Tuesday May 30, 2006
A lifestyle as closeknit as a dumpling
By LIM CHIA YING
IN THE small and tranquil Kampung Sungai Pelek in Sepang, its residents are busy preparing for tomorrows Dumpling Fest.
They mix meat, mushrooms, egg yolk and other ingredients into glutinous rice, wrap the outer leaf strands tightly before waiting patiently as the dumplings boil for hours in a hot pot.
The chang is prepared in about the same way elsewhere, except that in Kampung Sungai Pelek, the delicacy reflects the very way of life in the quiet township.
If the dumpling is synonymous to the community, then its preparation is akin to the residents way of life.
When a son or daughter in one family is about to married, we will all come together to help with the wedding preparations, said Tee Sek Hoon who was born and raised in Kampung Sungai Pelek.
The scene is similar should a woman go into labour and her family members do not have transportation or arent there, she said. She can count on someone in the area to rush her to the hospital.
This good neighbourliness alone sets Kampung Sungai Pelek apart from other towns. And, it is for the same spirit that the place has earned a country charm so rare among villages today.
Tees mother Kuek Kim Luan said festivities further strengthened ties among the residents.
We all know each other well, she said. Its unlike in cities where people are caught up in the rat race that they have hardly time to greet even their immediate neighbours.
Kuek, like many of the older generation in the town, is concerned that Kampung Sungai Peleks old-world charm would fade someday. Already, her daughter has moved on to start a restaurant business in Klang.
My children do not even know how to wrap a dumpling, said Kuek. Over time, it may become a lost tradition.
Kuek learnt the art from her mother-in-law.
I had to keep the Chinese tradition going and learned to master it over time, she said. But, I am slow at wrapping the dumplings.
Kueks relatives and friends help to get the dumplings ready in time for the festival.
My mum is a perfectionist, said Tee. She takes a long time to ensure the corners of every dumpling are sharp. And, she makes sure each one is of the same size as the other.
Being a Hokkien, Kuek makes the bak chang that contains pork meat, mushroom, egg yolks and dried oyster fillings. These are then wrapped in glutinous rice before being put to boil for two hours.
Kuek could also make the vegetarian ones that would be eaten dipped in kaya.
The meat ones are for the Chinese deity Earth God while the vegetarian dumplings would be served to Goddess of Mercy before we consume them, said Kuek. It has been a tradition for so long that we just continue with it.
Once the dumplings are ready, Kuek, like others in the area, would exchange them for those made by relatives, neighbours and friends. It has become somewhat of a culture in Kampung Sungai Pelek.
After weve had our share, well compare whose dumplings taste the best and praise or criticise it, said Kuek. If someones is too sweet or salty, shell work on remedying it the next time around.
By simply doing this, we are sharing our thoughts and bonding without really realising it, she said. It is something that keeps us close to one another. Just like the ingredients in the dumpling.