Zongzi - How to Make Zongzi

Zongzi - How to Make Zongzi

By Fercility JiangUpdated Oct. 2, 2021
Dragon Boat FestivalZongzi is a traditional food of the Dragon Boat Festival.

Sticky rice bundles (粽子 Zongzi /dzong-dzrr/) are made from sticky or glutinous rice and a filling, which is kneaded in.

They are then wrapped in bamboo leaves in pillow or triangular-based pyramid shapes, and tied with plant stems.

If you are careful the bamboo leaves can be folded back like a wrapper so that you don't get your fingers (too) sticky while eating them.

They are often found sold at train and bus stations and make more of a meal than a snack (see Chinese Snacks). Glutinous rice is very filling.

Typical Zongzi Fillings

  • Egg yolk
  • Lotus seeds
  • Ham
  • Red bean paste
  • Chestnut
  • Fatty pork

Regional Varieties of Zongzi

Zongzi, a traditional Chinese food, differ in shape and taste from one place to another across China. There are mainly two tastes to zongzi: sweet and savory. Nowadays people even make zongzi with mixed swwet and savory fillings. 

Making Zongzi Zongzi fillings

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.

Savory zongzi flavors include salted pork fat zongzi, sausage zongzi, ham zongzi, dried shrimp zongzi, and diced meat zongzi.

Guangdong Zongzi — Cantonese Zongzi

Generally, Guangdong zongzi are large in size and have special shapes. They are either sweet with walnuts, dates, or bean paste as a filling, or savory with ham, egg, meat, or roast chicken as a filling.

Fujian Zongzi

Roast pork zongzi and soda zongzi from Xiamen and Quanzhou are famous as two typical types of Minnan zongzi.

To make roast pork zongzi, use top-grade glutinous rice and fill with roast pork, mushrooms, dried shrimp, lotus seeds, or braised pork soup. Locals often eat these zongzi with garlic, mustard, red chili sauce, and other condiments.

Soda zongzi are made of glutinous rice and soda lye. After steaming for several hours, they are best cooled and refrigerated. When eating soda zongzi, people often add honey and syrup.

Bean zongzi, very popular in Quanzhou, have a mixture of beans and glutinous rice as a filling.

Ningbo Zongzi

Ningbo zongzi, in the shape of a quadrangle, include many varieties, such as soda zongzi, red bean paste zongzi, and date paste zongzi. The most famous are soda zongzi, made of glutinous rice soaked in soda water, then wrapped in yellow reed leaves.

Jiaxing Zongzi

Triangular-Pyramid-shape ZongziTriangular-pyramid-shaped Zongzi

Jiaxing zongzi, in the shape of a triangular pyramid, use 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 fatty meat into the glutinous rice.

Sweet Tea Zongzi

Sweet tea zongzi use stewed sweet tea to soak the glutinous rice. This type of zongzi have a bright color, a soft taste, and a sweet flavor.

Generation after generation of people in the western 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

Beijing Zongzi, a representative type of zongzi in north China, are small and rectangular. In the countryside people are accustomed to making zongzi using jujube and sweet bean paste as fillings.

Guangxi Zongzi

ZongziPillow-shaped zongzi

People in central Guangxi Province enjoy making zongzi in the shape of a big pillow, each one weighing over half a kilogram.

People in the Guilin region prefer small, pillow-shaped zongzi. People in northern Guilin make zongzi in the shape of a dog's head.

Also the fillings used differ from one place to another. People around Guilin city often add a little baking soda to the filling to make the zongzi tastier, while people in Quanzhou County (northeast Guilin Prefecture) like to soak the glutinous rice in straw-ash water for additional flavoring.

Shanghai Zongzi

Shanghai zongzi have a variety of shapes and fillings.

Vegetarian zongzi made by Gongdelin Vegetarian Restaurant include mushroom zongzi, broad bean zongzi, and red bean zongzi.

Some types of Muslim zongzi are offered by the Muslim restaurant Hongchangxing. Its beef zongzi are the most popular among locals.

China Highlights' Cuisine Tours provide a great chance to eat a wide variety of delicious Chinese food.

