Chinese sticky rice dumplings (and flowers)

I mentioned in my fresh strawberry tart post that I went over to a friend’s house to make Chinese sticky rice dumplings. These rice dumplings, or 粽子 (zongzi), are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. They can be likened to tamales or even humitas, but zongzi are typically a steamed package of bamboo leaves that impart a special fragrance to the glutinous (sticky) rice inside, which in turn reveals a filling that can be either savoury or sweet.

Wrapping zongzi was once a family affair, but they are quite common in Asian grocery stores now and not just available around Dragon Boat Festival time. I’m not good enough to be able to teach you how to wrap and make zongzi so the following will be text-light and photo-heavy.

Mise en place, sort of: bamboo leaves have to be pre-soaked so they become pliable. We filled the zongzi with different combinations of pre-soaked glutinous rice, red beans, green (mung) beans, pine nuts, black sesame paste, chestnuts and Chinese mushrooms. Once the zongzi are wrapped, they are tied with twine or string to prevent the bamboo leaves from unfolding.

Ooooh, finished zongzi! Now they need to be gently steamed until the rice and filling are cooked.

Ooooh, finished zongzi! Now they need to be gently steamed until the rice and filling are cooked. Notice how zongzi can be either tetrahedral or rectangular.

A bouquet of flowers for our friend, fresh from the Farmer's Market.

A bouquet of flowers for our friend, fresh from the Farmer's Market.

While we waited for the dumplings to be ready, I took the opportunity to photograph some of C’s pretty flowers. Voilà: macroshot madness!

Wow, so the flowers really stole the show, huh?

Almost there... but before the dumplings, let's have dessert. C made a kind of sweet dessert soup

Almost there... but before the dumplings, slightly chilled mango, coconut milk and tapioca combine to form a refreshing sweet dessert soup (糖水, tongsui).

At last,

At last, steamed zongzi. This one is filled with just red beans. Once the bamboo leaves are removed, zongzi can be dipped in either soy sauce for savoury fillings, or granulated sugar for sweet fillings.


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6 Responses to “Chinese sticky rice dumplings (and flowers)”

  1. chop chop a to z Says:

    Making Chinese sticky dumpling sounds fun! The flowers are stunning.

  2. toxobread Says:

    Hi Van,
    Yes, making the sticky rice dumplings was fun, especially when you get together with several friends to do it. The best part was eating them after all that hard work haha

  3. em Says:

    Making zongzi at home is HARDCORE! We just go to dim sum. heh.
    And I love tongsui with tapioca. Any tongsui with tapioca is great. mmm. tapioca.

    P.S. Happy Sept 14!; get that yogurt maker, ok? :p

  4. toxobread Says:

    I love tongsui too. My favourites include taro tongsui with tapioca and coconut milk, and the “hup tou lou” (“walnut paste” tongsui).
    Happy Sept 14 to you toooooooo, my Sept 14 buddy! hehe
    Doing anything special to celebrate? Either way best wishes for a fantastic and most wonderful day!

  5. Mandy Says:

    中秋節 —- “辛樂克”颱風帶來狂風豪雨,損壞很大。聽說台灣18年
    這樣橫掃的風雨一出門必定全身濕透無疑,又不能 開傘 。

  6. toxobread Says:

    Hi Mandy,
    Sorry to hear that Taiwan is still in the midst of typhoon Sinlaku during the mid-autumn festival. Tonight was quite cloudy here and it was hard to see the moon, but it appeared that the moon was fairly round (as expected), just like a mooncake 哈哈. Thanks for visiting my blog!

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