Our detailed, step-by-step Cantonese-style zongzi recipe (or joong in Cantonese), a traditional Chinese savory sticky rice treat with pork, peanuts, and salted duck egg yolk eaten during the Dragon Boat festival.
First, soak the leaves overnight. The next day, wash and rinse each leaf front and back, keeping them in a large bowl or tub of water until wrapping time so they don’t dry out.
Soak the sweet rice overnight. The next day, drain completely. Mix the soaked, uncooked rice with 2 tablespoons light soy sauce and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl and set aside.
Soak the peanuts overnight. The next day, boil for 5 minutes, drain, and set aside.
In a bowl, toss the pork belly with 2 teaspoons light soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and white pepper. Marinate overnight. The goal of this step is to make the pork belly slightly too salty, because the rice will absorb the excess salt, giving the zongzi its distinctive savory, umami flavor.
The next day, heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Cook the pork belly for a few minutes before adding the water. Cover the wok with the lid, and cook for 5-10 minutes until the liquid is gone. Remove from the wok and let cool.
Cut the egg yolks in half. Cut the sausages into 12 equal pieces. Set aside in separate bowls.
Follow the step-by-step photos to wrap the zongzi. Remember: You must cut away at least half an inch off the bottom of every leaf you use. Make sure the kitchen twine won’t break easily. To do this, it’s best to wet the twine first by soaking it in a bowl of water. It’s best to tie one end of the twine to an anchor point or kitchen fixture (e.g. you kitchen sink), because you will only have one hand to tie the zongzi. Your other hand will be holding the zongzi. Or have someone help you out! If leaves rip anywhere during the wrapping process, you’ll need to start over and discard the ripped leaf. That’s why I call for more leaves than is technically needed. Some of the leaves are bound to rip.
To cook the Zongzi, get a medium-sized pot and neatly nest the zongzi inside, avoiding large gaps. Put a large plate directly on top of the zongzi to weigh them down. Fill the pot with cold water, until the zongzi are submerged. Place the pot on the stove over medium high heat. Once the water boils, turn the heat to low/medium-low, and let it simmer for at least 7-8 hours.
The water should be “moving” while simmering, but there should be no large roiling bubbles. You must check the pot fairly often to make sure the zongzi are always submerged in water. Only add boiling water to adjust the water level—do not add room temperature or cold water. Keep a kettle of hot water on the stove so that you’re prepared throughout the 7-8 hour cooking time.
Once the 7-8 hours is up, eat the zongzi while they’re hot! Sweet zongzi can be enjoyed at room temperature, but savory zongzi are really the best when they’re steamy and delicious.