Learn how to easily make delicious Nyonya chang with Instant Pot pressure cooker or regular boiling method with step-by-step photos.
WHAT IS NYONYA CHANG ?
Nyonya cuisine or sometimes you will refer to as Peranakan cuisine is a hybrid between the traditional Chinese and Malay cooking. The term Nyonya or Peranakan is commonly used in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore where both Chinese and Malay influence exist. Nyonya chang is basically a variation of the traditional Chinese zong zi created by the peranakan people.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NYONYA CHANG AND OTHER ZONGZI (BAK CHANG)
The Nyonya chang is typically characterized by its blue color on some part of the dumplings more often than not, though not always.
The filling is infused with a strong Malay spice we know as coriander seeds (don’t be mistaken with coriander leaves, which is totally different in aroma and taste) or we call it ketumbar in Indonesia. The ketumbar is really what makes it so aromatic.
Chinese zong zi is savory in taste. Nyonya chang taste more at the sweet side than savory, which is pretty typical when coriander seeds are used in a meat filling. Coriander seeds pair well with sweet taste.
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS RECIPE
1. YOU CAN COOK NYONYA CHANG IN INSTANT POT PRESSURE COOKER
It seriously saves lots of time by doing so. I don’t even need to soak the glutinous rice for hours. Boiling method will take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Pressure cooking takes 45 minutes! I could probably get away with 40 minutes, but 45 minutes turned out great.
2. INGREDIENT SUBSTITUTION
Traditional Nyonya chang uses winter melon candies in the recipe. It’s not something I can find here and I just use regular Chinese rock sugar and the pork filling is still delicious. So there’s really no need to go worldwide hunting for this.
COOK’S TIPS TO MAKE NYONYA CHANG MAKING LESS OVERWHELMING
Trying to do everything on the same day will seriously leave you breathless and frustrated. It can easily turn into a whole-day event. So here’s what you can do:
1. PREPARE THE THINGS YOU CAN DO THE DAY BEFORE
– Soak bamboo leaves in water
– Cook the pork filling
– Soak glutinous rice (if you are not using pressure cooker to cook). You can skip this part if you’ll use pressure cooker
2. ON THE DAY OF WRAPPING AND COOKING
– Discard water from soaking the rice. If not soaking the rice, simply rinse the rice with clean water and toss with salt
– Prepare blue pea extract to color some of the rice blue
– You are pretty much ready to wrap the Nyonya chang at this point
Let’s prepare the pork filling first shall we?
HOW TO MAKE NYONYA CHANG FILLING
1. Soak mushrooms in hot water until they are soft and plump. Cut into little pieces
2. Preheat a large skillet or wok. Add cooking oil. Add shallots and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute
3. Add the ground bean paste and stir fry for another 30 seconds
4. Add the pork
5. Continue to stir fry until the pork turns opaque
6. Add mushrooms and sugar, rock sugar, coriander powder, and ground white pepper. Stir to mix everything
7. The final taste should be sweeter than savory. Add more sugar if needed. Add a small pinch of salt if needed too
Adjust the taste to your liking
8.Let it cool down and then cover and store in the refrigerator until the next day
HOW TO WRAP NYONYA ZONGZI
Yes I know the wrapping part can be overwhelming or a turn-off to most people. I have to admit that it does take some practice. The more you do it, the better you are at it. The first few dumplings you wrap may not be as nice, but you will get the hang of it. It’s harder than it looks.
1. Use two bamboo leaves and place one on top of the other, I kinda slightly overlap them a bit to give a bit more space
2. Fold in the middle
3. and then shape into a cone
4. Place one small piece of pandan leaf on the side of the cone
5. Scoop in about a tablespoon of the blue rice. Use the back of the spoon to slightly pack it down
6. Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of the pork filling on top of the blue rice. Again use the back of the spoon to lightly pack it down
7. Top up with more white glutinous rice, leaving about 1/4-inch from the top
8. There are many ways to wrap zong zi, you can use whichever way you are comfortable with. I fold one side down
9. Fold the opposite site down
10. They don’t necessarily have to cover the rice after both sides being folded down
11. Fold the top part down
12. It will look like this now
13. Fold the two wings on the side down
14. Now you have this extra piece on top
15. Simply fold it down to either one of the side
16. There you have it
17. Tie with a kitchen twine or bamboo strings to secure it
It ain’t that bad, is it? LOL! It really isn’t that bad! I promise. It took me many rounds to get comfortable with it too when I did this last year. This year I’m definitely better at it.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVER NYONYA CHANG
Storing:I recommend to store them in the fridge after they have cooled down completely the next day. You can keep them in the fridge for 5 days. If you plan to store it longer, freeze them and they can be kept for 3 months
Reheating: They can be reheated without thawing by steaming over high heat for 10 minutes.
