In a couple of weeks, the Dragon Boat Festival will beckon, and that means gearing up to indulge in the ever-popular Chinese treat: rice dumplings – or more fondly referred to as bak zhang.
Traditionally, these bamboo leaf-wrapped glutinous rice tetrahedrons are stuffed with braised pork, mung beans, and salted egg yolks. But what began as a humble yet hearty dish has evolved into gastronomic new styles that befit contemporary tastes. Think foie gras, caviar, black truffle and more.
As Dragon Boat festivities roar back to life this year, check out these acclaimed establishments for the best rice dumplings to savour all season long.
As with every Dragon Boat Festival, Hai Tien Lo whips up their signature handcrafted rice dumplings just in time for celebratory get-togethers. Perfect for impressing crowds, their Traditional Jumbo Rice Dumpling with Abalone is stuffed with pork belly, salted egg yolk, chestnuts, green beans, lotus seeds, and an indulgent whole abalone. Back by popular demand this year are the Classic Taiwanese Dumpling with Sesame Oil Chicken, Cantonese Pork Dumpling, and their sweet Teochew Dumpling which pays homage to the iconic orh nee.
Orchard Hotel’s Hua Ting marries tradition with global inspirations for their latest series of rice dumplings. Curated by award-winning Master Chef Lap Fai, the umami-laden range includes a classic glutinous rice dumpling elevated with South African abalone, pork belly, and roasted duck. Another unique take on the classic dumpling features foie gras, black truffle, and portobello mushroom. Chef Fai also spices up the offerings by pairing their savoury dumplings with Hua Ting’s signature house-made X.O Chilli Sauce in a pocket-friendly combo.
Min Jiang picks up cues from well-loved local flavours, and adds their own flair by weaving in some rather unexpected ingredients for the celebration this year. The Laksa Dumpling with Sambal Chilli, for instance, sees a spice mix of chillies, lemongrass, and laksa leaves, along with shredded chicken and sakura ebi. There’s also the Bak Kut Teh Dumpling, with its full-bodied peppery flavour owing to the use of whole peppercorns, fried garlic, and Chinese herbs. For those looking who prefer something more conventional, reach for their Classic Hokkien-style Dumpling.
Paradise Group presents two new tempting creations to reel in glutinous rice dumpling fans this year. Their Specialty Truffle Char Siew Rice Dumpling and Novel “Nonya” Spicy Pork Rice Dumpling are ones to really savour, featuring incredibly juicy Spanish Duroc pork at their core. If that’s not enough, feast on the Specially Curated Rice Dumpling Gift Set, which includes the Premium Abalone Rice Dumpling, Pork with Conpoy and Chestnut Rice Dumpling, Red Bean Paste Rice Dumpling, Novel ”Nonya” Spicy Pork Rice Dumpling, and Homemade Spicy Dried Shrimp Paste – perfect for both intimate and large gatherings.
Trying to be a little healthier? The Chinese Rice Wine Salt-Baked Chicken Rice Dumpling at Wan Hao might just be your new go-to. It features a local spin on salt-baked chicken, brined with nourishing ingredients including Chinese wine and dry ginger powder. Also worth trying is the all-new Abalone with Karasumi & Conpoy Rice Dumpling that’s built on gastronomic gold. Locally inspired crowd favourites such as a pork and salted egg creation, and a white pepper crab dumpling are also available.