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Rou Zongzi {Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork}

A traditional Chinese sweet rice dumpling with pork filling

by Shirley
Rou Zongzi {Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork}

Rou Zongzi {肉粽子}, or sticky rice dumpling with pork filling is a traditional food in southern China. It features sweet rice, or Nuo Mi {糯米} in Chinese, wrapped in bamboo leaves with delicious pork chunks in the middle. So satisfyingly yummy and perfect for breakfast or snacks.

Rou Zongzi Recipe {Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork}

Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings} Story

Traditionally, Zongzi is a celebratory food for Duan Wu Jie {端午节} or Dragon Boat Festival which coincides with the Chinese Lunar calendar on May 5th every year.

The origin of this festival traced back to the ancient Chinese patriotic poet and politician named Qu Yuan {屈原} during the Warring States period around 300 BC.

Legend says when Qu Yuan was wrongfully executed, his body was thrown into a river. The people, deeply caring about him and fearing that the fish may devour his body, decided to throw wrapped rice in bamboo leaves into the river to feed the fish. This way, they hoped, the fish may just leave the body alone. The village people also went on boats, beating gongs and drums, and chased after the fish to drive them away.

So it began the tradition of wrapping Zongzi and racing boats in celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival.

Huai Yang Style Rou Zongzi

Generally speaking, there are two styles of Zongzi in China, the Huai Yang Style and the Cantonese Style. By the way, both Huai Yang and Cantonese are among the Four Great Cuisines in China. When it comes to Zongzi, Huai Yang and Cantonese style differ in terms of wrapping and filling.

Huai Yang Cuisine refers to the cuisine in China’s Yangze River Delta. Shanghai, Suzhou {my hometown}, Hangzhou, Yangzhou, Nanjing, and Wuxi are among the most well-known cities in this area. Jia Xing {嘉兴}, a city in Zhejiang province is especially well-known for its Zongzi.

Huai Yang style Zongzi

Huai Yang Zongzi looks like a pyramid having four distinct corners. People sometimes refer to “Si Jiao Zong 四角粽” {four corners zongzi}. In terms of filling, plain, sweet, or savory versions are all popular choices. Red beans, red bean paste and pork are among favored filling choices.

Cantonese Zongzi looks like a boat or pillow. People sometimes refer to “Zhen Tou Zong 枕头粽” {pillow zongzi}. Regarding the filling, the Cantonese version is almost always savory with salted egg yolk being one of the popular ingredients for filling.

How to make Rou Zongzi at home?

Tip No.1 is to soak sweet rice overnight

Sweet rice, also known as sticky rice or glutinous rice, is called “Nuo Mi” {糯米} in Chinese. They are native and popular in Southeast Asia. Making Zongzi is one way to enjoy this yummy rice. You can also use the stir-fried sweet rice as filling to make this delicious Shanghai Style Vegan Shao Mai {Shumai}.

Whether you make Zongzi or Shumai, you shall soak the sweet rice in plenty of water overnight, and let Nuo Mi fully soak up the water and rehydrate for the best taste.

Ingredients for Rou Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings}

Tip No.2 is to marinate the pork beforehand

For pork, pork butt or shoulder works great for Rou Zongzi. In other words, pork with a little bit of fat, but not too much would be ideal. Cut the pork into long strips first and then across into bite-size chunks. Marinate the pork with Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, and a tiny bit of Zhenjiang vinegar along with spices such as anise, cinnamon, coriander seeds, ginger, and sugar.

Tip No.3 is to wrap Zongzi in easy traditional way

Since I was born in Suzhou, in the heart of China’s Yangtze River Delta, my favorite way of wrapping Zongzi is Huai Yang Style “Four Corners”. Tell you what, folding Zongzi can be a walk in the park as long as you know a few tips and tricks. Read here for an easy-to-follow guided recipe on how to wrap Zongzi.

how to wrap zongzi?

Last but not least is to cook Zongzi in cast iron or clay pot

Cast iron or clay pot is the best to cook Zongzi. They have superb heat retention capabilities which will cook the sweet rice with pork filling evenly and beautifully.

Add water that barely covers Zongzi, turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil. Then turn the heat down to simmer and cook for one hour. Remember to cover the wok with a dome-shaped wok lid during cooking. That’s it!

freshly cooked Zongzi in the cast iron wok

I use my 14-inch cast iron wok, which can hold 19 Zongzi, which this recipe produces, nicely.

Enjoy a naturally yummy Rou Zong Zi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork Filling}!

Rou Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork Fillilng}
Rou Zongzi {Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork}

Rou Zongzi Recipe {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork Filling}

Yield: 19 Zongzi
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Additional Time: 12 hours
Total Time: 14 hours 15 minutes

Rou Zongzi {肉粽子}, or Chinese sticky rice dumpling with pork filling is a traditional and well-liked food. It features sweet rice, or Nuo Mi {糯米} in Chinese, wrapped in bamboo eaves with delicious pork chunks in the middle.

Ingredients

  • 1,000 g sweet rice
  • 2 lb pork, shoulder or butt
  • 40 large dried bamboo leaves

For Marinating the Pork:

  • 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Zhenjiang vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp anise powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/2 tsp cane sugar

For Marinating the Sweet Rice:

  • 3 tbsp naturally aged soy sauce, or dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp light soy sauce

Instructions

Prepare sweet rice and pork in advance:

  • Use a kitchen scale to measure out 1000 g of sweet rice and soak in plenty of water overnight.
  • On the day of cooking, rinse and drain the rice a few hours before wrapping.
  • Wash and rinse the pork well, cut it into narrow long strips first and then across into bite-size chunks. Place them into a glass mixing bowl, and add everything under "For Marinating the Pork". Use a pair of bamboo spatulas to toss, mix and fold well. See notes. Cover it with a lid or food film and store it in the refrigerator.
    Ingredients for Rou Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumplings}

Wrap Zongzi:

  • Right before you are ready to wrap, pick 40 good wide large bamboo leaves from the package. Wash, rinse, and soak in water for about 15 minutes in a large water basin. This recipe makes about 19 Zongzi, so you will need 38 bamboo leaves. The extra two are backups just in case one or two bamboo leaves get torn during the wrapping process.
    soak dried bambaoo leaves in water for wrapping zongzi
  • Place the drained sweet rice in a large mixing bowl, and everything under "For Marinating the Sweet Rice". Use a pair of bamboo spatulas to fold and mix well.
  • Get a spoon with a relatively flat bottom ready for scooping the sweet rice. Also, get the bakers' twine ready.
  • Drain the water in the washing basin and start to wrap Zongzi. Read here a detailed step-by-step tutorial on how to wrap Zongzi Huai Yang style.
    how to fold Chinese sticky rice dumpling {zongzi}?

Cook Zongzi:

  • Place freshly wrapped Zongzi in a 14-inch cast-iron wok, or other cast iron stockpot or clay pot. Add water that barely covers the Zongzi, about 6 cups.
    ready to cook Zongzi in the cast iron wok
  • Cover the wok with a dome-shaped lid. Turn the heat to medium-high and bring it to a boil, about 12 minutes.
  • Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for 1 hour.
    freshly cooked Zongzi in the cast iron wok
  • All done! Enjoy a naturally yummy Rou Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork Filling}.
    Rou Zongzi {Chinese Sticky Rice Dumpling with Pork Fillilng}

Notes

  • You can either marinate the pork the night before or a few hours before wrapping.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 19 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 235Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 43mgSodium: 536mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 0gProtein: 18g

Nutrition calculation is provided by Nutritionix to the best knowledge per ingredients description and isn't always accurate.

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