GEORGE TOWN - Septuagenarian Ong Gim Tee, who had been making bak chang for over five decades, decided to use oats as the main ingredient in her dumplings because of her husband's health concerns.
Ong, 75, decided to replace the usual glutinous rice with the healthier option some 12 years back after her husband developed diabetes.
"My late husband loved bak chang but we were worried that glutinous rice might affect his health.
"So, I decided to use oats, which is healthier than glutinous rice. The recipe turned out well," said Ong, who still makes oat dumplings at her home in Jalan Bunga Raya, Gelugor. "I make oat bak chang not only during the Duan Wu festival (Dumpling Festival) but also for other festive occasions and sometimes just for family consumption," she said.
Ong said a 500gm packet of oats could make up to 15 dumplings, and she also used dried shrimps, salted eggs, shallots, white beans, chestnuts, mushrooms and meat. Ong added that the texture of the oat bak chang was also not as sticky as the traditional ones but tasted marvellous.
The Duan Wu festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar to commemorate poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself to protest against corrupt practices in China over 1,000 years ago.
Locals who admired him threw rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to prevent the fish from eating his remains.
This year's celebration falls on Monday.