This festival is to commemorate the patriotic poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in the Miluo river, after hearing that his country has fallen into the hands of the enemy. Legend has it that rice dumplings are thrown into the river so that the fishes will eat those instead of his body.
Nowadays, rice dumplings can be found in restaurants and food stalls throughout the year.. so it doesn't really matter when you eat them. But I think that the best rice dumplings are those made by my maternal grandmother.. and she still only makes them once a year, during the dragon boat festival.
Homemade rice dumpling
My grandmother usually makes 2 kinds of rice dumplings - "ba-cang" (meat rice dumplings) and "tao-cang" (bean rice dumplings). The meat rice dumplings are made with stewed pork, chestnuts and glutinous rice. The bean rice dumplings, which are my personal favourites, are made with pork, chestnuts, lots and lots of "hei-bi-hiam" (dried shrimps with chilli) and glutinous rice with red beans.
These are the best rice dumplings that money can't buy.
Meat rice dumpling (left) and bean dumpling (right)