No Sis, It’s Osmosis

Osmosis, that’s the word I couldn’t recall. I’m in Kuala Lumpur! It feels like home even though I’m still a fair distance from Penang, my birthplace. To welcome us, my sister-in-law made us a bunch of rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. She knows our penchant for bachang ( in Hokkien) or Zongzi, in Mandarin. She has raved for years about how delicious her Zongzi is, her adoring and very biased husband praising them as the most delicious and incomparable Zongzi ever.

Finally, I got to sink my crooked teeth, (recently described by my dentist as in immaculate condition) into one of her famed dumplings. OMG, she wasn’t blowing her trumpet at all and he didn’t “blow cow” 吹牛 either. Hers is the best! And then, the inevitable happened. I needed to find out how to make these delectable heavenly dumplings, to prise from her the well guarded recipe. Using a disarming body language and a disinterested voice, espionage skills learned from the spy novelist, John Le Carre, I managed to tease out the truth, even before my cup of tea turned lukewarm. I had the same recipe except for one thing. I didn’t remember my High School Physics. The secret is all about osmosis. You need to add salt to the water before you boil the Zongzi, otherwise the salty flavours inside will flow out of the dumplings. Simple Physics, no in-depth analysis necessary of why her Zongzi is rated so highly.

Her secret recipe ( not fully disclosed ):


  • Bamboo leaves for wrapping Zongzi
  • String for tying Zongzi
  • Pork meat with some fat ( cut into bite size)
  • Chinese five spice powder
  • Chinese mushrooms
  • Sun-dried prawns
  • Chinese sausage, 1/2 bite size
  • Duck egg yolk
  • Garlic and Shallots
  • Pinch of salt

Pot of boiling water: Add salt and pandan leaf

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