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Dragon Boat Festival Recipe: Savor zongzi in honor of dragon boat races

Photo by Christina Santucci

Spoon: Chinese porcelain soup spoon; large pot

Combine 4 cups each of jasmine rice and glutineous rice (the long-pointed variety, not the rounded ones). Wash, drain well, season with 2.5 spoons of salt, and 2.5 spoons of “half and half” (equal mixture of sugar and MSG)

For 27 dumpling rice balls:

1.5 packages of Chinese sausages cut into 4 pieces crosswise

3 cups peanuts soaked overnight, drained and stir-fried with salt, pepper

1.5 packages of dried shrimp soaked overnight, drained and stir-fried with ground pepper

2 cups presoaked and sliced Chinese mushrooms, stir-fried, lightly seasoned

2 or 3 large Spanish onions, sliced and stir-fried lightly with salt and pepper

Pre-salted pork butt cut into finger-size thickness and length (see component recipe below)

Salted egg yolks, half a yolk per rice ball

Keep all ingredients in separate containers

8 sheaves of bamboo leaves – 3 leaves per rice ball

Salted pork:

Use boneless pork butt: cut into 1-inch thick slices.

Cover with salt and marinate for 3 days unrefrigerated

Rinse off and cut into finger-sized pieces

Bamboo leaves:

3 days before using, separate leaves and soak in a container large enough to hold the leaves and soak in a container large enough to hold the leaves without cramping.

When the leaves are softened, boil leaves with half cup of vinegar.

When cooled, run each leave between thumb and index finger to rub off any dirt

Place in fresh water until ready to use.

About an hour before using, pull leaves out and “stand them up” to drain off excess water, but keep the leaves moist. Don’t let them dry out. It’s good to keep extras in a large plastic container with the lid on. Pull out only enough to make about 10 rice balls at a time. Boil for rice balls 2.5 hours, making sure the rice ball is submerged at all times.

May be frozen after boiling and cooling.

To reheat – thaw the night before, steam or boil for 30 minutes, or reheat in microwave.

Zongzi Recipes:

Each region of China has its own special form of zongzi. For example, in southern China you will find pork soaked in soy sauce or bean paste in the middle of the rice. Beijing zongzi is made with dried dates. Plain zongzi may be eaten with honey or sugar.

Zongzi can be many shapes, but the most common is pyramidal or triangular.

Making Zongzi is a challenge, even for experienced Chinese cooks.

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