The Chinese Delicacy Known as Ma Chang

Ma Chang which is Hokkien for Zong Zi.  This is a dish that is made from sticky rice, pork, shrimp, boiled egg and mushrooms to name a few.  It has some names such as bachang which the Filpino language later calls it as ma chang.  The ingredients are shaped like a cone, wrapped on lotus leaves (though other varations use banana leaves, maize leaves or pandan leaves as substitute) and are slowly cooked through steam for several hours of need be.  In the Philippines, this may also be considered as a Chinese version to valenciana, a Filipino food that uses almost the same ingredients as ma chang but it is cooked differently hence each dish comes with its own unique flavor.  Ma chang also has Singaporean, Indonesian, Malaysian and Filipino versions and maybe, everywhere Chinese went, their food ended up getting blended for better or for worse.

So what's the legend behind this Chinese food ma chang?  A popular legend has it that it was in honor of the Chinese poet Qu Yuan.  During the warring states period, Qu Yuan who was unable to warn his king and countrymen against expansionism drowned himself in the Miluo River.  The story goes on that people threw rice to prevent the fish from eating his body.  They were once considered special food but has in later years become a very common food.  For example, some Filipino restaurants have even Filipinized it just as it was Indonesianalized, Malaysianized and Singaporeanized it resulting to different variations though they all are traced to Chinese origin.


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