Jianshui Zong (Alkaline Rice Dumplings - 碱水粽)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Jianshui Zong (碱水粽),also known as Lye Water Rice Dumplings, or Alkaline Rice Dumplings, are a Cantonese-style rice dumpling served sweet with sugar or syrup
Author:
Recipe type: Rice
Cuisine: Chinese
Serves: 15
Ingredients
The Day Before: Make the Red Bean Paste
  • 1 ¼ cups (9 ounces) adzuki (red) beans
  • 3 ¾ cups water
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • Sugar to taste
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
The Night Before: Soak the Rice and Bamboo Leaves
  • 1 pound sweet rice (sticky rice), about 2 ¼ cups
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lye water
  • ½ tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 30-40 dried bamboo leaves
The Next Day: Making and Cooking the Zongzi
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lye water
  • Kitchen string
Instructions
The Day Before: Make the Red Bean Paste:
  1. Soak the red beans in water for 2 to 3 hours, then rinse off and drain.
  2. Add the soaked red beans, 3 ¾ cups water, and baking soda to a medium pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer until the beans are softened and opened-up (about 30 minutes). Stir periodically to avoid burning.
  3. If you see a lot of liquid remaining even after the beans are softened and have opened up, turn up the heat, remove the lid, and let the liquid cook off. While you’re doing this, watch the beans closely and stir occasionally to avoid burning. Remove from the heat and let the beans cool for a bit before pureeing the cooked beans in a food processor. You can also use an immersion blender, but a food processor will result in a more even puree.
  4. Put the red bean puree in a thick-bottomed pan set over medium-high heat, and cook off the liquid, stirring constantly. This process will take about 25 to 30 minutes. Add the sugar (to taste) early in the cooking process so it has a chance to fully dissolve.
  5. Towards the end of the cooking time, add the ¼ cup of vegetable oil in two batches. The oil will prevent the puree from sticking to the pan too much. The paste is done once it “stays” in place rather than oozing across the pan. Transfer the paste to a dish, and let it cool before storing it in the refrigerator, covered.
The Night Before: Soak the Rice and Bamboo Leaves:
  1. Rinse the sweet rice a couple of times until the water runs clear rather than cloudy. Next, transfer the rice to a large bowl with enough water so that the water line is ½-inch above the rice. Stir in 1½ tablespoons of lye water and ½ tablespoon vegetable oil. Once the lye water hits the fresh water, both the rice and water will turn a light yellow color––that’s normal. Soak the rice, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In a large basin (or your kitchen sink), soak the bamboo leaves overnight. Weigh the leaves down with something heavy to make sure all of the leaves are submerged.
The Next Day: Making and Cooking the Zongzi:
  1. Clean each bamboo leaf, front and back, with a clean kitchen towel, shaking off any excess water and trimming off about a half inch of the bamboo leaf at the base (this part is too tough and rigid to handle). Set aside.
  2. Take the soaked rice out of the refrigerator, and drain off all of the liquid. Set it aside.
  3. Take out the red bean paste, and divide it into 15 equal-sized balls.
  4. Now you’re ready to assemble the zongzi! Take two bamboo leaves and follow the steps shown in the photos, tying them off with kitchen string. Each rice dumpling takes about 2 tablespoons of soaked rice and one portion of red bean paste. Just remember not to tie the string too snugly, as the rice will need room to expand during the cooking process. After unwrapping a zongzi, it shouldn’t look like it has been wearing a pair of pans that’s two sizes too small. :)
  5. In a large pot, arrange the zongzi neatly, and fill the pot with water--about 1-inch above the top of the zongzi. Add ½ tablespoon of lye water to the pot, and place a heat-proof bowl or plate on top of everything to weigh down the zongzi. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn the heat to medium to slow cook the zongzi for 2½ hours. Check the water levels periodically, replenishing the pot with boiling water when the waterline falls below the top of zongzi.
  6. After 2 ½ hours, turn off the heat, and take out the zongzi to let them cool. Serve the zongzi at room temperature with sugar or the syrup of your choice!
Recipe by The Woks of Life at https://thewoksoflife.com/alkaline-rice-dumplings-zongzi/