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Alkaline Dumplings – Kee Chang

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Alkaline Dumplings or Kee Chang

This is a continuation of the dumpling festival which will be in 30 May this year. As promised, I am sharing this recipe.

In my previous post, I shared my Mother’s recipe for Penang Sweet and Salty Pork Dumpling. As promised, I am sharing the Alkaline Dumpling recipe this time. I remember her using alkaline water and borax. I did some research and some recipes do not use borax. Borax gives the  dumpling its jiggly texture. Another way to ensure that the dumpling is soft and wobbly is to not pack it tightly. I remember my mum commenting that one should be able to hear the rice rattling in the bamboo ‘case’. These are the 2 things I remember.  And of course, the size is much smaller.

So if you purchase dried bambo leaves as I do in the UK, the leaves are not uniform in size and I pick the smaller ones for the alkaline dumplings. To be honest, I don’t think I packed it loose enough, so the dumplings were not as wobbly as I hope it would be. But I will get there.

So here is the recipe.

Alkaline Dumplings or Kee Chang

Quick Info:

Makes: 25 dumplings or so depending on the size
Difficulty: High
Cost: ££
Time: 2 – 3 hours to wrap and some time to prepare and 3 hours to boil


Note: 1.

It is better to pick the rice to remove the non-glutinous grains. The non-glutinous grains are hard and affect the texture of the dumplings. It is a bit of an ‘eye’ work as one has to scan through the rice on a light background, while separating them by flicking it to the respective piles. This is best done on a tray or on a table top.

Note 2.

To have a better explanation regarding preparing the vine / string and the bamboo leaves, please refer to the post on Penang Nyonya Bak Chang.


500g Glutinous rice- picked, rinsed and drained

1 ½ tbsp. Alkaline water
¼ tsp Borax ( Pheng sey)

50 to 60 Bamboo leaves, soaked overnight and wipe cleaned
Vine Or string for tying

3 litres water
3 tsp Akaline water
2 tsp Borax


300g Palm sugar
375ml Water


  1. Soak the rice in water to about 3 cm above the rice. Add in the alkaline water and borax.
  2. Mix well and let it soak for about 2 hours.
  3. Drain and give the rice 1 rinse. Leave to drain.

To pack the dumplings:

  1. Use 2 bamboo leaves to form a cone, then add in 1 tablespoon or so of the rice. Make sure that the rice is 1/2  to 2/3 full.
  2. Wrap the leaves to form a pyramid and tie with the string/vine. Repeat until all the rice is wrapped up. If you can hear the rice when you shake the cone, you have done it correctly.

To cook the dumplings:

  1. In a big pot put in the water, alkaline and borax.
  2. Put the dumplings in making sure that the water covers the dumplings. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 2 hours. Be sure to top up with boilking water regularly.
  3. Turn the dumplings twice, during boiling, to ensure even cooking.
  4. Lift the dumpling out when it is done and let it drain.
  5. Serve warm or cold with the syrup.

To Make the syrup:

  1. Put in the palm sugar and water in a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer until the syrup becomes thick and coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Strain into a clean container or jar and leave to cool. The syrup can keep in the fridge for weeks.


Chinese, Malaysian, Penang, Nyonya, Alkaline, rice,
Kee Chang, glutinous rice dumpling. The yellow colour is the result of using the alkaline water.

rice, Penang, Malaysian, Chinese,
Kee Chang or alkaline dumplings. Made from glutinous rice. Prettily served


Nyonya, Peneng, Chinese, chang, Alakine,
Kee Chang served with palm sugar syrup. Trying to dress it up.

I hope you enjoy trying out the recipe and try serving them in a different way. Mainly as a dessert.

Do you have other ideas on how to serve kee chang in innovative ways?  Do share.

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Cheers, and I will be back with my travel stories.

Penang Lassie.

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