Please weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.
For rice dumplings:
- 500 gr glutinous rice
- 1 tsp salt
To make blue color for the dumplings:
- 1 cup dried blue pea flower
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 8 dried shitake mushrooms
- 3 Tbsp cooking oil
- 6 shallots - peeled, finely chopped
- 5 garlic - peeled, finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp ground bean paste (tau cheo)
- 500 gr pork butt/shoulder/or ground pork with some fat - cut into little pieces if not using ground pork
- 50 gr Chinese rock sugar
- 50 gr sugar
- 3 Tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 24 -30 pieces bamboo leaves
- 4 pandan leaves - cut each leave into 3 smaller pieces
- Kitchen twine
Things to prepare the day before:
- Soak the dried bamboo leaves in water until they are soft
- If you are not using a pressure cooker to cook the rice dumplings, soak the glutinous rice for at least 4 hours or longer. Overnight is best if you have time
Cook the pork filling:
- Soak mushrooms in hot water until they are soft and plump. Cut into little pieces
- Preheat a large skillet or wok. Add cooking oil. Add shallots and garlic and stir fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the ground bean paste and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the pork. Continue to stir fry until the pork turns opaque. Add mushrooms and sugar, rock sugar, coriander powder, and ground white pepper. Stir to mix everything. The final taste should be sweeter than savory. Add more sugar if needed. Add a small pinch of salt if needed too. Adjust the taste to your liking. Let it cool down and then cover and store in the refrigerator until the next day
On the day you plan to wrap the dumplings:
- Drain off the water from soaking the bamboo leaves. Give the leaves a quick rinse of water and they are ready to be used
- Place dried blue pea flower in a bowl. Pour in hot water
- Use a spoon to press the flowers into the water and let it steep for 15 minutes. After that, squeeze out any extra water from the flower and the extract is ready to be used
- If you soak the rice, discard water. If you don't soak the rice (because you are going to use a pressure cooker), rinse the rice in clean water. Drain off water. Mix the rice with 1 tsp of salt
- Take out about 100 gr of the rice and place it on a bowl. Add about 4 Tbsp of the blue pea flower extract and mix it with the rice
- The rice will pick up the blue hue color
How to wrap the zongzi:
- Get the blue rice, pork filling, glutinous rice, and bamboo leaves to your work station
- Use two bamboo leaves and place one on top of the other, I kinda slightly overlap them a bit to give a bit more space
- Fold in the middle
- and then shape into a cone
- Place one small piece of pandan leaf on the side of the cone
- Scoop in about a tablespoon of the blue rice. Use the back of the spoon to slightly pack it down
- Scoop about 2-3 tablespoons of the pork filling on top of the blue rice. Again use the back of the spoon to lightly pack it down
- Top up with more white glutinous rice, leaving about 1/4-inch from the top
- There are many ways to wrap zongzi, you can use whichever way you are comfortable with. I fold one side down
- Fold the opposite site down
- They don't necessarily have to cover the rice after both sides being folded down
- Fold the top part down
- It will look like this now
- Fold the two wings on the side down
- Now you have this extra piece on top
- Simply fold it down to either one of the side
- There you have it
- Tie with a kitchen twine or bamboo strings to secure it
Cooking with Instant Pot pressure cooker:
- Place the zong zi in the inner pot of instant pot. I can cook 12 zongzi in my 6-quart instant pot. Fill up with water to make sure it covers the zongzi
- Cover the lid. Turn the steam release valve to seal. Press "pressure cooker" and make sure it's on "high pressure". Set the timer to 45 minutes. I think I could get away with 40 minutes, but 45 minutes give me a good result. Wait 5 minutes and then fully release pressure
- Carefully open the lid and use a tong to gently remove the zongzi from the pot to a cooling rack. Let the water drips down. The zongzi will still be soft to touch. I recommend waiting 24 hours before eating them
Boiling on the stove:
- Place the zongzi in a large pot. Add in water until it covers the zong zi. Bring water to a boil and then lower heat to medium, cover with a lid and let it boil for the next 2 1/2 to 3 hours
- Carefully use a tong to gently remove the zongzi from the pot to a cooling rack to let it cool down for 24 hours before eating them. They will still be soft to touch, but will firm up once they are cooled down completely
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