Bak Chang

Note: all the photos below are original, none edited

Literally means ‘Meat Dumplings’, a type of traditional food where the meat (usually pork) is stuffed inside glutinous rice together with other fillings and wrapped with bamboo leaves into a triangular shape, which is later tighten with raffia strings and steamed to cook.

We eat Bak Chang during ‘Duan Wu’ festival, or Dumpling Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival, the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar year (Chinese calendar).

Legend has it that a patriotic minister named Qu Yuan jumped into the Mi Luo River and committed suicide as a form of protest against the then corrupted government. Mmm... Now if we want to protest, we just sleep on the street with cardboards in front of the parliament.

Because of this, boats were sent out in search of his body but failed, thus the origin of dragon boat race.

The villagers who had great respect for him started making rice dumplings (now evolved into bak chang) and threw into the river in order to keep the hungry fish away from his body.

‘Duan Wu’ is around the corner. This year, the festival should fall on 19th of June, a week plus from now. And lucky for me, after driving two hours back from KL, I managed to enjoy homemade Bak Chang early this year in my own home. I missed it last year because I was working in KL. :(

Anyway, it’s Saturday morning, I woke up and went out for a saloon visit. Had my hair dyed (bottom layer black) and went back home to find this morning's Bak Chang on the table gone. So I went to the fridge, took out some frozen ones (which my mom and aunt made over the previous weekends) and steamed them in the wok.

steaming bak chang

One piece of advice: Never ever microwave your Bak Chang, ever! Always take the traditional way to heat your Bak Chang. There is no short cut to good food. Remember, STEAM is the ONLY way.

Now, the reason I took two Bak Chang was because I want to show you guys the two types of Bak Chang I am introducing today (No, not because I am greedy and I want to eat both). If you look carefully (unless you’re blind), the two Bak Changs are different in sizes.

Bak Chang
One big one small

Let me show you how to eat a Bak Chang. I’ll start with larger one, also the most common one - Bak Chang, aka Meat Dumpling, which comes in a size slightly larger than a palm. My mom made them extra big with lots of fillings, just the way I like it.

Big Bak Chang

Now, I used to hate Bak Chang, especially those bought from outside, because of five main reasons:

1. They have way too much rice (I don’t eat rice. Don’t ask why. The only time I ever eat rice is when I dine in a Japanese restaurant and they serve really good temaki or sushi roll)
2. They have way too little fillings
3. They have more fats than lean meat
4. They taste blunt (too rice-y)
5. The meat is too hard (I dislike meat)

Being my mom is difficult, because in order to accommodate my pickiness in food, she always find ways to perfect her cooking skill and dishes. I can tell you, she succeeded. Over the past five years, there is nothing I enjoy more than anticipating for the Duan Wu to arrive every year, just so I could eat the dumplings she made.

A perfect Bak Chang (Nicole Version) is:

1. Thin (but not too thin) layer of aromatic rice, sticky yet soft and loose, melts in your mouth
2. Loads of fillings, chestnuts, mushrooms…etc
3. Contain at least 80% of lean meat
4. The whole Chang is full of flavor, including the rice!
5. Super tender meat that is not too hard and not too fatty/oily
6. It HAS to be steamed!

Anyway, back to the Bak Chang I was about to eat. Next, use a scissor to cut the strings,

cut Bak Chang

Slowly undress the Bak Chang,


Reveal the naked Chang,

naked Chang

Now, you can eat the whole thing using the leave as a wrap holder; or eat it my way, on a plate with chopsticks.

Cross section

Tender meat

One word: Heaven!

On to the next Bak Chang! Okay, I want to introduce this smaller Chang because I know a lot of you out there probably had never tried this before. I grew up eating this and you can only find it in Melaka, homemade.


It is called Nyonya Chang.

nyonya chang
My aunt made this.

Yes, that is blue rice!

blue rice

The blue coloring is the natural color extract from blue pea flower.

nyonya chang2

It is also made from glutinous rice, the rice is probably stickier than normal Bak Chang and it is wrapped with a small pandan leave for that hint of aromatic flavor.

