Duan Wu Jie is a Chinese holiday and this year it will be on June 16th. Traditionally, this is the time of year you make Zong Zi for your family and friends. (See our Pork Zong Zi from last year.) I’ll admit that it’s a lot of work and this is probably the most difficult recipes on FoodMayhem, but that’s why you should make a batch and share. The hardest part is really the assembly so this time, we have video!

Before you get dicouraged, just know that it took me years to make acceptable looking ones, but all the mis-shapen practice ones will taste just as good. After years of wrapping, my mom still gives me tips as we stand and wrap. Hers still look better and anyone could pick ours apart. It’s a tradition that I cherish, one that I hope to pass to my kids. One day, mine will be the perfect looking ones. The fragrance of the bamboo leaves will permeate my kitchen and I’ll get to watch my kids smile, mouths stuffed with sticky rice. One day…


The Red Bean Zong Zi are sweet, eaten as snacks or dessert. My mom likes to use a mixture of canned red bean paste and her own home-made red beans for the filling. If you want a short cut, you can just used canned red bean paste. If you don’t like canned products, you can make your own filling entirely. So why does my mom use a mixture?

  • Texture Contrast – The red bean paste, even the ones that are chunky, are very soft. My mom makes her red beans slightly firm. She likes the 2 different textures together.
  • Balance Sweetness – The ready-made products are very sweet so we make ours less sweet so that the result is not too sweet for us, but you can decide how sweet you want yours.
  • Keeps Filling in the Center – Some red beans pastes will run, meaning that the filling will spread outward during the cooking process and mix with the sticky rice. The mixture of drier beans with the paste keeps the filling where it’s supposed to be.

bamboo leaves red bean filling top with sticky rice close bamboo leaf

Red Bean Zong Zi
~25 to 30 bundles

  • 7 cups sweet rice (sticky rice)
  • 30 – 35 dried bamboo leaves (some are extras because they rip of are the wrong size)
  • 2 cups dried red beans (medium)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 (16.75 oz) can red bean paste
  • string
  • sweetened condensed milk (optional)

Instructions –

1. Soak rice in cold water overnight. Soak bamboo leaves in warm water for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

2. Rinse the dried red beans and drain. Place in a medium sauce pot with 3 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 30 minutes. Stir in sugar and continue simmering, covered, for 1 hour. Check occasionally to make sure water does not evaporate completely. You want to end up with very little water but don’t burn. Remove from heat and allow to rest with the lid on for 3 hours. Check that beans are tender. In some cases, some beans take extra long to cook, you may have to cook again. When it’s done, let it come to room temperature.

3. While red beans are cooking, you can wipe the bamboo leaves with a soft sponge and return to warm water. Drain the sweet rice. Cut string into 2 1/2 ft lengths.

4. Assemble

5. When you’re done wrapping all the Zong Zi, tie 3 to 4 together in clusters. Place them in a large pot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn to medium heat and cook for 1 to 2 hours depending on the size of the zong zi. Cook all of them even if you are not eating them all that day. After they cool, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 weeks or 6 months in the freezer.

Zong Zi

6. To reheat, wrap in wet paper towel and microwave for 1 to 2 minutes (depends on your microwave) from refrigerator. Cut open and serve as is or drizzle sweetened condensed milk for more dessert-like effect.

Red Bean Zong Zi unwrapped 10

posted by jessica at 02:13 PM Filed under Chinese, Recipes, Video. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.