Zongzi (Chinese: 粽子) is a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice, stuffed with different fillings, and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It is the most popular food of the Dragon Boat Festival. Zongzi is steamed or boiled.
A variety of Zongzi Fillings
- Egg Yolk
- Lotus Seed
- Red Bean Paste
- Fat Pork
Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food, differs not only in shape but also in taste from one place to another across China. There are mainly two tastes to Zongzi, sweet and salty. Sweet Zongzi flavors include plain Zongzi, red bean Zongzi, horse bean Zongzi, date Zongzi, rose Zongzi, melon Zongzi, red bean and lard Zongzi, and date paste and lard Zongzi. Salty Zongzi flavors include salted pork fat Zongzi, sausage Zongzi, ham Zongzi, dried shrimp Zongzi, and diced meat Zongzi. Nowadays, people even make Zongzi with mixed fillings. Such a variety of tastes makes the Zongzi family a splendid legacy.
Generally, Guangdong Zongzi is large in size and has special shapes. It is either sweet with walnuts, dates, or bean paste as a filling, or salty with ham, egg, meat, or roast chicken as a filling.
Roast pork Zongzi and soda Zongzi from Xiamen and Quanzhou gain their fame as two typical types of Minnan Zongzi, both at home and abroad. To make roast pork Zongzi, one needs to use top-grade glutinous rice with roast pork, mushrooms, dried shrimp, lotus seeds, or braised pork soup as a filling. Locals often eat this type of Zongzi with garlic, mustard, red chili sauce, and other condiments. Soda Zongzi is made of glutinous rice and soda lye. After steaming for several hours, it is best cooled and refrigerated. When eating soda Zongzi, people often add honey and syrup. Bean Zongzi, very popular in Quanzhou, uses a mixture of beans and glutinous rice as a filling.
Ningbo Zongzi, in the special shape of a quadrangle, includes many varieties such as soda Zongzi, red bean paste Zongzi, and date paste Zongzi. The most famous is soda Zongzi, made of glutinous rice soaked in soda water, then wrapped in yellow reed leaves.
Jiaxing Zongzi, in the shape of a triangle, uses fresh meat, red bean paste, or eight treasures (choice ingredients of certain special dishes) as fillings. When wrapping this kind of Zongzi, people put a small piece of fat meat into the glutinous rice.
Sweet Tea Zongzi
Sweet Tea Zongzi uses stewed sweet tea in which to soak the glutinous rice. This type of Zongzi has a bright color, a soft taste, and a sweet flavor. Generation after generation of people in the west mountainous area of Zhejiang Province have followed the custom of boiling Zongzi with sweet tea, boiling rice with sweet tea, and cooking rice porridge with sweet tea. Even in the famous novel, Dream of Red Mansions (one of the four most famous classical literature works of China), sweet tea Zongzi and rice are mentioned several times.
Beijing Zongzi, a representative type of Zongzi in north China, features a small size and is in the shape of a quadrangle. In the countryside, people are accustomed to making Zongzi using jujube and sweetened bean paste as fillings.
People in the middle area of Guangxi Province enjoy making Zongzi into the shape of a big pillow, each one weighing over half a kilogram. People in the Guilin region prefer small, pillow-shaped Zongzi. In particular, people in the northern part of Guilin make Zongzi in the shape of a dog's head. More importantly, the fillings used differ from one place to another. People in Guilin often add a little baking soda to the filling to make the Zongzi tastier, while people in Quanzhou like to soak the glutinous rice in straw-ash water for additional flavoring.
Shanghai Zongzi features a variety of shapes and fillings.
It is represented by Xihualou and Xinya Zongzi, has a strong flavor and is shaped with a flat bottom and square or pentagonal top. Its fillings include chestnuts, fresh meat, egg yolks, mushrooms, roast duck, and mushrooms. Huaiyang-style Zongzi, represented by Zongzi made by Laobanzhai and Yangzhou Hotel, gains its fame for its eight flavors and eight shapes. Typical examples include quadrangular date and red bean Zongzi, ingot-shaped ham Zongzi, triangle bacon Zongzi, pillow-shaped chicken Zongzi, and diamond-shaped bean paste Zongzi.
Vegetarian Zongzi is made by the Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant, and flavors include mushroom Zongzi, bean board Zongzi, and red bean Zongzi.
