04 June 2008

Nonya Dumplings

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.

Nonya Dumplings

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
300g shallots

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.

Mood: tired


Anonymous said...

Wow! Really a lot of work. But I bet the taste must be worth it!

I like nyonya dumplings too. Thank you for sharing the recipe and method. I will attempt to make them for my children to try. It will be a pity if our traditional food disappears from our table. As it is, I am already more adept in cooking western meals and baking cakes and cookies. Furthermore, we are living abroad where certain ingredients are hard to come by and there is no grandmother or aunty to make these delicious delicacies for us! Thank goodness for people like you and the internet as a very powerful medium to have access to traditional recipes! :)

Elin Chia said...

:) I agree with kat that 'chang ' involves a lot of work but the result will be worth it.
Thanks for the photo illustrations and sharing your recipe. Will take up the challenge one day :)

Anonymous said...

I've make my first attempt in trying to do my own dumpling. Phew ! lots of hard work and tiring. After tasting the yummy dumpling, it results to ... it's all worth it.

Thanks for the effort in sharing the photo illustration, it's very helpful. That's where i learn my dumpling wrapping. B'cos of all the bloggers sharing, otherwise i wouldn't have the courage to make my 1st attempt to dumpling making.

Yuri said...

wf, impressive how you can wrap dumplings and take such clear pix of the process.

My husband and I learnt to make his aunt's cantonese bak chung about 3 years ago. We haven't tried it again as we've both been so busy. I think I should look for my notes and record it properly before it is lost. Your post will be useful to get me started! Thanks

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of work!!! Your family is so fortunate to be able to enjoy the great good prepared by you!

KWF said...

kat, elinluv & Bernic, yes, this is really a lot of work! but if you like dumplings, it's good to try at least once in your lifetime, tt's what I reckon. :)

yin, congrats on the success of your first dumplings! A great sense of achievements right?

yuri, you shd have seen me taking the pics with my oily hands! Quite challenging! Some of the pics got to ask my helper to help to take them.

allthingspurple said...

hi, I bloghopped from Rei's blog. And wow, is there anything you can't do? That's a compliment, by the way. I am truly impressed with your talent.

KWF said...

Thanks, allthingspurple. Ermm...there are quite a few things I can't do. Chiffon cake is one of them! lol...

Anonymous said...

Admire your effort, that remind me my younger days, can try everything and anything, now looking forward to do more on retirement.
Not enough time always with more than 1 hobby.
You are so good on your blog and PC skill, I am just leaning, in fact I link this from GCS.

Anonymous said...

hi there
I am a singaporean living in NYC and stumbled upon your blog by chance.. I love nonya dumpling and the pics here definitely looks tempting..you seem like a really great cook..

the.dress.shop said...

Wow. Thanks for creating this post. I am a Singaporean staying now in Bangkok. May I ask how many dumplings can you make based on that mesaurement given?
Can advise? Many thanks!

KWF said...

the.dress.shop, sorry for the late reply, was busy wih dumplings last week. My dumplings are quite medium/small size, so can make about 20-24 dumplings.

Lydia said...

Hi, thanks for the recipe. Been searching high and low for it. Gonna make it today or tomorrow and will blog about it.