Malay street food : Kiam bak chang (Hokkien dumpling)


After grazing our way through some other areas of Malaysia we made our way up to Georgetown, Penang (or Pinang), lauded as the food capital of Asia, street food mecca, whatever. We had high hopes. 

Penang is world famous for having a cultural melting pot of Indian, Chinese and Malay population who all contributed to the culinary landscape.
Penang did not disappoint, in fact it was probably better than expected – One thing; if you’re planning on eating like it’s your last week alive don’t visit during the lunar new year festivities.

One of the best things about travelling stomach first is that sometimes you get to discover things you had no idea existed. I was  aware that sticky rice parcels were popular in Chinese and South East Asian communities, but I was unaware of the variations, and specialties. In Malaysia, we were lucky enough to try both kiam bak chang in Penang and Nonya dumplings in Melaka.

Kiam bak chang is a savoury meat dumpling, it’s popular with the Hokkien community. It’s eaten as part of their Lunar New Year celebrations, which is where we were happy to discover it.

According to my internet research they can also be called Zong zi, Salted pork dumpling and also savoury rice dumpling

Kiam Bak Chang

Kiam Bak Chang

The ingredients are a mix of pork belly, chestnuts, mushrooms, Chinese sausage and dried shrimps with a boiled egg yolk (no white) delicately situated in the middle. It absolutely tastes as good as it sounds.

From speaking with the lady in Melaka who made the sweet, Nonya dumplings, they are a time consuming process – the rice must be soaked overnight, and the steaming takes a long time as well to make the parcel gelatinous.

My experience of these disappeared in a few delicious mouthfuls and unfortunately we didn’t find them again during our time in Malaysia. This blog has a bit more history, for anyone that is interested and a time consuming (but definitely worthwhile) recipe.


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