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29. Zongzi for Chinese DuanWu festival

Chinese zongzi
Chinese zongzi
Happy Duanwu Festival!! 

Chinese Zongzi

Have you got the ‘five coloured thread’ already? — Juat for the good luck, maybe? :))

Continue from yesterday — making Zongzi today — to feel the involvement of the festival.

I have to say — it is really not easy to make it, and sometimes I feel thankful that I am actually far away from China, so I am forced to learn on my own, otherwise with my dad by my side, and millions ‘Zongzi’ being sold in the market, I would never be able to learn.

I have just showed my ‘Zongzi’ to my dad through webcam, he was super pleased — I bet it is never as beautiful as he made, but being able to make it makes him proud — he said that there are two things he learnt from my grandparents, one is making Chinese buttons another one is making ‘Zongzi’. He has been worried if these skills will be lost in the family (among me and my bro) — now, he smiled — there you go — me with my (clumsy) hands and impatience. :))

Starting from scratch to make ‘Zongzi’ is not easy, but fun. I kept feeling it is a family thing, I remember when my parents were preparing the rice and leaves in the kitchen, they sounded serious, as if something important happening in the family. :))

The recipe: Chinese Zongzi for the Dragon Boat festival

This is Northeast recipe of ‘Zongzi, the filling is very different to the Southern version)


Glutinous rice (It is very sticky rice after cooked. The stickiness is different from Northeast rice, the latter one would get broken grain and ‘melt’ with each other, where, glutinous rice is sticky together by a whole grain ‘glue’ to each other’. you can get it in any Chinese supermarket, it cannot be replaced by other types of rice in this recipe. )

Reed leaves or lotus leaves (I bought bamboo leaves in the Chinese supermarket, it is not as wide as some of ideal reed leaves or lotus leaves, but still good to use).

Iris lactea leaves (It is used for tightening after wrapping. Itself can be used for medical purpose, and wrapping zongzi could give Zongzi a more aromatic taste. Unfortunately  I could not find any in the shops, so I simply use thread instead).

Dried Jujube (in Chinese it is called ‘red date’.)

Sugar (when serving)


1)Soaking the glutinous rice in water for a day (24 hrs)

Chinese zongziMaking Chinese zongziChinese zongzi recipe

2)Boil the
bamboo leaves for about 20 minutes, for a thoroughly clean.

3) Clean the jujube if necessary for using it later.

4) Prepare the Iris lactea leaves, if you are like me using thread, cut about 1m per Zongzi.


1) Take one cleaned bamboo leaves, (if it is too narrow, or showing some ‘broken’ signs, take two overlapping each other, make it wider).

Zongzi (Dragon boat festival)

2) Fold one end of the leaves into a triangle ‘cup’, there is no gap in the bottom corner.

3) With one hand holds it, the other one place couple of tablespoon of pre-soaked rice in the ‘cup’.

Chinese zongzi recipeMaking zongzi (recipe)

4) Put one dried Jujube (red date) into the rice.

5) Fill in more rice to cover the date, and firmly press down.

Authentic zongziChinese duang wu festival food

6) Wrap the other long part of the leaves over, and keep on wrapping around the ‘triangle’ shaped ‘Zongzi’ body. The wrapping needs to be as tight as possible.

Chinese festival foodPreparing zongzi

7) Take the thread wrapping around the ‘Zongzi’, especially the three corner parts, then tie up the two ends of the thread.

Chinese zongzi with bamboo leaves

—- Here you go, one is done, more to go!:))


1) In a deep sauce pan, fill in water, and bring the water to boiling.

Boiling the zongzi

2) Place the ‘Zongzi’ in the water, one by one.

3) After it gets boiling, reduce the fire, and cover the lid for further 1 hour.


1) After boiling, take the ‘Zongzi’ out, rinse in cold water.

Boiling zongzi
Serving the zongzi

2) Untie the thread, peel off the leaves, place the rice ‘ball’ onto the plate, you can sprinkle some white sugar to go to with it. (In North, almost all of glutinous rice or flour made food go with sweet taste). But it depends on your own taste.

Boiling Chinese zongziChinese dragon boat festival

It can be served as part of the main meal, or snack, or breakfast. And it can be served cold or warm (after peel off the leave wrapping, it can be warmed up in the microwave). If you made a lot, they can be kept in the freezer for months. :)

To make it tight is certainly very important, but there is trick to make up the looseness during wrapping — using already boiled water to boil them is very important and necessary. My dad just said that as soon as the rice touches very hot water, they will get stick quickly, it will not be easy to make the rice ‘leak’.

I am so glad that eventually I learned to make it myself, but sometimes I could not help thinking if it was really for the stomach treat, or more for the nostalgia… Just smell it in the kitchen, I thought I fall in another ‘reality’ — I was laughing and pushing the boiled eggs against my friends’, and eating ‘Zongzi’ at the table that my parents prepared…..

Happy Duanwu Festival to everyone!!

Related posts:

7.2 Chinese dumplings: the pastry sheet
Culture Note: Chinese Chong Yang festival
112. Chinese Hot-pot! (part II)
112. Chinese hot-pot (part III)


5 Responses to “29. Zongzi for Chinese DuanWu festival”

  1. >It looks interesting and really taking some time to make!
    Happy Duanwu Festival!

    Posted by Sneige | June 6, 2011, 8:10 pm
  2. >Thanks! I know…. it really took some determination to start. but.. ha… for the stomach treat, i try to do everything. je je.. and sharing with neighbors :)))

    Posted by B@cookingsimplechineseathome | June 6, 2011, 10:24 pm
  3. >Super delicious — thanks!

    Posted by Ian Horrocks | June 9, 2011, 12:56 pm
  4. >Oh, I envy your neighbours! I wish I was your neighbour too! :)

    Posted by Sneige | June 10, 2011, 8:10 pm
  5. >:)
    Move in the block then!! We can exchange food or have joint meals!! :))

    Posted by B@cookingsimplechineseathome | June 10, 2011, 10:08 pm

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