A few weeks ago the lovely people over at City Weekend came to the kitchen for a photo shoot on how to make zongzi for the upcoming Dragon Boat Festival. With the help of our chefs, they have put together a fantastic article detailing both the wrapping and cooking method, as well as a comprehensive shopping list with prices.
This year’s Dragon Boat Festival falls on Saturday June 23rd. We will be serving zongzi to our guests at popular Wine n Dine events over the festival weekend.
Dragon Boat Festival: Zongzi 粽子
Zongzi (粽子) is a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice stuffed with various sweet and savoury fillings that are wrapped in bamboo, hemp or reed leaves and steamed. Traditionally, zongzi are eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 Duānwǔ Jié), which, according to the lunar calendar, falls between late May and mid June (the fifth day of the fifth moon). The zongzi are eaten in commemoration of Qu Yuan, a famous Chinese poet who took his own life by drowning after the unbearable guilt he felt for failing to warn his kingdom of invasion. It is said that the local people threw parcels of rice into the Miluo river to keep the fish from eating Qu Yuan’s body.
Red dates, date paste, sticky rice, sweet beans and hemp leaves . The main ingredients you’ll need are the sticky rice and the hemp leaves, and then you can pick whatever tasty fruit or meat you want to fill the zongzi with.
Step 1: Prep Work
Before making zongzi, you first soak the rice in water overnight and soak the leaves in water for at least three hours. Some prefer to soak the leaves overnight as well, but as long as they’re soft and flexible, they’re good to go.
Ingredients for Zongzi Making
Step 2: Fold the Leaf
Start by folding the leaf at its stalk to make a sheet. Hold the leaf at one end, flat edge down, and fold it to make a funnel with the leaf. As you do this, be sure to push in the leaf at the bottom of the fold so there’s no gap or hole in the bottom of your funnel. Also make sure the shorter end of the leaf is on the inside of the pocket and the longer portion is on the outside.
Step 3: Add the Insides
First fill about two-thirds of the funnel with the soaked rice. Then you can add the stuffing of your choice. We used dates during our lesson with Chef Wang and placed two dates on top of the rice. For other ingredients, a tablespoon-size amount should do the trick. Top that off with a little more rice to finish out the filling.
Step 4: Wrap it up
To close the leaf, wrap the long stem over the funnel opening by squeezing the sides of the opening and folding the long part of the leaf over the top. Make sure you don’t leave any gaps on the sides so the filling doesn’t spill out, and once the leaf is completely wrapped around, use leaf shreds or strings to tie the zongzi together.
Step 5: Boil Away
All that’s left now is to throw your nicely wrapped zongzi into a pot of water to cook. After boiling the water, turn the stove down to medium heat and leave the zongzi to cook for one to three hours depending on the size of the zongzi. You may need to add water throughout the process to ensure that the zongzi are always submerged in water.
~ Pictures and text supplied by City Weekend, Grace Carey and the hands of Chef Wang from Black Sesame Kitchen.