The 粽子, pronounced as ‘zong zi’ which means Rice Dumplings in Chinese are usually available whole year round. However, it is on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese calendar that eating the zong zi is the highlight of the celebration called the 端午节, pronounced as ‘duan wu jie’ or commonly known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
Making the zong zi is a kung fu that has been passed on from generations to generations until today. Fortunately, my flat mates had this kung fu passed on to them from their elders, and today, I shall level up and acquire this skill of zong zi making!
Glutinous rice is used for the making of the dumpling, which is first stir fried with onion and garlic to bring out the fragrance and flavour.
Preparing the fillings can be done at the same time, if you have an extra set of kitchen hands and a stove. Zong Zi comes in many different kind of fillings; today we prepared fillings of mushrooms and pork fried till golden brown.
Pork belly is my favourite among many other fillings as it has that tender juicy fat layer that just melts in your mouth upon biting. My philosophy here is “the more fat the better!”.
Once the fillings are ready, comes the hard part which will put your kung fu to the test! Two bamboo leaves are placed on top of each other with the smoother surface facing you and with the sharper ends of the leaves at opposite sides, forming what looks like am empty cone. The rice is then placed into the ‘hold’ followed by the mushroom and pork fillings and then rice again all the way to the brim. The ends of the leaves are then folded over the top leaving you with what looks like a 3-sided pyramid shaped relic .
The whole ‘assembly’ must be held firmly until it is securely wrapped and fastened with a string. Traditionally, the strings are pre-tied together in a bunch and the uncooked zong zi is wrapped and left dangling with the other zong zi which has been done.
The wrapped zong zi is then transferred into the pot to be boiled. It takes around 1 hour to fully boil the zong zi all the way into the center. While waiting for this batch to boil, you can proceed to wrap the next batch of zong zi.
There is it, a batch of zong zi with its glorious silky looking bamboo leaves that was just lifted from the pot and left to cool
The zong zi is a very unique chinese delicacy as it is the only dish that is shaped like a 3-sided pyramid and is recognizable anywhere! Problem is, you will never know what’s in the filling until you try it!
There you have it, an almost completely eaten zong zi, leaving only my favourite part for the last savoury and heart melting bite: the fat!
There’s Master Janis wishing you all a Happy Duan Wu Festival!