Rice dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings–usually pork or chicken–and wrapped in bamboo leaves before being steamed or boiled.
Nyonya rice dumplings are unique, as they were created by the Peranakans, whose cuisine is a blend of traditional Chinese and indigenous Malay elements. Nyonya dumplings are usually wrapped in pandan leaves because they are easier to source in Southeast Asia, where the Peranakan community mostly resides. While rice dumplings were traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival–an annual commemoration of the Zhou Dynasty poet and minister Qu Yuan–in Singapore, they’re eaten at all times of the year.
In this short video, Tan gets acquainted with some of the most vibrant spots in Singapore, such as the durian stalls lining the streets of Geylang and the Peranakan enclave that is Katong. While wandering the streets of Katong and Joo Chiat, Tan pops by Kim Choo Kueh Chang–a 75-year-old eatery specializing in Nyonya rice dumplings–to learn how to make the traditional meal.
Here, the filling is flavored with Chinese five-spice powder and made with diced (not minced) pork for added texture. Candied winter melon lends a touch of sweetness to the dumpling.
Here are three other places in Singapore where you can enjoy delicious Nyonya rice dumplings.
For a taste of truly traditional Nyonya rice dumplings, try this version from D’Bun, where the rice is marinated with butterfly pea flower extract for that light blue hue. Stuffed with juicy marinated minced pork and winter melon slices, this moreish snack is perfect for breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up.
Eastern Rice Dumpling
With more than 30 years of producing rice dumplings, this family business is a household name. Their version is made with white glutinous rice packed with a generous filling of finely-chopped pork cubes fried with coriander powder.
Hiong Kee Dumplings
Located within the popular Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, this food stall has been serving its delicious rice dumplings for more than 40 years. These Nyonya dumplings are slightly sweeter than traditional recipes and packed with ingredients, so eating one feels like a complete meal all on its own.