Today is the 5th day of the 5th lunar month in Chinese calendar, aka The Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Festival 端午节 in Chinese). I hardly look at the lunar calendar but only know when it’s coming when T&T starts selling 粽子 (ZongZi or ZhongZi), lychee is in season or when Grandma starts making zhongi. I asked her to teach me how to make it this year, and she was glad to pass down the tradition to me. It’s actually quite easy, but the preparation process is complex and the wrapping needs to be practiced.
What this is great for, is getting friends and family together to make it and eat together – and that’s what it’s really about.
粽子 / ZhongZi / ZongZi Recipe
(courtesy of and featuring my Grandma)
If you are comfortable with cooking and experimenting, discard all my measurements (as usual), but use it as a reference.
- 1.3 lbs sticky rice
- bamboo leaves as needed (and string)
- 1/6lb peanuts (optional, as much as you like)
- 0.65oz dried miniature shrimp
- 0.65oz dried chinese mushrooms
- 1/2lbs pork (fatty, belly, whatever… chunked)
- fried shallots as needed
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp rice wine (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sugar (or brown sugar syrup. DO NOT use Taiwanese black sugar)
- salt, white pepper, to taste
- Optional: Salted duck egg, chestnuts, dried minced daikon radish.
- Serve with: sweet chili sauce or sweet soy sauce.
- Soak overnight: peanuts, dried chinese mushrooms, dried miniature shrimp
- Wash bamboo leaves thoroughly and till pliable. Remove stems and leave in bowl with some water to keep moist but not soak.
- Wash rice thoroughly and rinse 3-4 times. Add 3 tsp of salt and mix. Update: soak for at least half an hour if you are planning to use a pressure cooker, 3 hours to overnight if using a steamer
- Peel cooked salted duck egg. Remove the white and the membrane around the yolk. Toss with a tbsp of rice wine for flavour.
Methods – meat filling:
- Heat oil in wok. Add pork chunks and stirfry till fragrant. Remove from heat.
- Add more oil to wok if necessary. Stirfry shrimp and fried shallots, then add mushrooms and stirfry till fragrant. Add peanuts and mix.
- Add meat, season with soy sauce, rice wine, sugar. Saute rapidly over high heat until boiling (add enough soy and rice wine so that there is some liquid). Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. ALWAYS TASTE and add more if necessary of any ingredient.
Methods – wrapping:
- Take 2 leaves, one larger than the other and opposite end to opposite end. Overlap, with the smaller leaf on the top, line the edge of the leaves up but with the smaller leaf a little higher. (You’ll need to watch the video to know what I mean).
- Fold and form a funnel shape, with the left end longer than the right.
- Place rice, filling, and more rice as in the video.
- Fold the bottom over, pinch the sides in and push the rice and filling upwards. Make sure it’s tight or else when it’s cooked the rice will turn into mush. Pinch the top and fold. Secure with cotton string.
Methods – cooking – 2 ways:
- Boiling in pressure cooker: Put dumplings into pressure cooker and cover with water. Cook until boiling and reduce heat to medium-high. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove and cool. But always test first to see amount of cooking time depending on heat source, pressure cooker etc.
- Steaming: Bring water in steamer to a boil, and steam over low heat for 1 hour or until done.
Serve with sweet chili sauce or sweet soy paste.