Sticky rice dumpling 粽子

It is almost Dragon boat festival aka duanwu jie 端午节 which takes place every 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar year. Sticky rice dumpling aka zongzi 粽子 will be prepared and eaten to celebrate the Dragon boat festival. The reason that Dragon boat festival is celebrated has various version. Please check link wiki for more information:

There are various versions of the rice dumpling. It depends on the region, country and even minority. Beijing makes the sweet version of the rice dumpling with red dates and red beans. Malaysia makes the Hakka version, which is more the hearty version. Taiwan version, the rice of the rice dumpling is pre-cooked. More information about the various rice dumpling see link wiki

The rice dumpling that I make is the Hong Kong style version. Main ingredients are: glutinous rice, mung beans, pork belly, dried shrimp, salted chicken egg, peanuts, chestnut, bamboo leaves and five spices. However, every family has its own filling.

Ingredients for 20 rice dumplings

  • 1 kg glutinous rice
  • 400 gr. mung beans without skin
  • 1 cup peanuts without skin
  • 1 cup dried shrimp
  • 300 gr. pork belly
  • 20 chestnut without skin
  • 10 salted chicken eggs
  • 1 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp five spices powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tsp kitchen salt
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 pack dried bamboo leaves
  • Cotton strings or strings of water reed

First preparation is the salted egg. It will take about 5 weeks to make salted eggs. I have used chicken eggs as that is easy to get. See my post about salted chicken eggs. Salted Duck eggs taste better, it is more creamy. Nowadays, you can buy the frozen salted eggs at a local Chinese supermarket.

Second preparation is preparing the bamboo leaves and marinating the pork belly.

  • Cut the pork belly in 20 or 40 pcs
  • 1 tbsp light and dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp five spice powder
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • optional 1 tbsp shiitake mushroom powder

Let the pork belly marinate overnight in the fridge.

Preparation bamboo leaves

  • Soak the bamboo leaves in cold water.
  • Remove the bamboo leaves which are broken or damaged.
  • Boil the bamboo leaves in water with salt for 20 minutes.
  • Use a little brush or scouring pad to clean the surface of the bamboo leaves.
  • Trim the bamboo leaves. The bottom of the leaves are hard and can damage the leaves during wrapping. The top can be trimmed as well about 1 cm.
  • Let the bamboo leaves soak in water overnight.
  • Water reed need to be boiled and soaked overnight as well.

Rice dumpling wrapping day

  • Wash and soak the glutinous rice, mung beans, dried shrimp, chestnut and peanuts 2 hours in water.
  • Chop the shallots.
  • Soaked glutinous rice needs to be marinated with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tbsp five spices powder, 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp salt.
  • Soaked mung beans need to be marinated with 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tbsp five spices powder, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp salt and 1 tbsp sugar.
  • Cut 20 strings of cotton or water reed of about 80 cm length.

Assembling the rice dumpling, put the filling ingredients, bamboo leaves, strings and a scissor at the table. Please check thoroughly that the bamboo leaves a not damage this prevent leakage during boiling. When using the bamboo leaves, facing the shiny side up, the sticky rice will be easy to pull of the leaves.

Make a cone of two bamboo leaves, add 1 big tbsp rice, on top of the rice 1 tbsp mung beans then adding the other ingredients, finish with some shallots. Add again 1 tbsp mung beans and last 1 big tbsp rice. See below picture.

Traditional method rice dumpling wrapping: Get 2 pieces of leaves, crisscross them and fold it in to form a cup. Place all the ingredients see below picture, then slide a leaf on to each side. Fold the leaves towards the middle to cover the ingredients, give it a tap to make sure all ingredients are together tightly, then fold the top and bottom pieces of leaves towards the middle to seal the zongzi. Grab some reed or cotton string to tie it up.

zongzi filling

The rice dumplings need to be boiled in water with some salt for about 2,5 hours and let it rest for another 30 minutes with the fire turned off. The rice dumpling can be kept in the fridge for few days or kept in the freezer for months.

My rice dumplings are free of MSG and Chinese wine. You can add this as well for extra flavor. Optional is to add Chinese sausage or dried shiitake mushrooms. Other version that we make at home is rice with red beans or black eye beans with peanuts. Total preparation time, I guess is about 6-8 hours. It is nice to do this with a group of family or friends. It is really worth to make this effort.

Rice dumpling on a plate and rice bowl with unwrapped zongzi

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