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Cantonese-Style Zongzi opened with chopsticks cutting into it.
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Cantonese-Style Zongzi (Sticky Rice Dumplings 廣式粽)

Get ready for the Dragon Boat Festival with Cantonese-style Zongzi! They're wrapped with mung beans, sausage, mushrooms, salted egg yolk and dried shrimp!
Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time2 hrs
Soaking Time1 d
Total Time1 d 3 hrs
Course: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: Asian, Cantonese, Chinese
Servings: 18 zongzi/joong
Calories: 413kcal
Author: Jeannette

Equipment

  • Twine or string
  • 3-4 Colander (for the soaked and rehydrated ingredients as well as the cooked leaves)
  • 2 large bowls (for soaking the grains and mung beans)
  • Scissors (for removing the stems off the mushrooms)
  • Large pot (for boiling the bamboo leaves; needs to be big enough to fit them)
  • reusable cloths (for wiping the bamboo leaves)

Ingredients

For The Rice

  • 5 US cup glutinous rice
  • 3 tsp salt (1 tsp for soaking with the rice and 3 tsp for soaking with the mung beans)
  • 4 tbsp salt (for seasoning rice)
  • 1 US cup oil (with a neutral taste)
  • water (for rinsing)

For The Filling

  • 3 US cup mung bean
  • 18 salted egg yolk (or enough for each dumpling)
  • 5 Chinese sausage
  • 150 g / 0.33 lb dehydrated shrimp (rehydrated with cool water)

For The Pork Belly

  • 800 g / 1.8 lb pork belly
  • 1/2 tbsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 3 tsp five spice powder (or to preference)

For The Mushrooms

  • 150 g / 0.33 lb dehydrated shiitake mushroom (rehydrated with cool water)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tbsp oil

For The Wrapping

  • 1 packet bamboo leaf
  • 1 US cup oil (with a neutral taste)
  • water (for boiling the joong)

Instructions

The Night Before

  • Rinse the glutinous rice 3 times in a large bowl using cool water. Pour 1L (4.22 US cup) water into the bowl along with 1 tsp salt and stir it through. Let it soak overnight.
  • Do the same with the mung beans by rinsing them 3 times with cool water in a separate large bowl or until the water runs clear. Add 1.5L (6.3 US cup) water into the bowl and 2 tsp salt, then mix it in and let it sit overnight.
    Pro Tip: If you need to rehydrate the shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp or dried chestnuts, rinse and soak them in cool water as well and let them rest overnight with the soaking grains and mung beans. This will save you from having to do it the next morning.

Prepping The Ingredients

  • On the morning of making your Cantonese-style Zongzi, transfer the soaked rice into a colander and let it drip dry for a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • In a separate colander, pour in the mung beans and let the liquid drain out of them for a minimum of 20 minutes as well.
  • After the 20 minutes, season the grains with 4 tbsp salt and mix it in well. Pour 1 US cup oil onto the rice a little at a time while stirring it through. Leave it as is until it's ready to be used.
  • Meanwhile, cut the pork belly into large chunks, roughly 3cm (1.2") thick. Marinate them with 3 tbsp five spice (or enough to cover the pieces), 1 tbsp sugar and 1/2 tbsp salt.
    Let it rest while you work on preparing the other ingredients.
  • Squeeze the liquid out of each soaked shiitake mushroom and use scissors to remove the stems.
    Note: You can discard the mushroom water or save it as a braising liquid for chicken, mushrooms, sea cucumber or abalone.
  • Marinate the shiitake mushrooms with 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp chicken bouillon powder and 1 tbsp oil. Let it rest as you work on the Chinese sausages.
  • Slice the Chinese sausages at an angle roughly 1cm (0.4") thick.
    Aunty's Tip: Don't cut them too thin, otherwise you won't be able to taste much of it in the filling.
  • Stir the rehydrated shrimp in until thoroughly incorporated.

Preparing The Leaves

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and pour in 1 US cup oil. There needs to be enough water to cover all the leaves. Add the dried bamboo leaves in to cook for 5-10 minutes or until they've turned dark and tender.
  • When ready, transfer them into a colander to dry.
  • To dry the leaves, line your table with a damp cloth. Place one leaf on top of the flat cloth and use another damp cloth to gently wipe both sides dry. Repeat until all are wiped.
    Pro Tip: This is the perfect time to get the family involved, especially children! Getting someone else to wipe will give you more time to work on the rest of the steps for your Cantonese-style Zongzi.

