In honor of the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on June 8 this year, I am introducing my first ever recipe post. I am not sure if this will become a regular section of this blog, but thought it would be fun to try. Last month, when my parents came to visit, I asked my mom to teach me how to make Zongzi, a very traditional Chinese food. Since this is one of my favorite foods, I was very excited to learn how to make zongzi.
Zongzi are steamed rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves that are customarily eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Jie). There is a very interesting legend behind this food. According to the story, the festival is held to honor Qu Yuan, a high official during the Chu Dynasty, who drowned himself after finding out his country lost a war. The locals thought him to be a good man who loved his country, and decided to throw food into the river so that they fish would not eat Qu Yuan’s body. They also scared the fish away by playing drums on long narrow boats called dragon boats. This evolved into the tradition of annual dragon boat races and zongzi eating that still continues today in Chinese communities around the world.
2008 Washington D.C. Dragon Boat Festival
Photo courtesy of CT Chen
Note: This recipe in its entirety takes quite a few hours to make from start to finish. Prep time alone will take approximately 2 hours, then about 45 minutes of assembly, then 45 minutes of steaming for each batch. However, it’s a great family activity!
WANG FAMILY ZONGZI RECIPE
by A. Wang
Makes approximately 24 zongzi (2 batches)
Large pot (for boiling rice)
Wok or large stir fry pan
Chinese strainer with handle (see photo)
Peanuts (1 bag)
Dried bamboo leaves (24X2)
Dried shitake mushrooms (12 whole)
2 lbs of pork shoulder butt
2.5 lbs of Sweet Rice
Salted, aged egg yolk (as many as desired, 1 per zongzi)
Spices, including 5 spice powder, white pepper
Oyster sauce or mushroom oyster sauce
1) Soak peanuts for 30 minutes in water. Then cook peanuts in rice cooker with 2 pinches of salt. Make sure water covers all peanuts and that the water is below the max level.
2) Marinate meat, squeeze meat to mix and tenderize
2 lbs of pork shoulder, cut into ~¾ inch cubes
1 tps of 5 spice powder
1 tps of white pepper
4 Tbs oyster sauce
2 Tbs cooking wine
6 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 Tbs sugar
3) Soak bamboo leaves in hot water until soft (about 30 minutes). Then wash each leaf individually with sponge on both sides.
4) Soak dried shitake mushrooms in cold water until soft (about 1 hour)
Cut off stems, cut into quarters
5) Cut 6 strings about 4 feet long each. Fold in half and make a knot in the middle to create 12 2 feet long strings that hang from the knot.
6) Pick apart salted dried egg yolks from package. Set aside for assembly later.
1) Cook mushrooms
2 Tbs of cooking oil
2 Tbs of soy sauce
½ Tbs of sugar
Using 2 Tbs of cooking oil, stir fry on high heat until fragrant. Then turn down heat to medium low and add 2 Tbs of soy sauce and ½ Tbs of sugar. Stir fry again and then set aside.
2) Stir fry meat on high heat. When meat looks dry, turn to low until juices run out. Then turn to high heat again and stir fry until done. Remove meat and set aside in a bowl. Keep the gravy.
3) Start water boiling in large pot for rice. Add half of sweet rice when water begins to boil. Stir. Pour in other half of sweet rice.
4) In wok, pour in 2 tablespoons of cooking oil. Add 6 cloves of crushed garlic. Stir fry until brown then remove garlic, leaving the infused oil. Pour in gravy from the meat and 2 Tbs of soy sauce to taste.
5) After rice in large pot has reached the puffier shape shown in the photo (should only take a few minutes), drain with strainer tool and pour rice into wok. Mix, then pour some more. Mix thoroughly.
6) Rinse steamed peanuts. Soak strings in water.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Copyright (R) Travels with Sandy