Bazang — Dumplings that Will Save You from the Fishies

31 05 2009
Filling BazangOkay, maybe the headline is a bit misleading. You see, you can’t actually EAT the bazang if you want protection from the fishies.

It all started out with a guy called “Qu Yuan” (屈原) who lived during the Warring States period in China (aka: a long time ago). He loved his country, but those in power deemed him a traitor so he jumped in a lake. But the people loved him, so they made glutinous rice dumplings (called bazang “肉粽” in Taiwanese, or zongzi “粽子” in Mandarin) and tossed them in the water. That was so the fish would eat the dumplings instead of Mr. Qu. (Inidentally, they also rowed dragon boats out into the waters to search for his body, hence the name “Dragon Boat Festival.”)

These days, people still toss the dumplings in water, but only to cook them. Continue reading to see a photo essay of my virgin bazang-wrapping experience with the Wang family in Taipei County. Or watch a video here (courtesy of Maggie & Tom… thanks!)

Ah Hsiang soakes the round glutinous rice in water.

Ah Hsiang soaks the round-grain glutinous rice in water.

Mrs. Wang stir-fries the bazang filing -- pork, mushrooms, dried shrimp, dried turnip, and spices.

Mrs. Wang stir-fries the bazang filing -- pork, mushrooms, dried shrimp, dried turnip, and spices.

Mrs. Wang stir-fries the rice and boiled peanut mixture with soy sauce, "five spices" (五香), salt and pepper.

She stir-fries the rice and boiled peanut mixture with soy sauce, "five spices" (五香), salt and pepper.

Mrs. Wang -- our bazang expert -- demonstrates how to wrap one of the dumlings.

Mrs. Wang -- our bazang expert -- demonstrates how to wrap the dumplings.

Mrs. Wang shows me how to hold the leaf correctly, with the shiny side up.

Mrs. Wang shows me how to hold the leaf correctly, with the shiny side up.

I make my final fold... but will it be an ill-fated movie? Listen to the show.

I make my final fold... but will it be an ill-fated move? Listen to the show to find out (listening details below).

Maggie may not be as hard-core a wrap artist as her mom, but she's much better than me.

Maggie may not be as hard-core a wrap artist as her mom, but she's much better than me.

Tom

Yeah, Tom is a more prolific wrap star than me too.

Cluster of Bazang

Mrs. Wang ties the bazang to the water faucet, and then snips off the excess leafage. Once she has a sizeable cluster, she snips them off and drops the whole bunch in a steamer.

Steamer

Rub-a-dub-dub. Four bazang in a... bamboo steamer.

Ahhh... now that's a bazang that needs to be in my mouth. Right. Now.

Ahhh... now that's a bazang that needs to be in my mouth. Right. Now.

Ellen holds mini dessert bazang.

Ellen holds mini dessert bazang.

I went for a hike on Sunday, and by accident came across what I thought looked like shell-shaped flowers. The leaves also resembled the ones we used to wrap the dumplings, so I slit one of the leaves and took a smell. Sure enough, it smelled exactly like the leaves favored by Mrs. Wang. This is what they look like in nature!

I went for a hike on Saturday, and by accident came across what I thought looked like shell-shaped flowers. The leaves also resembled the ones we used to wrap the dumplings, so I slit one of the leaves and took a smell. Sure enough, it smelled exactly like the leaves favored by Mrs. Wang. This is what they look like in nature!

You can find more pictures of our bazang-making experience here (courtesy of Tom and Maggie).

To listen to this episode of Feast Meets West, click on one of the tiny links next to “Saturday” in the upper-left-hand corner of the RTI web site. Feast Meets West begins at about 10 minutes into the program.

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3 responses

31 05 2009
Easy

listened to your show, love it, i can almost smell and taste those zhong-zi!

i need to go get something to eat now

31 05 2009
taiwandroo

Thanks for sharing the bazang with me! I sooo could eat one right now.

31 05 2009
Michael Stevenson

Wow, I’m not sure about the wrap but the filling is welcome anytime past my lips!! What a great set of photos too, thanks guys for providing us with a look at this Taiwanese culinary delight, we need smelli-radio and tasti-radio. Perhaps a set of smells on some paper could be posted out and we scratch the one for this particular episode of Feast Meets West!?

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