How to make Taiwanese ZhongZi (or ZongZi) 粽子

16 Jun

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:

  1. Heat oil in wok. Add pork chunks and stirfry till fragrant. Remove from heat.
  2. Add more oil to wok if necessary. Stirfry shrimp and fried shallots, then add mushrooms and stirfry till fragrant. Add peanuts and mix.
  3. 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:

  1. 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).
  2. Fold and form a funnel shape, with the left end longer than the right.
  3. Place rice, filling, and more rice as in the video.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

10 Responses to “How to make Taiwanese ZhongZi (or ZongZi) 粽子”

  1. Tes June 16, 2010 at 8:55 PM #

    I am sad that I won’t be to find the ingredients here. I really love this recipe. I have to try it when I’m back to Sotheast Asia. Thanks for sharing.

  2. actorsdiet July 1, 2010 at 4:35 PM #

    i love that you posted this!!! i will most likely NOT be making this, but i like to know the process.

  3. Hermes1977 September 26, 2010 at 11:48 PM #

    What a rare gem – FEW gals nowadays know the entire process – let along making them. You rock, gal!

    • CT June 1, 2011 at 12:01 PM #

      I think her grandmother rocks, she just watched and video taped it.

  4. Ting Chen August 28, 2011 at 11:01 AM #

    Oh yay! I’m glad to find step-by-step instructions on how to make this. My mom refused to teach me how to do it, telling me to just go out and buy it instead (-_-“). My friends and I are going to try today. Wish us luck!

    • nansie August 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM #

      My mother told me to buy it too and refused to teach me, so I learned from grandma. After I put the camera down I made about 30 and it’s really all about practice, practice practice!!! Enjoy!

      • Ting Chen August 28, 2011 at 9:02 PM #

        Ah so we tried today and after 2 hrs of steamer time later, the rice in the zhongzi was not cooked. I think you left out a crucial step? Soak the rice overnight too!

      • nansie August 28, 2011 at 10:34 PM #

        Omg I’m so sorry that happened! I do see that some recipes call for rice to be soaked overnight, but I just called grandma and she said soaking it overnight leads to mushy rice. However she did mention that while washing the rice and preparing the other ingredients, the rice would sit in the water to soak for 30 minutes (of course she left that out!) but her recipe was also tweaked for cooking in a pressure cooker. Make sure the water covers the zhongzi and only pressure cook for 20 minutes. I’ve looked at other recipes and if you’re to use something less ‘powerful’ like a steamer it would require more soaking. I’m so sorry that this happened, but your feedback is totally appreciated!!! I’ll tweak it so that the rice soaks for at least 3 hours then!

      • Ting Chen August 29, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

        Ah I see. I will try the soaking overnight + steamer next time (which might be awhile. My friends, after frustration, threw out all the ingredients, so I’ll have to buy again. >.<). I don't own a pressure cooker, so there isn't as much moisture being added to the rice when cooking. Hopefully it works this time.

        Anyways, thanks!

  5. tom wang (@kitchen_reno) August 28, 2011 at 10:48 PM #

    wow , that so remind me of child hood . miss it loads . taking me azz to bed all this making me hungry again

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