Growing up in Guangzhou, one of my favorite meals for breakfast or lunch was zongzi. My mom used to make it during the Duanwu Festival which is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival. You can find zongzi year round in the Chinese grocery stores, but I rarely buy them because I either don’t like the fillings or it has too much rice with very little filling. Making zongzi is a bit labor-intensive, so my family would gather around and make a huge batch together and everyone gets to choose their favorite fillings.
There’re many variations of Zongzi with different fillings across the regions of Asia. The northern style in China tend to be sweet and has red bean paste, dates, or sweet potato. The southern style is more savory and salted. Salted duck egg, pork belly, Chinese sausage, shiitake mushroom and dried seafoods are often used for the fillings. The zongzi that I am going to make is Cantonese (southern) style. You can choose whatever fillings you like, but two of must-have fillings are salted egg yolks and pork belly. The egg yolk adds rich umami flavors to the fillings. The pork belly is tender and melt in your mouth after cooking. This combination makes the dumplings taste so delicious!
For beginners, it takes a little practice making sure the zongzi is wrapped tight so that it doesn’t fall apart during cooking. There’re quite a few ways to wrap the zongzi. In the video, my mom shows you two of the common wrapping styles in the south.
Zongzi (Sticky Rice Dumplings)
- 70-90 dried bamboo leaves
- 10 cups glutinous rice "sticky rice"
- 2 tbsps salt
- 1 pound mung beans skinned
- 1/2 cup dried shrimps
- 1/2 cup dried scallops
- 30 salted egg yolks or duck egg yolks
- 3 Chinese sausages sliced
- 1 1/2 cups peanuts
For marinating pork belly
- 2 pounds pork belly cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp five spice powder
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Soak the following ingredients overnight
Soak the bamboo leaves overnight. Wash and rinse the leaves before wrapping. Depending on the wrapping style, you'll need at 3-4 bamboo leaves per zongzi.
Soak the sticky rice overnight. Drain it in a colander. Add 2 tablespoons of salt and set aside.
Marinate the pork belly overnight with soy sauce, salt, five spice powder, and black pepper powder.
Soak the mung beans and peanuts overnight. After drain it in a colander, add 1 tbsp salt.
For other ingredients
Soak the shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps and scallops in separate bowls for 1-2 hours.
Wrapping zongzi (easy)
Take one leaf and fold up the bottom to create a cone.
Fill with a layer of rice on the bottom. Then add the mung beans, egg yolks, pork belly, dried scallops and shrimps, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese sausage.
Add another layer of leaf around and top with mung beans and rice.
Top with another leaf. Fold the bottom side up, then the two sides into the middle. Then pinch the leaves on the other side and fold them down.
Tie the zongzi securely with the twine.
Wrapping zongzi (advanced)
Layer two leaves slightly crossing each other. Fold up the bottom to create a cone.
Add the fillings as mentioned above.
Add two leaves to each side, and top with more mung beans and rice.
While your left hand holding at the bottom of the zongzi, fold the two sides into the middle. Make sure to hold the leave tight so that it doesn't fall apart.
Pinch the leaves on one side and fold them down, and do the same on the other side. Tie the zongzi securely with the twine. Cut off the excessive leaves if needed.
For pressure cooker, use the manual setting and set the timer for 1 hour.
For regular pot, boil the zongzi for 3 hours.