Sweet Rice Zòng Zī

粽子zòng zī


2 cups white sweet rice

40 bamboo leaves

cotton cooking twine

15 red dates (for sweet zòng zī/dumplings)

1 lb pork belly (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

6 dried shiitake mushrooms (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

3 tbsp dark soy sauce (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

3 tbsp light soy sauce (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

2 tbsp salt (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

1/2 tsp ground black pepper (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

1 star anise (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

3 slices ginger (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

1 bay leaf (for savory zòng zī/dumplings)

Prep Sweet Rice (night before)

  1. Wash the sweet rice and then soak in cold water. Make sure the water is 5-6 inches above the rice. Soak for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight.

Soak Bamboo Leaves

  1. Soak bamboo leaves in cold water in the kitchen sink for 2 hours.

Prep Meat (savory zòng zi)

For savory zòng zī (dumplings), the meat needs to marinate for 2 hours, so start prepping these steps at the same time you soak the bamboo leaves. If you're making sweet zòng zi, skip this section.

  1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in lukewarm water for 30 minutes until soft. Once soft, cut into slices.

  2. Wash the pork belly under cold water and soak in cold water for 15 minutes.

  3. Chop up the green onion, mince 3 slices of ginger, and break the bay leaf into small pieces.

  4. Cut the pork belly into 1/2 inch slices.

  5. Add the pork belly, Chinese cooking wine, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, salt, black pepper, star anise petals, green onion, ginger, bay leaf pieces, and 2 tbsp water to a bowl.

  6. Stir and mix well, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Boil Bamboo Leaves

  1. Add as many bamboo leaves as will comfortably fit into a pot (6-quart or bigger pot). Add cold water to the pot to cover the leaves.

  2. Heat the pot over high.

  3. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat to medium, and boil for 10 minutes.

  4. Remove from heat and let the leaves soak in hot water until you're ready to wrap the dumplings.

Prep Red Dates (sweet zòng zī)

If you're making savory zòng zī, skip this section.

  1. Wash the dates in cold water.

  2. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of cornstarch on top of the dates and rub each one with cornstarch to clean.

  3. Wash the dates under cold water to clean the cornstarch off, and then soak in cold water for 15 minutes.

Wrap Zòng Zī

  1. Cut 15-20 pieces of cooking twine that are 3-4 feet long.

  2. Fill a small bowl with water (this will be to dip the cooking twine in - wet string is easier to work with).

  3. Soak the bamboo leaves in cold water.

  4. Strain the sweet rice.

  5. Use a clean kitchen towel to brush a few times and wash both sides of each leave under cold water

  6. Take two bamboo leaves and layer them so the ends match up as much as possible.

  7. Bend the leaves to make a cone shape. Make sure the hole at the pointy end is as small as possible.

  8. Add one small spoon of sweet rice to your cone.

  9. For savory zòng zī, add 1-2 pieces of marinated meat and 1-2 slices of shiitake mushroom.

  10. For sweet zòng zī, add 1 date.

  11. Add enough sweet rice to cover the date or meat. Make sure that the cone is not completely full - otherwise, it'll be hard to wrap.

  12. Press the sides of the leaves in, and use your thumb to press one end of the bamboo leaves towards the other end. Fold the ends of the bamboo leaves down to completely cover the cone tightly.

  13. Dip a piece of the cooking twine in your bowl of water.

  14. Leaving half the twine on one side of the zòng zī, wrap the other end around the zòng zī twice. Take the other end and wrap diagonally across the top twice. Take this end and slip it under the twine wrapped horizontally. Tie a double (or triple) knot.

  15. Use scissors to trip the tips of the leaves and twine.

  16. Repeat steps 5-15 with the rest of the zòng zī. Just remember to leave 3-4 leaves for the boiling process.

Boil Zòng Zi

  1. Add the leftover bamboo leaves to the bottom of a big pot. This will help prevent the zòng zī from burning in the pot.

  2. Arrange the zòng zī in the pot.

  3. Add cold water until the water level is 2-3 inches above the zòng zī. If you want, you can add a shallow bowl upside down on top of the zòng zī to prevent too much movement during the boiling process.

  4. Cover the pot, and heat over high.

  5. Once the water boils, let boil for 5 minutes, and then turn the heat to medium.

  6. Boil for 2 hours. If your stove runs hot, let boil for 1.5 hours.

  7. Turn off the heat and let zòng zī sit until the water cools down.

  8. Serve! Just cut the twine, unwrap the leaves, and enjoy! Dipping the sweet ones in sugar is a great way to enjoy them 😋.