Fifth of May

Today is the 5th day in the 5th month of the Chinese calendar. It marks the Duanwu Festival which is celebrated as a public holiday in China and by the far-flung Chinese diaspora.

In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also known in the Fujian dialect as the 5th Month Festival (五月節).

Folklore has it that dissident hero Qu Yuan commited suicide on that day (in year 278 BCE) by drowning. Sympathisers threw rice dumplings into the river so fishes would not eat the poet’s body. The recovery of his body is also thought to be the origin of the Dargon Boat Festival.

In South East Asia, the festival is observed with the giving and eating of triangular glutinous rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo or lotus leaves. Photographed here is the Hokkien ‘bak chang’ which is whiter and its filling includes salted duck egg yolk, mushrooms, heh bee (dried shrimps), dried scallops and chestnuts. The savoury Cantonese ‘chung’ is darker and have more beans. I like the Nyonya version which has minced meat and is spicy. There are also sweet and meatless ‘zongzi’ versions.

Olympus OM-D, ISO 200, f4.5, 1/100 sec with Snapseed Vintage Filter.

Hokkien Bak Chang

Savoury Meat Dumpling

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