It's that season of the year again. This year I'm making my favourite Nonya rice dumplings. These were taught by my mum 3 years ago. She used to make them every year when we were young. I could eat 8 of them in a day when I was a little kid! Pretty amazing appetite I had then. Now that age is catching up on her, she can't make these anymore due to the extensive work involved. I was glad I managed to learn the basic from her. Although my skills are still far from hers, but at least the recipe can be passed down without loss. It's part of our heritage that is slowly losing in this modern age.
1kg Glutinous rice
30 large dumpling leaves
Dumpling strings for tying
1kg pork belly, skin removed (retain the fats) (三层肉)
1/2kg pork shoulder, boneless (前腿肉)
300g melon strips (糖冬瓜)
200g chestnuts (I use fresh chestnuts with the pellicle)
100g preserved chinese mushrooms
1 tsp salt
3.5 tbsp finely grounded coriander seeds*
1 tbsp five spice powder
1 tbsp pepper
3.5 tbsp light soy sauce
1.5 tbsp dark soy sauce
*It's best to grind your own. I find commercial ones not as fragrant.
Preparation (can be done 1-2 days earlier)
1. Soak dumpling leaves and strings overnight. Place a heavy weight on top of the leaves to ensure all leaves are soaked.
Boil the leaves and strings in a large pot of water for 10 mins on the second day.
Wash the leaves, using a piece of cloth to stroke each leave downwards from the stalk to the tip. After washing, continue soaking till ready to use, changing water 2-3 times a day.
2. Boil pork in a pot of water for 10 minutes to remove any smell. Dice semi-cooked pork, approximately 1cm for lean meat and 0.5cm for fatty meat.
Remove tough membrane like this
3. Boil the chestnuts (with the pellicle) in water for 10 minutes. Remove the pellicle if you are using fresh chestnuts. Discard any rotten ones (use a small knife to prick open the center of the chestnuts to check). Wash the chestnuts and boil for another 10 minutes to semi-cook them.
4. Dice melon strips approximately 0.5cm.
5. Soak and wash chinese mushrooms. Dice approximately 0.5 cm.
6. Slice shallots into 1mm thickness.
7. Wash and soak the glutinous rice for 6-8 hours before use.
To cook the fillings
1. Fry the shallots in a wok over medium heat until golden brown. Drain and set aside for later use.
2. Fry the mushrooms in the shallot oil till fragrant. Drain and set aside for later use. Scoop out extra oil leaving about 2 tbsp.
3. Fry the diced meat. Season with 1 tsp of salt. Cover wok and simmer over medium heat till meat is just cooked. Scoop out any excess oil/liquid.
4. When the meat is about to dry, add the mushrooms, melon strips, chestnuts and seasonings to mix well before adding the shallots in the final stir. Do not overcook pork or it will be tough. Remove from heat and leave to cool completely.
On actual day
1. Drain water from the leaves.
2. Drain water from the rice and add 1 tbsp of salt to season.
3. Give the meat a good stir so that the oil trapped at the bottom can be evenly distributed. (If the cooked meat is kept in the fridge, bring to room temperature before wrapping.)
4. To wrap dumpling, fold the leave at approximately 40% mark from the tip so that the stalk is the longer end.
The folded end should be at least 1.5-2cm
Scoop a tsp of rice,
follow by 2 tbsp of meat & chestnut
and finally cover with another 1-1.5 tbsp of rice.
The two ends of the leave should be overlapping each other
Fold the dumpling and bend the leave carefully, making sure the corners are not broken.
Fold both sides inwards
Holding both sides with your right hand, fold it upwards towards the overlapping leave on your left hand and wrap the leave around the dumpling
Fold the leave to one side
Ensure the folded point does not fall at the stalk but at the leave or the dumpling may break open during boiling
Tie each dumpling securely with a string. Do not tie it too tight. The string should just go round the dumpling (twice) nicely and not create any crease.
5. Cook the dumplings in boiling water over medium-high heat for 1 hr. Water level must be above all the dumplings. Add boiling water along the way, if necessary.