We all love legends and myths. Across the world, regardless of backgrounds and beliefs, we all celebrate many traditions which have their roots in ancient legends. So what is exactly the Dragon Boat Festival in Singapore?
(featured image credits: http://travelinsingapore.com)
The Dragon Boat festival or Duanwu festival is one such festival celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar across China, Singapore, and other Asian countries. Interestingly enough, on this day, people celebrate the life of a famous poet, Qu Yuan, by almost re-living the day of his death. According to legend, on this day of the Chinese lunar calendar, the patriotic poet drowned himself in the river of Miluo in China to avoid witnessing the capture of his capital city. In order to save the poet, the locals raced in boats to find him. Meanwhile, some villagers banged drums to ward off evil spirits and some others dropped rice into the river so as to distract the flesh-eating fish in the river from eating the poet’s body.
So, which food does this festival crave?
Following from the legend, rice dumplings, or Zongzi became a big part of the tradition during this festival along with the dragon boat race. Also called Bak Chang in Singapore, these dumplings are traditionally made in either bamboo or reed leaves and steamed with a sticky rice filling.
With the rapid evolution of the world around it, Bak Chang has also been evolving over the years. To keep up with increased dietary restrictions and health consciousness, many restaurants have created vegetarian and gluten-free versions of the dumplings. This includes the usage of a variety of ingredients ranging from whole grains, mushrooms, vegetables, and quinoa. Respecting the symbolism of double 5’s in the festival, it is also tradition to create fillings containing 5 beans or 5 grains. Although, pork meat, roasted duck and chicken fillings will always be all-time favorites.
To distinguish themselves on a dish so local and iconic, many restaurants are also recreating the dumplings in various ways. Originally served as a conical shaped dumpling, these days, Bak Chang is also being steamed in cylindrical bamboo tubes, or as rectangular cakes. Many others also incorporate popular food trends like salted egg, truffles or Japanese blue pea flower. Imagine, crystal blue dumplings! Catering to the wide economic spread in Singapore, rice dumplings, especially during festivities, can be found everywhere. All the way from street food stalls to Michelin-starred restaurants, everyone wants to set themselves apart even if only by using different kinds of leaves such as lotus and ginger to develop different combinations of aromas and flavors.
The sheer flexibility of this simple yet delicious dish to adapt to different taste buds across the world is a good reason for the dish to have a festival of its own! In fact, due to the importance of rice dumplings during the Dragon Boat festival, the festival itself has come to be known as the “Dumpling festival”!
Singapore is home to a myriad of flavors influenced by the many cultures it is home to. Whether you like your dumplings sweet or savory, dragon-shaped or boat-shaped, there exists a dumpling for everyone. Now, the festival may be over, but dragons and dumplings never go out of style, thanks to our selection of vendors available for delivery!