Zong Zi (Sticky rice and goodies wrapped in palm leaves)

For those of you who don’t know what a zong zi is… It’s basically the Asian version of a tamale. Like rice balls, I must say that the East got it right. It is *way* better than a tamale, because instead of masa, which can be dry, this is packed with sticky rice. Which, in my opinion, is the best rice ever.

Pork belly sliced into thin pieces so that you can stuff them in your zong zi.

Aromatics: 2 whole cloves of garlic, spring onions, star anise, oil, shallots, and portobello mushrooms. Somehow the dried and preserved mushrooms that are reconstituted with water always taste better than fresh mushrooms. They are just more fragrant. I left everything that I don’t plan on stuffing in big chunks so that I can fish them out later.

The pork was then thrown in and browned slightly. For the sauce, I added dark soy sauce, mirin, and brown sugar. This is brought to a boil and simmered for 1 hour.

Palm leaves for wrapping. Some people use banana leaves or bamboo leaves. I used what I could find.

Instead of soaking in warm water for 5 minutes, I soak them in *boiling* water, because you don’t freaking know where these have been. They could have bird poop on them, and you’re about to use them to wrap your food. (To my bf when you read this: Do not despair. I checked them for bird poop and washed them each separately with my hands after boiling them)

If you plan on attempting this, there are a ton of videos online about how to wrap them. The gist of it is, you make a cone, shove your food in, close the opening, and you bind that thing with string like it’s about to come alive and bite your hand off.

This is what making a red bean on looks like.

Here is my deliciously dark roasted pork belly and mushrooms! The sticky rice had been soaked for 3 hours. I dumped the rice that I didn’t use for the sweet red bean zong zi into my meat pan to deglaze all the yummy flavors off the bottom and into the rice.

Making the rest of the meat zong zi! My bf complained that he didn’t like these things because they usually only had one piece of meat. Well I made so much meat that I started off with packing 2 pieces in each… and ended up trying to shove 4 or 5 into one zong zi.

They are then boiled and simmered for 2 whopping hours.

The insides of a savory one and a sweet one. They turned out nice and soft on the outside with the slightly sweet sticky rice. The inside was hot, moist, and full of flavor.

The super packed zong zi even won my bf over.

I guess we’ve got breakfast for the rest of the week!

3 Responses

    • Hi mc, you definitely can! I’ve had it with beef before, which works as well. Beef, lamb, and pork probably soak up sauce better than chicken. If you use chicken, I would suggest cooking the rice in more soy sauce and stock. Another traditional filling is salted duck eggs.

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