How To Wrap The Joong

  • Line 5 bamboo leaves in one line from top to bottom with each leaf slightly overlapping the one above it. You can use more if you feel that the leaves aren't big enough.
  • Scoop roughly 2 tbsp of the rice and shrimp and pour it into the middle of the bamboo leaves. Spread the mixture out to make a square roughly 12cm (4.7") wide.
  • Scoop 1.5-2 tbsp of the mung bean filling and pour it over the rice. Flatten the beans over the top to create a thin layer.
  • Assemble your toppings. At home, we usually put the salted egg yolk in the middle, the Chinese sausages on 2 corners, the pork belly on the opposite corners and the mushrooms in the gaps between the egg yolk and sausages.
    Note: Which toppings you choose to add to your Cantonese-style Zongzi will depend on your personal preference. You can add more or less of any ingredient you like.
  • Pour 2-3 tbsp of the mung beans over the toppings, spreading it out to cover as much of the toppings as you can.
    Pro Tip: Scoop 1/2 tbsp at a time to distribute it evenly.
  • Scoop 3 tbsp of the grains and shrimp over the mung beans to cover everything completely.
  • Lay 2-3 bamboo leaves over the last layer of grains. Make sure they cover everything.
  • To wrap, fold the leaves on the top half of the joong over the leaves that were placed on top of the rice. Make sure to place a firm hand over the folded leaves to keep them together.
  • Repeat with the bottom: Bring the leaves on the bottom half of the joong over the leaves that were placed on top of the rice.
  • While holding everything together tightly, bring the bottom opening to the edge of your table or countertop until the edge meets the end of the rice filling.
  • Fold the bamboo leaves down using the edge of your table or countertop and then back up to envelop the bottom of the joong.
    This step is similar to sealing the flap of an envelope, except the letter is the rice filling.
  • Rotate the Cantonese-style Zongzi 180° and fold the top the same way until you have a parcel.
    Pro Tip: Make sure the leaves are wrapped tightly around the filling, the same way Gỏi Cuốn (Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls) are. This will help to keep everything inside.

How To Tie The Joong

  • Tuck a piece of string under the top third of the dumpling.
  • Bring the two ends of the string together and tie it like you would at the start of tying shoe laces. Make sure that it's not too loose.
  • Tie it again to make a secure knot.
  • Rotate the string so that it stretches across the length of the joong, then tuck it underneath to wrap around the length.
  • Hold the Cantonese-style Zongzi with one hand and use your fingers to keep the string in place while you wrap more of the string around the middle of the joong.
  • Bring the string down to the bottom third of the dumpling and wrap it around so that the whole joong ends up with a grid of 8 rectangles.
  • Wrap the string around to the front and tie a secure knot to hold everything in place.
  • Optional: Tie a shorter string at two different points to create a handle. This will make it easier to scoop the Cantonese-style Zongzi out of the pot when they're cooked.

Cooking And Serving The Dumplings

  • Place the dumplings into a large pot and pour cold water in until it just covers each one. Bring the heat up to high and let it come to a simmer. Once it reaches that point, keep the heat on medium or so that the water is just simmering the entire time.
  • Cook the Cantonese-style Zongzi for 2 hours, checking on the water level every 30 minutes. If the water level is below the joong, add hot or boiling water until it covers them again.
  • When ready, take them out and place them in a colander to drip dry.
  • Serve immediately as is, with sugar or sliced and pan fried until crisp on the outside!

Notes

  • Use larger leaves. They make it much easier to wrap with as there are fewer openings for the filling to fall out from.
  • Get fattier pork belly pieces. This will give each joong a more fragrant taste and make each bite juicer.
  • Keep the heat at a consistent simmer. Avoid boiling the Cantonese-style Zongzi because you want the filling be cooked through and the bamboo leaf flavor infused into each dumpling.
  • Avoid overstuffing. The more you put in the filling, the higher the chance of the filling coming out as your wrap or cook.
  • It's important that when making these dumplings that you use glutinous rice. Not only does it compliment the texture and flavor of each ingredient, it also expands and becomes sticky as it cooks to envelop the filling so it stays in the dumpling.
  • Don't be alarmed by the high salt content! It will release into the water as it boils.
  • When buying mung beans, opt for the peeled split mung beans to save yourself the extra work of peeling each one yourself.
  • You can also buy salted egg yolks frozen in Chinese supermarkets or refrigerated from Chinese goods stores.
  • Cantonese joong is often filled with Chinese sausages, mushrooms, salted egg yolks and seasoned pork belly. Another option is to add dried chestnuts for added texture.
  • For the mushrooms, we bought the smaller versions but you can use larger ones too. Just halve them so they fit better inside.
  • Zongzi needs to be tied using a strong string that can withstand hours in hot water. At home, we often use twine or a PHD plastic strings. So long as the string can secure the bamboo leaf wrapping around each dumpling and stay in tact during cooking, they'll work well.

Nutrition

Calories: 413kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 127mg | Sodium: 2596mg | Potassium: 223mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 7IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg