Sunday, June 24, 2012

Zongi (Chinese Tamales) (粽子)

Grandma and I wrapped these Zongi on June 24, 2012 in celebration of the Duanwu Festival.

  • A bag of bamboo leaves
  • 5lb bag of premium sweet rice
  • Soy sauce
  • Salt
  • 5lbs Pork shoulder
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Rice Cooking Wine
  • Sugar
  • Water chestnuts
  • String (non-dyed) and scissors
  • Optional: mushrooms
1) Rinse both sides of each bamboo leaf to get any dust or dirt off.  Soak the leaves in water to soften them.

2) Mix 5lb of premium sweet rice with soy sauce and salt.

3) Chop up some ginger and garlic

3) Cut up the pork shoulder into chunks and add them to the garlic and ginger.

4) Add soy sauce, sugar, and rice cooking wine to the pork and let it marinade for 20 minutes.

5) Now you're ready to wrap the zongzi.  

The first step is to align the leaves just right.  This is an art in itself.

Take a bamboo leaf and run your fingers along both sides to figure out which side has a raised spine and which is smooth.  Also note which end is pointy and which end is more rounded.

Take a second bamboo leaf and align it with the first one so that their raised spines are touching; the smooth sides of each should be on the outside.  Also, the pointy end of one leaf should be lined up with the rounder end of the other leaf.  

Finally, slide the leaves ever so slightly away from each other so their ends are not perfectly lined up, but one end sticks out a bit.

Now fold the leaves into a cone, like you're making a snow cone holder.  Make sure the point at the bottom of the cone is folded over so no rice falls through.  Also, make the fold offset from the halfway point of the length of the leaves so that one set of ends is shorter than the other.  The longer ends should be on the outside and the shorter ends should be on the inside.  

Here's what it looks like at this point:

And here's my grandma folding hers:

6) Add a few tablespoons of rice into your snow cone pocket:

7) Add 2-3 chunks of pork, some water chestnut, and whatever else you want to add.

8) Add another few tablespoons of rice on top.

9) Squish the rice and meat down and make it as compact as possible.  Grandma packs it tight by giving it a few good smacks on each side.

10) Fold the end of the leaves over the top and push the sides of the leaves down.  Keep packing it all in as you're folding.

11)  Tie the leaves tight with string.  Grandma finds it convenient to hang the string over a doorknob.

 12) Repeat until you're out of rice, bamboo leaves, or pork.

13) Cook the zongzi by boiling them in a large pot for 1-2 hours until the rice is soft.  Halfway through, swap the ones on the bottom with the ones on top to ensure even cooking time.

14) Cut open the string and eat!

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