GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - What started off as a hobby has now turned into something bigger for homemaker Chew Lay Poon as her friends and relatives heaped praises on her glutinous rice dumplings (bak chang in Hokkien).
She even had to stop taking orders for the dumplings three weeks before the Dumpling Festival, which is celebrated today, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month.
Chew, 55, roped in her family members to prepare 1,200 dumplings, 1,500 Japanese rice dumplings and 1,500 crystal dumplings (kee chang) for the past two weeks.
“I never thought my bak chang would be such a big hit. I learned the art of making it from my mother 16 years ago because my children love to eat them. I also wanted to keep this tradition alive.
“After giving some to my friends and relatives, they gave good feedback and the orders kept coming,” said Chew, who was seen patiently guiding her grandchildren Lim Yuen Yee, nine, and Lim Yuen Min, four, in wrapping dumplings at her apartment in Macallum Street Ghaut yesterday.
Even netizens have been rating her dumplings, giving her the thumbs-up on the Penang Food Hunter Facebook page.
Two of her three children – Lim Chee Seng, 35, and Yen Mei, 29 – had to take several days leave from their work just to get the orders ready before the festival.
The corridor of her apartment has been transformed into a makeshift kitchen with big cooking pots and ingredients placed on tables.
Chee Seng, who works as a factory section head, said the family members would start cleaning the bamboo leaves before leaving them to dry.
He said both he and his father Chin Joo, 58, would then do the “heavy stuff” by placing the dumplings into a big pot to be slow-cooked for four hours.
“Prior to that, we have to boil the water for an hour before placing 200 dumplings into the pot. My father also helps to fry the glutinous rice.
“My sister helps my mother wrap the dumplings. Even my wife has a role as she would wait for customers and pass them their orders,” he said.
Chee Seng said their bak chang, Japanese rice dumplings and crystal dumplings were priced at RM5.50, RM6 and RM1.20 respectively.
Customers could place their orders through their Facebook page called “Ah Poon 386 Traditional Bak Zhang”.
“We make the dumplings all year round as long as there is a minimum order of 10 with two days advance notice,” he said.