Thursday, May 28, 2009

Happy Dumpling Day!

Today, fifth day of the fifth lunar month (known as double-fifth) is Dumpling Day. This festival is one of the major Chinese festivals that the Chinese community celebrates in a year. It is not a relgious holiday but celebrated as a matter of tradition or custom.

Legend has it that the Dumpling festival commemorates the death of famous Chinese poet, Qu Yuan (c. 340 - 278 BC) who threw himself into the Milou River out of depression and worry for the future of his homeland.

Villagers carried their dumplings and boats to the middle of the river and desperately tried to save him, but were unsuccessful. In order to keep fish and evil spirits away from his body, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles. They threw rice into the water as a food offering to Qu Yuan and to distract the fish away from his body. However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends and told them that he died because of a river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon. These packages became a traditional food known as zòngzi, although the lumps of rice are now wrapped in reed leaves instead of silk. The act of racing to search for his body in boats gradually became the cultural tradition of which is held on the anniversary of his death every year.

Today, people still eat zòngzi (dumplings) and participate in dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan's sacrifice on the Duan Wu festival, the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. The Koreans later adopted the festival from the Chinese and called it the Dano festival.

Here in Malaysia, dumplings are a popular food item. Y ou can find them all year-round at food stalls and eateries. Over here, leaves from the bamboo plant are used to wrap the rice. The cooking process is by way of boiling the dumplings in a big pot of water. Cooking takes a few hours to ensure the glutinous rice is sufficiently cooked.

Because of the long hours of cooking, dumplings can be left in room temperature for two or three days and still remain good, after which they need to be refrigerated. Steaming them will bring back the soft, moist texture.

Happy Dumpling Day!

Source: Wikipedia


  1. Anonymous2:22 PM

    Happy Dumpling day! I had one this morning. It cost RM5.50! Dumplings aren't cheap these days. Abit disappointed that the chestnut was barely there...just a sliver. I love those with salted egg, chestnut and mushroom.

    The only kind I dislike are the Nyonya dumplings.

  2. Goodness! I didn't even know it's zongzi eating time. TOtally forgotten about that. Maybe I should get some for myself this weekend.

  3. I remember we used to call it Dragon Boat Festival. How come now different!??

  4. Wow so much info about the festival. Thanks, I don't know about this actually. :)

  5. Happy dumpling day to you! Since there are double 5th months this year according to the Chinese Lunar calendar, does that mean we can celebrate Dumpling Day twice? : )

  6. Anonymous12:53 AM

    very interesting trivia, happysurfer!

    I hope the festival was fun.

    BTW, how are you? just dropping by. hope eveything is ok. :)

  7. Mei Teng, what a coincidence that I too go for dumplings with the same kind of fillings that you like - a whole chestnut, salted egg-yolk and flavorful mushroom. Some beans would round up the ensemble. Yum! Yeah, inflation has really caught up.

    Enjoy the dumplings, Ai Shiang. Are yours as good/authentic as those found here?

    KS, probably because dragon boats are now no longer around. It's only in Penang that it is practised. Call it a missing tradition. Sad in a way.

  8. Jim, you are welcome. Isn't Wikipedia wonderful? LOL! Hope it was a fun day for you.

    Foong, traditionally it can be celebrated twice though the emphasis is on the first one.

    Hi Rej, good to have you come by again. Thank you, I am doing just great. Hope you are too.

  9. That's a fascinating story!

    I wonder if Chinese zongzi is the ancestor of Japanese zoni dumplings. It sounds like they're eaten differently, however. Zoni are usually boiled and eaten with broth.

  10. I ate a lot of these dumplings. Ha ;D A great re-tell of the story. A lot still don't know about it.

  11. 2 years in a row with no dumplings for me. *weep*

    grandma doesn't make them anymore. i like mine with just mushrooms and dried shrimps.

    i hope i get dumplings next year. *weep*

  12. MM, there is a possibility considering there are similarities in a lot of other things.

    Zoni are eaten with broth? Interesting. Chinese zongzi can be eaten by itself either as a meal or a snack. For a person with a small appetite, one zongzi can be filling enough washed down with a drink. However, people with gastric problems often try to avoid eating too many zongzi at one go as the glutinous rice can cause some stomach upset.

    T, lucky you.

    Chiaoju, yeah, it's not easy to get dumplings to one's exact tastes. I prefer homemade ones too as the ones outside are sometimes too heavily pepped up with MSG.