How to Make Zongzi

How to make Zongzi China Highlights’ staff member- Yin Chengcheng’s mother is making zongzi at their home.

How to Make Red Bean Zongzi

  • Wash the glutinous rice and put it in water until soaked thoroughly.
  • Wash and soak the red beans for 1½ hours, and then mix them with the glutinous rice.
  • Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for half an hour and then put them into cold water to cool.
  • With three or four bamboo leaves on your palm, fold the leaves into a cone-shaped or pyramid-shaped container and use a spoon to fill it with the mixture of glutinous rice and red beans.
  • Then finish wrapping it and tie it up with a pre-soaked length of straw.
  • The zongzi must be bundled up firmly before boiling or steaming for two hours, until they have fully bulged.

How to Make Glutinous Rice and Pork Zongzi

Ingredients: bamboo leaves and lengths of straw, streaky pork, glutinous rice, soy sauce, salt.

  • Cut the streaky pork into zongzi-sized pieces, and add soy sauce and salt and let it sit for one night to pickle the pork.
  • Wash the glutinous rice and flavor it with salt and soy sauce.
  • Wash and boil the bamboo leaves for a few minutes until soft.
  • Fold two or three pieces of bamboo leaves into the shape of a cone, and first fill it with glutinous rice and then add a piece of the streaky pork on top. Then, cover it and wrap it into a pyramidal shape with the remaining length of the leaves, and bind it with a length of soaked straw.
  • Put bamboo leaves in a pot, then place the wrapped zongzi on the leaves, and steam or boil for three to four hours.

How to Make Sweet Tea Zongzi

Main ingredients: glutinous rice, sweet tea, and dates

  • Stew the sweet tea.
  • Wash the glutinous rice and soak it in the tea.
  • Wrap the glutinous rice and dates 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

Zongzi Mamking Zongzi

Main ingredients: bamboo leaves and lengths of straw, glutinous rice, raisins, red dates (jujubes)

  • Wash and boil the bamboo leaves and straw for a few minutes until they are soft.
  • Wash and soak the glutinous rice.
  • Put the dates into a bowl and stone them after being steamed for a while.
  • Wash the raisins.
  • Put three bamboo leaves onto your palm, fold the leaves into a cone-shaped container and use a spoon to fill it with glutinous rice, dates, and raisins. Bind it in a triangular pyramid shape with a length of straw.
  • Put the wrapped zongzi into a pot, add water and boil for two hours, then reduce the heat and simmer for another three hours.

How to Make Mung Bean and Duck Egg Zongzi

Main ingredients: glutinous rice, mung beans, peanuts, cooked salted duck egg yolk, bamboo leaves and straw

  • 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 and straw for a few minutes until soft.
  • Fold two leaves into a funnel and use a spoon to fill them with the mixture. Bind it up in a trinagular pyramid shape with a length of straw.
  • Put the wrapped zongzi into a pot, add cold water, boil for one hour, then reduce the heat and simmer for another hour.

Famous Zongzi Brands in China

  • Wufangzai Zongzi — 五芳斋粽子 (one of China's top time-honored brands in Jiaxing, a well-known trademark)
  • Zhenzhen Laolao Zongzi — 真真老老粽子 (another of China's time-honored brands in Jiaxing)
  • Daoxiangcun Zongzi — 稻香村粽子 (one of China's time-honored brands from 1895)
  • Haolilai Zongzi — 好利来粽子 (Holiland, a famous chain business brand)
  • Sanquan Zongzi — 三全粽子 (one of China's top brands)
  • Sinian Zongzi — 思恋粽子 (another of China's top brands)

Sticky Rice Bundles (Zongzi) Menu

English Chinese Pronunciation Characters
Pork Sticky Rice Bundle ròu zòng Roh dzong 肉粽
Date Sticky Rice Bundle hóngzǎo zòng Hong-dzaoww dzong 红枣粽
Shanxi Honey Cold Sticky Rice Bundle Shǎnxī fēngmì liáng zòng Shaan-sshee fnng-mee lyang dzong 陕西蜂蜜凉粽

More Information on Dragon Boat Festival

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