The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat Festival

The Dragon Boat festival 


Based on the lunar calendar, the festival is celebrated every 5th day of the 5th month. 

Its origins are widely debated but the most common story is that the festival is to honor a man  named Qu Yuan. Known as a top advisor in the kingdom of Chu.Later becoming exiled for refusing to work with the opposing state of Qin.  He gave up his body over the loss of his home Chu when the State of Qin took over. Therefore sacrificing himself on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month. 

Celebrated in a variety of ways the most common being dragon boat racing, eating sticky rice dumplings, hanging Chinese mugwort and calamus, drinking realgar wine, and wearing perfume pouches.

Today we will learn and understand the creation of Sticky Rice dumplings known as Zongzi. A food that symbolizes the peoples attempt to save Qu Yuan body from being consumed by fish after his passing in hopes the fish would consume Zongzi instead. 

At its core Zongzi is a bamboo wrapped package consisting of sticky rice and filling, generally shaped as a triangle being either sweet or savory. It is a labor intensive process consisting of two days. This is something we recommend doing with family or friends to bring a sense of coming together. 

Here are 3 versions from varying locations in China:

Beijing’s Zongzi-

red bean zongzi wrapped on left and unwrapped on the right.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup glutinous rice
  • 6 tbsp red bean paste (adzuki bean paste)
  • 2 tbsp red bean (adzuki bean)
  • 6 chinese dates (pitted)
  • 6-12 bamboo leaves, 2 ends trimmed
  • 6 cooking strings 27inch each 
  • Honey/ sugar(optional)  

Instructions:

  1. Soak rice, red beans, and bamboo leaves in water overnight. 
  2. Assemble a triangle shape using one wide bamboo leaf to form a cone.
  3. Place a date in the cone then rice. 
  4. Add a tbsp of red bean paste. 
  5. Top with more rice and whole red bean.
  6. Fold the two sides of the leaf over the rice. 
  7. Fold the top of the leaf down to cover the rice completely. 
  8. Wrap the rest of the leaf around the shape. 
  9. Tie with string. 
  10. Cook in a small pot that they are placed close to each other. 
  11. Fill with water completely covering the Zongzi. 
  12. Cover bring to a boil  and leave to simmer for 2.5 hours (Periodically check to insure Zongzi is always underwater) 
  13. Serve warm or cold.
  14. Optional: dip in sugar or honey for a sweeter taste. 

Cantonese Zongzi-

Cantonese style zongzi with salted duck egg yolk, pork belly, and peanuts

Ingredients:


Instructions:

  1. Soak bamboo leaves,rice,and raw peanuts separately overnight. Toss pork belly with 2tsp light soy sauce, sugar, shaoxing wine, ½ tsp salt, and white pepper. Marinade overnight.
  2. Wash and rinse each leaf keeping them in large bowl of water until wrapping time
  3. Mix soaked rice with 2tbsp light soy sauce and salt in a large bowl and set to the side.
  4. Boil for 5 min, drain, and set aside. 
  5. Heat oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook pork belly for a few min before adding water. Cover and cook for 5-10 min until liquid is gone and remove from heat. 
  6. Cut the egg yolk in half and sausages into 12 equal pieces. Place in separate bowls. 
  7. Layer the leaves in your hand folding to create a cone.
  8. Fill with a little rice on the bottom, and add egg yolk, peanuts, pork belly, and sausage. 
  9. Top with more rice. Fold the two sides into the middle lengthwise, cupping your hands at the bottom of the cone so it doesn’t fall apart. 
  10. Pinch the top where the rice is thinnest for a tight seal and fold the rest downwards. 
  11. Tightly wrap with kitchen string and cut off excess. 
  12. In a large pot, tightly place the Zongzi side by side and cover fully with water. Cover and cook on medium high heat until boils then place to low and simmer for 7-8 hours. (insure that the Zongzi stay completely submerged the whole time) 
  13. Serve hot or cold.

Shanghai Zongzi-

Shanghai Zongzi Containing pork belly

Ingredients:


Instructions:

  1. Soak the bamboo leaves  in water as well as the rice (insure that the water level is 3-4 in above the rice) overnight.
  2. Cut the pork into small cubes. Combine the pork with ¼ light soy sauce, 3 tbsp dark soy sauce, 4 tsp salt, 5 tbsp sugar, 3 tbsp Shaoxing wine, 1 tsp white pepper, and 1 tsp 5 spice powder.
  3. Let it soak overnight in the fridge.
  4. Drain rice and mix with 5 tbsp light soy sauce, 5 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 ½ tbsp sugar, and 2 ½ salt. (Set aside to marinate for 30 min)
  5. Wash the bamboo leaves and transfer to a bowl of clean water. 
  6. Cut ½” off the bottom of the bamboo leaf.
  7. Layer the leaves in your hand folding to create a cone.
  8. Fill with a little rice on the bottom, and add pork belly. 
  9. Top with more rice. Fold the two sides into the middle lengthwise, cupping your hands at the bottom of the cone so it doesn’t fall apart. 
  10. Pinch the top where the rice is thinnest for a tight seal and fold the rest downwards. 
  11. Tightly wrap with kitchen string and cut off excess. 
  12. In a large pot, tightly place the Zongzi side by side and cover fully with water. Cover and cook on medium high heat until boils then place to low and simmer for 7-8 hours. (insure that the Zongzi stay completely submerged the whole time) 
  13. Serve hot or cold.

How to fold Zongzi:

Video instructions: How to Make Zongzi 

Step by step:




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