Mui Tsz Lam - Hakka Rice Dumplings
“Hakka” means “guest people” in Chinese. A group of Hakka settled in Mui Tsz Lam, a village in North-East New Territories of Hong Kong, since the Qing Dynasty during the 17th Century.
The Hakka people are known for being hardworking and enduring. Since they farmed on less fertile terraces, their food grown is modest and practical. This culture is also reflected in festive foods like rice dumplings for the Tuen Ng Festival, also known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
Making and eating rice dumplings is an essential part of the Tuen Ng Festival.
The festival is associated with the patriotic poet and politician Qu Yuan in the 3rd Century BC, who committed suicide at the river. After his death, people made rice dumplings, threw them into the river, and played drums on the dragon boat, hoping that fish would not eat Qu Yuan’s body.
At present times, people still make rice dumplings every Tuen Ng festival as a tradition, with various recipes passed on in different areas. The Hakka recipe is modest and simple, which utilizes almost all home grown produce including bamboo leaves, sticky rice, peanuts, shallots, and dried shrimp.
After many years of desolation since the 1970s, Mui Tsz Lam villagers come back to their home village to make rice dumplings together for the first time.
The instructions to make a Hakka rice dumpling are as follows:
1. Preparing ingredients
Soak bamboo leaves and sticky rice overnight, and dried shrimps for 15 minutes. When bamboo leaves are soft, clean and cut the top and bottom of bamboo leaves.
2. Chopping and crushing
Mince the soaked dried shrimps and shallots. Crush peanuts and remove skin.
3. Frying the filling
Fry the dried shrimps, shallots and peanuts, first separately until fragrant then together. Set the filling aside.
4. Wrapping the dumpling
With 1 bamboo leaf, place a layer of sticky rice and a layer of filling, then another layer of sticky rice. Wrap around the rice and filling with the same piece of bamboo leaf.
Turn the dumpling to one side and use another piece of bamboo leaf to cover and wrap around. Do the same for the other side, and the dumpling should be completely wrapped around by 3 bamboo leaves. Tie up the dumpling with a piece of string or grass.
Cook the dumpling in boiling water for 3 hours before eating.
Contributed by WaH! Collective
WaH! Collective(Workshops-at-Home Collective) is a Hong Kong based initiative that promotes and documents intangible cultural heritage from the rural areas through workshops and media, in response to the social distancing norm during COVID. The initiative will first focus on Hakka cultural heritage, partnering with villages located in the Northeastern New Territories of Hong Kong.