But the special part is the inside,

cross section nyonya chang

The fillings are red in color (mini pork and winter melon cubes) and they are sweet, with a hint of salt.

red meat

I tell you, these little babies are wickedly delicious. And the recipe to make the filling is rocket science, the concoction of the Straits spices is enough to make Calculus looks easy.

I don’t think they make good old traditional Nyonya chang on the street anymore. The last time I bought one from a pasar malam (night market), I nearly puked a mouthful, and it didn't even have blue rice. :(

But these~~ Oh gosh, I'll be very grumpy if one day (or year) my aunt don't make these anymore. 364 days is definitely worth the wait!!

red meat2

Blue, white and red…

Ermm… resemble the colors of a Malaysian Flag doesn’t it?


19 kissed Nicole

  1. jiejie nic

    my dad loves nyonya chang .. do you know where i can buy them when i go back end of this week?

  2. i love eating bak chang too.. my mom don't make any of those.. sad... but i think i'm going out and get one myself.. haha

  3. My ultimate favorite still goes to my mom's bak-zhang - boiled painstakingly over wooden fire for hours! I don't like the 'black-eyed-beans' used in most bakzhang recipes. instead, my mom uses mashed greanbeans+onions+herbs for her bakzhang.

    However, in recent times, she has relied on pressure-cooker to cook her zhangs, due to time constraint and the obvious problems/risks due to open-burning.

  4. Cannot use microwave huh? if Bak Zhang and a cup of hot water were put together in the microwave to heat up also cannot ah? I did that usually. anyway, the nyonya dumpling looks so nice and... it is BLUE!! Gosh i didn't see this in KL b4. great to you!

  5. kenny: by putting a cup a water together with whatever you are zapping in the microwave, doesnt constitute to steaming. the wave is just gonna heat up the water and zhang seperately: the water will boil and the zhang will heat up itself turn out dry. however, i've heard of using foil-bag (the one pizzahut uses to tapao your chicken wings) as an option. never tried myself tho.

  6. I wan nyonya zhang! Continuously miss for 2 yrs already..haiz..

  7. The nyonya chang looks like someone punched it and gave it a bad bruise!

  8. Chang... Chang... Chang... great pics!

  9. Nic, you bring some over???

    I love chang the way you like it as well. LOL!!!

  10. holy macooroni... i NEED and I WANT 'bak chang' *panting* & *salivating*
    'sharing is caring' ... are there any left?

  11. i love the nyonya chang

  12. Hi Nicole,

    My name is Zan Azlee and I'm a freelance journalist. I'm currently writing for an IT lifestyle magazine called SURF. Every issue, we feature a local video blogger who we think is interesting. I recently stumbled upon your blog and YouTube site. I think it is quite unique and interesting what you are doing. Would it be possible if I interviewed you for the next issue of the magazine? If you do agree, you can contact me as soon as possible at or 019-3643071. Thanks! Hope to hear from you soon.

  13. "Bak chang day" start on next 19th of June right? lol... And looks like you got an interview! Great.
    Have a nice day..

  14. I tell you Nicole, YOU BETTER BRING SOME OF THOSE FOR ME!!! I was just telling Clare the other day of how much I miss home made bak chang. Like you, I hate street made bak changs. They don't even taste half as nice as the home made ones. Anyway, back to the point. BRING ME SOME BAK CHANGS!!! Otherwise, I am missing home made bak changs this year!!! Please, please, please... hehehe...

  15. Nicole, I am so proud of you. I was getting very tired of you talking about yourself. It's nice to see that you have a different topic that everyone can share and relate to. Thank you for posting.

  16. WHOA!!! AN interview wor!!!

    Oh yeah! Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaasssseeeeee bring some bak chang for me pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaasssssssseeeeeeee!!!

    I'm so desperate!

  17. Misha: As much as I love to tell you where, I don't know it myself :( Maybe you can try

    as for the rest>>
    *stick tongue out* neh neh neh... I got chang and u don't. Kua kua kua kua~~!!! -> especially Alvin
    (girls are exceptions)

    Kennysia: No nyonya chang for you!

  18. Nicole, can you post your Mom's Bak Chang recipe? I live in the US and would like to attempt to make Bak Chang myself.