Monday, November 21, 2022


It's one of those things you associate with a Cantonese grandma, old ladies selling them along Stockton Street for extra cash, and an itinerant old fellow with a woven tray walking along Gang Petjok near Taman Palewan same route same time everyday. Local recipes differ, but essentially it's meat chunks and glutinous rice steamed in a tight leaf packet, a simple lunch, satisfying also late at night: Batjang. Joong. Dwuong. 粽子 ('jung ji').

End of the rainy season, darkness, night. The tall bamboo behind Mr. Tansong's building creaks earily, and faint light streams into the kitchen. The bacang bought earlier from the street seller are on a plate under a basket, one in the steamer will be ready soon, there is chilipaste with fishpaste in a small saucer. Hot tea in the thermos flasks on the side table.
I'll smoke a pipe outside afterwards.

The additional ingredients vary, of course. The Cantonese like peanuts or yellow beans and preserved egg yolk, and often a thick slice of lapcheung, Fujianese favour dried mushrooms, and as a peculiarity in Indonesia and Malaysia instead of fatty pork belly it's often made with chicken or beef because of local sensibilities. Also, the meat might be shredded, and non-traditional spices added which after all these years have become traditional.
But the item is still recognizable in all its variants.
Great with a drizzle soy sauce.
Or a glob of sambal.

Never saw it for sale in Holland when I lived there, but "aunties" made it. So I happily recognized it in SF Chinatown, and South East Asia.
Most people do not make it at home. It's laborious, requires a skill set, and takes hours. Here in SF it's one of those things you purchase on a whim, often at bakeries or take-out counters, to bring home and eat when the mood strikes. Dump it in the steamer or heat it up in the microwave if you're in a hurry. Good stuff. Soul food.

So of course I'm not planning to eat it today. I think I'll have steamed chive and pork dumplings and a cup of milk tea instead. But I'll probably buy a few jung for later when I'm down in Chinatown, seeing as I have to visit my bank there anyway. As well as head out of the house to smoke, seeing as my apartment mate (who also likes jung, but calls them "doo'ng" instead, being a Toishanese speaker), is a fervent non-smoker.

I go to Chinatown a lot. It's an excuse to eat and smoke.

NOTE: Readers may contact me directly:
All correspondence will be kept in confidence.

No comments:

Search This Blog


One of my earliest grammar school memories naturally involves chocolate. Of which I was fonder than many of my classmates, who preferred Dut...