With Dragon Boat Festival approaching, you’ll start to see more and more zongzi on the streets. But why buy these rice dumplings when you can easily make your own at home and fill them with whatever stuffing you like?
Most of the ingredients are readily available at different supermarkets around town like Daoxiangcun or Carrefour.
We spent a little time with Chef Wang at Black Sesame Kitchen in Beijing to find out what it really takes to make some delicious zongzi.
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.
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.
At Daoxiangcun, we purchased red dates (RMB22/kg), date paste (RMB16/kg), sticky rice (RMB9.6/kg), sweet beans (RMB6.5/pkg), and hemp leaves (RMB10/pkg). 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.