Zong Zi, also called Chinese Tamales (but I hate that name) are one of my favorite things in the world. They come in many flavors but the jist is some kind of sticky rice mixture wrapped in bamboo leaves. The bamboo leaf imparts an almost tea like aroma to the rice and the smell wafting from my moms kitchen lures me every time.

wrapping zong zi 8

Zong Zi has a lot of history and is traditionally made on or right before Duan Wu Je (Dragon Boat Festival) which is tomorrow (this year)! The holiday commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a famous poet who drowned himself in the Miluo River. The legend is that the people of his kingdom boarded boats beating drums to scare away the fish, and dropped packets of rice in the river, hoping the fish would eat the rice instead of their beloved poets body.

Duan Wu Je is celebrated every year with dragon boat races and the eating and sharing of zong zi. Because the holiday is based on the Chinese Lunar calendar (5th day of the 5th month), I never knew when it was exactly. As a kid, I would ask my mother every few months, is it that holiday yet? Which holiday? The holiday where you make me Zong zi. haha Seriously, even as a kid, all I thought about was food. Eating too much sticky rice can be hard to digest though so my mom used to have to monitor carefully that we didn’t eat too much. I would whine and argue for more and then get my mom to promise to make more soon, even if it wasn’t the holiday.

Zong Zi come in savory versions and sweet versions. The pork kind traditionally has a strip of lean pork beside a strip of fat, resting in the center of sticky rice. I’ve also eaten ones with peanuts, ones with salted egg, and I love the sweet ones filled with red bean paste. The version my mom makes is her own recipe and I’ve never seen it elsewhere. It is by far my favorite and I am sharing the recipe in part 2, so stay tuned.

Part 2 (the recipe) is now up!

posted by jessica at 09:03 AM Filed under Basics, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.