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Joo Chiat Kim Choo – Which Type of Bak Chang To Buy?

We bought some Joo Chiat Kim Choo bak chang (rice dumplings) from a kiosk in Takashimaya Food Hall in basement 2. Gentle reminder: Dumplings Festival 2023 (端午节 Duan Wu Jie) is just around corner, on Thursday 22 June 2023.

Bak Chang Stalls @ Takashimaya Food Hall

Kim Choo Kueh Chang

Do not confuse Joo Chiat Kim Choo with Kim Choo Kueh Chang. The latter has been operating out of a shophouse in Joo Chiat. They have a clear disclaimer on their website : “Please take note that we do not supply rice dumplings to “Joo Chiat Kim Choo Traditional Rice Dumplings“.  Read more about them in our post The Nyonya Dumplings and Kuehs of Kim Choo Kueh Chang.

Joo Chiat Kim Choo @ Takashimaya Singapore

There are some kiosks selling bak chang in the Takashimaya Food Hall B2 area. Among them is the Joo Chiat Kim Choo stall. It has several flavours to choose from.

What type of Bak Chang to Buy?

There types of bak chang range from the expensive Emperor’s rice dumplings ($18.80 each) to the plain “kee chang” that are priced at $2.50 each. In between there are different types of meat dumplings (bak chang) such as the Hakka dumplings ($8 each) and the Cantonese bean rice dumplings ($3.50 each).

We decided on the Teochew ($7.50 each), Hokkien ($6.30) and Nyonya ($6.50) varieties. These prices are for the regular sized rice dumplings. Some dumplings are offered in three sizes, S, R and L.

Joo Chiat Kim Choo Bak Chang 2023 – Nyonya, Hokkien and Teochew

The dumplings that we bought looked similar on the exterior. Some say that different bak changes may be tied differently. But to our untrained eyes, they look the same. Perhaps the strings have different colours to indicate the differences in content. They were nicely bound – tight and tidy in appearance.


How to Heat Up Rice Dumplings

Rice dumplings can be heated up by steaming or microwave. Steaming may have a more authentic effect, but to us we prefer the ease of the microwave. From room temperature, one minute in the microwave is enough to warm it up. If they have been chilled in the fridge, a longer time is needed. Depending on your microwave power, 2.5 to 3 minutes may be adequate. In case there is a release of steam, we untied the strings and slightly loosened the bamboo leaves before heating.

When the timing is just right (in the case of the Nyonya and Hokkien bak changs, picture above), the leaves peel open cleanly, leaving the pyramid shape intact and beautiful. We tried steaming the Teochew one a bit longer. The extra bit of steam loosened the rice and it crumbled slightly on opening.

Hokkien Bak Chang

Joo Chiat Kim Choo Hokkien bak chang had quite a dark colour. It was basically what we think a meat dumpling or “bak” chang should be. Glutinous rice with pieces of braised pork belly, chestnut and mushroom. The overall taste was meaty and heavy. Each dumpling is about 200g so this could be light lunch for me. But I would be hungry at around 4pm.

 Joo Chiat Kim Choo Nyonya Chang

The Joo Chiat Kim Choo Nyonya rice dumplings look and taste quite different from the usual bak chang. The glutinous rice retains its regular rice colouration, untainted by any gravy. Because of this, it has a lighter taste and is less oily. It is said to be made with minced pork belly, winter melon strips, and JCKC’s secret spice blend. We could not taste the winter melon but the filling of minced pork and secret spice was quite tasty.

Because the meat is minced, rather than chunky bits, this is a soft and easy to eat dumpling. Together with its lighter flavour, I can see why some prefer Nyonya chang to bak chang.

Teochew Rice Dumplings

Our Joo Chiat Kim Choo Teochew bak chang was microwaved one minute more than the others and it showed in the result. It was hotter and the the steam had softened the rice further. If appearance is important, its best to first test one dumpling for the ideal cooking time.

    

In terms of appearance, the JCKC Teochew bak chang looked similar to the Hokkien one. The main difference between the two is that the Teochew dumpling is made with braised pork belly, dried shrimp, chestnut, peanut, red bean paste. We could not really detect the dried shrimp and peanut, but the red beans were quite obvious. To us that is the major difference. The red beans added a sweet dimension to the dumpling. It was certainly interesting to try it, but I think I don’t need so many flavours in one dumpling. I would be happy to just buy the Hokkien dumpling in the future and save some $$.

    

Joo Chiat Kim Choo
Website


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