These dark dumplings are the Hokkien variation, and are the most commonly eaten during the Dragon Boat festival in Southeast Asia.
The rice is seasoned with plenty of dark soya sauce and garlic and stay very fragrant in spite of the long cooking period. Dumplings should be generously seasoned because the prolonged boiling will leach the saltiness from the dumplings.
Makes 30 to 40 dumplings
2 kg glutinous rice, washed and soaked
500g pork hock with skin, cut into thick chunks
100g lean pork, sliced
30-40 small dried shiitake mushrooms
30-40 dried Chinese chestnuts
10 cloves garlic, chopped
Soy sauce, five-spice powder, salt and pepper to taste
20 salted egg yolks, cut into halves
3 to 4 bundles bamboo leaves, plus reeds or raffia to tie
1. Drain glutinous rice and place in a colander to dry.
2. Marinate both pork hock and lean pork with 2 tablespoon light soya sauce, 2 tablespoon dark soya sauce and plenty of salt and pepper.
3. Heat up oil in a large frying pan and fry garlic till lightly golden. Add drained rice and season with more dark soya sauce and a little five-spice powder. Just toss enough to mix in garlic and seasoning. Remove to big mixing bowl.
4. Make a cone with two bamboo leaves and add a spoon of rice. Add the two types of pork, chestnut and mushroom, and half an egg yolk.
5. Cover mixture with more glutinous rice.
6. Fold over bamboo leaf to make a pyramid and secure with a piece of reed or raffia.
7. Tie dumplings into bundles of 10 or 12 and thread onto a wooden spoon or long rolling pin. Hang over a pot of boiling water and cook for at least three to four hours. Keep adding boiling water to keep the heat constant.
8. When dumplings are cooked, they come away from the leaves easily and the rice will stick together. If they break apart into loose grains, you have to cook it longer.
9. Store cooked dumplings in a cool place, preferably in the fridge. Do not keep more than a week.
Pauline is a journalist, culinary researcher and cookbook author with a particular interest in food culture and history. Currently working on her fourth and fifth cookbooks, Pauline also maintains a food and travel column in China daily, China's largest English news publication.