Bak Chang (or zhongzi) is ancient Chinese dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. You can read about it here. They are widely sold in Malaysia where I once lived though I never paid much notice to them then.
Photo from Wikipedia:
But a week ago, a Facebook friend whom I have never met visited me in Phuket. She brought six of those heavenly pyramids for me and we sat on my terrace eating them, watching the Phuket rain and drinking English tea. We laughed uproariously about life in Kuala Lumpur, and ate another one each. I had two left. I savoured them and put out a SOS on Facebook asking if anyone knew where I could buy them in Phuket. But they are not available here.
So what are my options? (actually, if we are thinking philosophically, this is my attitude to life)
(1) I could be yogic and accept that I will not be able to have them, i.e. practice non-attachement;
(2) Get them couriered over from Malaysia (and there were enough folks willing to help me);
(3) Make them myself, despite the many people telling me that it is difficult and complicated.
Of course (3). When I want something / someone, I want with a raging passion. Nothing could stop me.
My biggest challenge is that I don’t cook Asian food. It would cost me a lot to buy everything from scratch, if I can find them but to my surprise, it does not require that many exotic things. In any event, I cannot find dried water chestnuts, salted eggs and glutinous rice (maybe I do not know where to look). The biggest problem was I could not find bamboo leaves and bamboo strings.
The good news was it is actually easy to make, with improvisation. The sauces needed are just oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, Chinese rice wine (I used sherry), five spice powder and lots of white pepper. The filling can be anything you wish: meat, dried shrimps, salted egg yolk, water chestnuts, beans. Soak rice overnight. Marinate everything in the sauce overnight, and sauté it the next morning with half the marinade sauce. Remove from pan; now sauté the soaked rice with the remaining marinate sauce. Pack them into pyramids and boil for an hour or so.
As for the wrapping, I used banana leaf from my friend Richard’s garden. I even made the string with banana leaf!
And here is the end-product. The word impossible does not exist, folks, and it is also the attitude with which you face challenges in life: I didn’t find making bak chang difficult at all!
PS. My Ma was right all along: if you can cook, you will be alright in life. Article here.