The fifth day of the fifth lunar month is the Dragon Boat Festival. It is an ancient traditional festival. It began in the Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States Period in China and has a history of more than 2,000 years. However, what made the food popular till present days was the Zongzi story attached to the Dragon Boat Festival in the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC) to commemorate the patriotic poet, Qu Yuan. Nowadays, apart from the festival time on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people can also eat this snack anytime they wish.
There is a large variety of Zongzi across China. They differ in size, shape, and filling. Obviously sweet and savory Zongzi are very different in taste, but I think they are equally delicious!
Having meat as the main filling is very popular in the southern regions of China. You may also find them filled with salted egg yolks, chestnuts, dried shrimp, etc.
Most people from the northern region of China like the Sweet Zongzi. Growing up with sweet Zongzi stuffed with red beans and/or Chinese dates. And for savory zongzi, it’s best when they’re hot or at least warm. As a side note, if you are eating sweet zongzi, they are actually best at room temperature or slightly chilled. The glutinous rice becomes even more delightfully chewy when chilled!
There is also a new form of Zongzi called Crystal Zongzi. The Crystal Zongzi is bright and colorful, the skin is crystal clear and looks like jelly, but the taste is soft like that of glutinous rice. And although it’s a dessert, it’s not too greasy to eat.
How to Make a Zongzi
1. Prepare the ingredients: sticky rice, bamboo or reed leaves, and some filings like red dates, meat and beans.
2. Wash the rice, and then boil the rice for 15-20 mins, or soak the rice in water for 2 hours.
3. Wash the leaves, and soak them in boiling waters for 5 mins, and then cool it in water.
4. Fold one or two leaves into a cone-shaped fossa, and fill rice and other ingredients in it with a spoon. The fillings should not be too packed, and then wrap and tie it with strings or boiled straws.
5. Put the Zongzi in the boiling pot and keep them fully submerged in water.
6. After 2-3 hours' boiling, put them in water to cool for eating.