Some types of Muslim Zongzi are offered by the Muslim restaurant Hongchangxing. Its beef Zongzi is the most popular among the locals.
China Hlights' Cusine Tours provide travelers with a great chance to eat delicious Chinese food.
How to make Zongzi
Red Bean Zongzi
- Wash the glutinous rice and put it in water until soaked thoroughly.
- Wash and soak the red beans for 1.5 hours, and then mix it with the glutinous rice.
- Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for half an hour and then put them into cold water to cool.
- Pile three or four pieces of bamboo leaves on your palm, fold the leaves into a cone-shaped or pyramidal-shaped container and use a spoon to fill in the mixture of glutinous rice and red beans, and bundle it up with a grass-like piece of string. The wrapped Zongzi must be bundled up firmly before boiling or steaming; boil or steam for two hours until they have fully bulged.
How to Make Glutinous Rice and Pork Zongzi
Ingredients: bamboo leaves, streaky pork, glutinous rice, soy sauce, salt.
- Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for a few minutes until soft.
- Cut the streaky pork into the right shape, and add soy sauce and salt and let sit for one night to pickle the pork.
- Wash the glutinous rice and flavor it with salt and soy sauce.
- Fold two or three pieces of bamboo leaves into the shape of a bowl, and first fill it with glutinous rice and then add a piece of the streaky pork on top. Then, cover with a leaf, furl with the bottom leaves into a pyramidal shape, and bundle it with a grass-like piece of string.
- Put the bamboo leaves into a pot and then place the wrapped Zongzi on the leaves; steam or boil for three to four hours.
How to Make Sweet Tea Zongzi
Main ingredients: glutinous rice, sweet tea, and date jujube
- Stew the sweet tea and extract the tea juice. Wash the glutinous rice and soak it in the tea juice.
- Wrap the glutinous rice and jujube with bamboo leaves, put the Zongzi and the sweet tea together into a pot, add water and boil for two hours.
How to Make Date Jujube Zongzi
Main ingredients: glutinous rice, raisins, date jujube
- Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for a few minutes until they are soft.
- Wash and soak the glutinous rice.
- Put some date jujubes into a bowl and stone them after being steamed for a while. Wash the raisins.
- Pile up three bamboo leaves onto your palm, fold the leaves into a pyramidal-shaped container and use a spoon to fill it with glutinous rice, date jujubes, and raisins. Bundle it up with a grass-like piece of string.
- Put the wrapped Zongzi into a pot, add water, boil for two hours on high, and then reduce the heat and simmer for another three hours.
How to Make Mung Bean and Duck Egg Zongzi
Main ingredients: glutinous rice, Mung bean, peanuts, cooked salty duck egg yolk
- Wash and soak the glutinous rice and mung beans.
- Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix.
- Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for a few minutes until soft.
- Fold the leaves into a funnel form and use a spoon to fill with the mixture. Bundle it up with a grass-like piece of string.
- Put the wrapped Zongzi into a pot, add cold water, boil for one hour on high, and then reduce the heat and simmer for another hour.
Famous Zongzi Brands in China
- Wufangzai Zongzi (one of China's time-honored brands in Jiaxing, one of China's top brands, and a well-known trademark)
- Zhenzhen Laolao Zongzi one of China's time-honored brands in Jiaxing)
- Dao Xiangcun Zongzi one of China's time-honored brands starting from 1895)
- Holiland Zongzi (a famous chain business brand)
- Sanquan Zongzi (one of China's top brands)
- Sinian Zongzi (one of China's top brands)
- Li Koufu Zongzi (a famous brand in Guangzhou)
- Laobian Zongzi one of China's time-honored brands)
- Miqi Zongzi (a famous brand in Xi'an starting from 1994)
- Jinleyuan Zongzi (a famous brand in Tianjin starting from 1996)
- Gongdelin Zongzi one of China's time-honored brands in Shanghai starting from 1922)
- Dasanyuan Zongzi (a famous brand in Beijing)
- Xianpingwu Zongzi (a famous brand in Qingdao)
- Shalana Zongzi (a famous brand in Chongqing)
More Information on Dragon Boat Festival
- Dragon Boat Festival Custom
- Dragon Boat Festival History
- Dragon Boat Festival Food
- Dragon Boat Racing
- Dragon Boat Festival Photos
I updated this article on February 28, 2014
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