

Chestnuts (Actual Day)
½ tbsp Oil
½ tbsp Five Spice Powder

Here, I will write down the method based on 3 days schedule, so that you will be able to plan your time nicely by spreading the work in different days. Less tired and more organized. Trust me. I did my preparation over weekday (after work), and wrap my dumpling on weekend. The schedule is just nice.

Day 1 (Purchase and Preparation)

1. Purchase all the necessary ingredients. 

2. 1kg pork belly - cut into 50 pieces of big chunks, about 20g each piece. 300g pork fats - cut into 50 pieces, about 6g each piece. Marinade both pork belly and fats and keep it in air tight container and straight to the fridge. It is always better to marinade your meat 2 days in advance. Your meat will taste more flavorful. You could pack them in a plastic bag to differenciate the sizes of meat if you wish. I did that at the begining. But later, my mama says that it is not necessary. Just agak-agak will do. So, she end up ask me to mix both pork belly and fats together. Urgh!

3. Skinned your shallot and garlic. Put it in a container, keep it in the fridge.

Day 2 (Preparation)

1. Prepare dumpling leaves :

a) Use a big pot that can fit in all your dumpling leaves, boil the dumpling leaves for 20mins or upto 30mins if you are boiling alot of leaves. Remember to add in the grass strands and boil together. If the leaves floats up, use something heavy to sink it down. Just like this....


b) Let the whole pot of leaves cool down on it's own. I leave it there and I go to work. By the time I return home from work, my leaves are well soaked and turned soft enough.

c) Use water to kinda gently wash them, drained.

d) Use a cloth to wipe the leaves piece by piece. By doing that, your leaves will be dry from water, but moist enough to use.
* Please bear in mind that you cannot do this too early. If you are using the leaves the next day morning, the earliest you can do this is the night before you sleep. If you do it too early, your leaves will dry up and crumpled together.
2. Prepare the rest of the ingredients :

a) Wash glutinous rice for several times, until you don't see the milky residue any more. Soak the washed rice in water overnight.

b) Wash chinese mushrooms several times to remove dirt. Soak overnight. When it is soft enough, remove the stem and scissor the mushroom into half. You won't need such a big piece of mushroom in your dumpling.

c) Wash chestnuts, soak it for half hour. Use a sharp object (eg.knife/fork) to remove the membrane and dirt from the chestnut. Wash again, and soak overnight.

d) Cut salted egg yolks into half, keep them in air-tight container and straight to the fridge.

e) Take out your skinned garlic and shallots from the fridge. Finely chopped. Keep it in a container and put it back to the fridge.

f) Take out your marinated meat and fats and check. If you are wrapping them in a plastic bag (like me), give your plastic bag a few squeeze. To kinda even up the marinate mixture, so that every piece of meat are evenly marinated. If you are marinating it in a big container, just use spoon to give your meat a mix, and put it back to the fridge.

Day 3 (Wrap Dumpling Day)

1. Use a big wok, stir fry all the ingredients. (Refer to the seasoning ratio and stir fry accordingly)
  • 1st - Stir fry dried shrimps.
  • 2nd - Stir fry mushrooms.
  • 3rd- Stir fry chestnuts.
  • 4th - Stir fry green beans.
  • Lastly - Stir fry glutinous rice.
* Especiall for stir frying the rice, do take note that it must stir fry under medium low heat. We just wanna add fragrance to the rice. We don't wanna cook it. If you stir fry the rice under high heat, the rice will end up cooked at the surface, and the rice will turned sticky, and it's like... it has a wall of glue glued at every rice grain. When you wanna cook the dumplings, the grains will never get cooked deep in thoroughly due to the sticky wall on the grain. You might end up having whole pot of dumplings that has half-cooked rice in there.

All ingredients are ready now.  

For the assembly part...

  1. A scoop of glutinous rice. Create a well in there.
  2. Add in some dried shrimps in.
  3. Continued with mushrooms, chestnut and salted egg yolks
  4. Add a piece of pork and a piece of pork fats.
  5. A scoop of mung bean.
  6. And cover with about 2 scoops of glutinous rice. Press it down gently before wrapping up. 
After the above 6 steps, using your hand to firmly pack the rice, but gently. Fold in the leaves, and tie with grass strands.

Easy right?

Actually assembly part is easy, wrapping part is not. There's a reason why my mama insisted on the assembly sequence.

At one end of the rice, there's sweetness of dried shrimp. At another end, there's generous amount of mung bean. The existence of that piece of sinful pork fats is not for us to eat. We discard them when we eat actually. It is to add a pleasant fragrance and moist to the mung bean and the rest of the ingredients. Do take note that the taste of the mung bean plays a big part to derive the yumminess of the dumpling. You won't wanna eat bland and beans don't ya? So, the dried shrimps must be at one end, the mung bean and pork fats must be at the other end. So that the flavor will be evenly distributed and it won't have conflict.

