Have you ever tried Chinese Zongzi, a classic Chinese holiday food for Dragon Boat Festival?Zongzi, Chinese sticky rice dumpling or sometimes called as Chinese tamales, go hand in hand with the Dragon Boat Festival (also known as the Duanwu festival, usually celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar). The fresh and unique fragrance of the reed leaves or bamboo leaves can greatly set the pure aroma of the glutinous rice off. Zongzi is a traditional family festival food in most provinces. They may be different from filling, taste and shape.
The filling of Zongzi can be very complex for example one of the most famous Zongzi—Jiangxi Zongzi. Usually pork, mung bean paste, red beans paste and salted duck eggs are all wrapped in a small and tinny Zongzi. During my childhood, my grandma used to make pure Zongzi without any filling and then top with sugar or honey before serving. That’s the best flavor in my mind.However you can try your combinations!! There are over 30 Zongzi fillings in China.
The leaves used for wrapping Zongzi can be reed leaves or bamboo leaves. And the principle is that fresh ones are better than dried ones. If fresh ones are too difficult to find, you can buy packaged dried ones and then soak them in clean water overnight. Then the leaves will turn green again. Wash them carefully with a clean towel. The upper green ones are fresh leaves while the lighter ones are dried leaves. The two sides are different. Front side is much smoother than the back side. When overlay the leaves in following wrapping process, remember to overlay back to back so we can have smooth Zongzi!
I soak around 3 cups of glutinous rice this time and make three filling. For each of the filling, I am using 1 glutinous rice. For how to wrap a Zongzi, please refer to the following video.
- Bamboo leaves or other leaves for wrapping Zongzi
- String or cotton yarn for fixing Zongzi
- 1/2 cup pork meat , cut into one bite size
- 1.5 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon +1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon cooking wine
- 2 tablespoons red bean paste , Or you can use red beans directly, pre-soaked
- 1 cup corn
- 1/3 cup sugar
For dry leaves, pre-soak in clean water overnight and it will turn green in next morning. And then wash the leaves carefully with a clean towel.
Marinate pork with 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder, cooking wine, light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. And then add around 1 tablespoon light soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder in the soaked rice.
Mix glutinous rice with corn and sugar. Set aside?
If you prefer to cook red bean paste at home, refer here. Or purchase one package from Chinese market.
Prepare all the filling, leaves and cotton thread for fixing the Zongzi. For the detailed instructions, refer to the video above.
Take two leaves, and overlay with each other (back to back please). And then wrap the leaves like a taper around 1/3 place (there should be no opening at the bottom otherwise the rice might escape during later cooking). Fill with filling(place red bean paste and pork in the middle) and then cover with the top part of leaves. Fold top leaves and wrap according to the shape of the Zongzi. Fix with cotton yarn in the middle. It is not difficult but hard to describe with words. So please watch the video carefully!
Add enough water to cover Zongzi and then bring to boil. Simmer for 80 minutes and then soak for around 1 hour after turning off the fire.
Remove the leaves and serve directly (for sweet Zongzi, sprinkle some sugar or top with honey)
This Zongzi can be frozen for 2 weeks.