Oh well, that's mama's logic :)

It is now ready to cook! Excited!!! Gan-cheong-ness!!! :D

Throw some star anise into the pot of water, let it boil under high heat for awhile. When you could smell the fragrance of star aniste, place the dumplings into the water. Lower to medium heat and let it cook slowly. I used 2 pots to fit in all my 47pcs dumplings. Just nice. Let it cook for 2.5hours or upto 3 hours if your dumplings are big. Do not cook your dumpling under high heat. Dumpling leaves might end up cracked, and the rice will ooze out. It's gonna be a mess. You won't want this to happen.

Remember to always check the water level. You must ensure that the water level is always enough to cover up the dumplings. So, adding water frequently is a MUST. Don't be lazy. You won't want to eat half-cooked dumplings right? Look at the water level here. This is the right water level.

After 2.5 hours cooking. Dumplings are done. Remove from water immediately and hang it up, leave it air dry for at least 1 hour. But I have to confess that I will never have the patience to wait for 1 hour. Haha...

Ah wells...

You could see that I didn't tie my dumplings tight enough. Look at the grass strands, it's loosen up already. My mama says that my "kung-fu" is not good enough yet. Well, I agree with her totally. Need more practise.

These are all my effort. Total 47pcs. Some are really ugly. And you could tell that I'm the one who did it.

Tired. Perspiring all over. I wanna bathe!!!

But there's alot of things in the basin waiting for me to wash up. And the worst part is to see my maid husband is sitting outside enjoying his fave TV show. Urgh!

This is the one that I wrapped. The shape is flatter, and not that appealing. Follow my paternal grandma's wrapping method. It uses 3 dumpling leaves. The wrapping method is much easier and fool proof. So, it is great for 1st timer like me. Looking at the shape, I'm not proud of it. But as long as the taste is great, I don't really bother. At least for now. Haha....

The old fashioned savory rice dumpling that I don't think anybody could resist.

This is my Mama's dumpling. Uses 2 dumpling leaves only. The shape is sexy, proudly tall and nice-ass looking. The usual dumpling shape that we saw out there. This method of wrapping need abit of "kung-fu" here. My Mama insisted me to master the easy wrapping way before I learn this.

Although there's alot of shit-ass work and it's really mad tiring for doing all the washing. But I think, I will still make it next year. I'm gonna stick to this ratio and I'm gonna burnt charcoal to cook my dumplings!

My future residential area have lots of space to allow me to burnt charcoal! I'm gonna make even more delicious dumplings next year! Weeee~!!!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mrs.NgSK's Vanilla Butter Cake

This is not the 1st time I bake Butter Cake. But, this is a special one. The recipe that I'm gonna stick to it. To look at, I'll grant you, this is not a joyous creation, but moist and old-fashioned taste is all the more heightened for being unforeseen. I like that.

This butter cake has it's story behind. But it's too long winded to write it here. I'm gonna make it short - I had this cake before, during my schooling time at my hometown. One of my school-mate's mother baked this, and they offered me a piece of butter cake that taste really awesome. At that time, I thought that was the BEST butter cake ever! My taste-bud can be quite picky sometimes. If it is really nice, I will never forget the taste. This butter cake is one of them.

Wendy from and I are from the same school. She's my senior. Recently, she posted a butter cake called Mrs NgSK's Butter Cake recipe in her blog that makes me really wanna try. And I thought this might be the long-lost taste that I'd been looking for. I'm unsure. By looking at the picture, I'm really not sure if it is the one that I ate during my schooling time. Butter cake looks about the same on the picture lah. Yellow color loh. Hahaha... But Wendy mentioned that Mrs NgSK (the recipe originator) is from Kampar. Same home-town! So I thought this might be the one. Even if it is not the one, I thought, no harm trying also, coz the butter cake looks really good and old-fashioned type. So, I give it a try.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Iced Grass Jelly with Honey

Random weekend with crazy hot weather. Having bad headache and I think I'm gonna burst anytime.

So, I prepared myself a bowl of ice cold grass jelly for myself to cool down.

What I've got here is really nothing. This pretty instant I would say.

1 pack of Shop-bought grass jelly.
1 heaped tablespoon of honey
a handful of ice cubes.
half cups of water.

I don't call this recipe. This is really like... as easy as cooking instant noodles can?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Prawn Broth Spaghetti

This is one of the quick weekday dinner that I cooked after a hectic work. Home late to a bare fridge and a rumbly tummy. Sigh!

Ahh... Comforting Prawn Broth Spaghetti, with Prawns and Fish Fillet of course. This warm and fragrant broth can be whipped up in no time from ingredients I'll already have in my cupboard or freezer.

If ever there were justification for cupboard love, this would be it; a full-on dish thrown together to enormous effect, simply with ingredients that you can more or less keep on permanent standby. And, like so many of the recipes that I have, it's pretty well instant. I do not have the luxury time to go and shop for fresh ingredients everyday. Hence, keeping some frozen food in the fridge is always good. Fish fillet and prawns are the common ones. While for dried food, I always make sure I have some spaghetti or Asian style dried noodles in the cabinet.