Cantonese Pork Belly Zongzi Recipe

4 2,589

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, has a history of more than 2,000 years. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, which falls on June 7 this year.

There are many legends about the origins of the festival. One of the best known says that it commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a poet, scholar, and advisor of the Chu state during the Warring States Period of China’s Zhou Dynasty (475–221 BC).

Qu Yuan dedicated his entire life to being a loyal advisor to the king, and helping the state of Chu become more powerful. Sadly, he was accused of treason by other jealous and wicked officials and exiled.

Later, the hostile Qin state conquered the Chu state. Out of sadness and disappointment, on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, Qu Yuan committed suicide in the Miluo River of Hunan province.

When the local people heard the news, they rowed their boats out to the river to search for his body. When they were unsuccessful, they tossed clusters of rice into the water to feed the fish, so they would not eat his body.

As time went by, these became the enduring traditions for the Dragon Boat Festival: Boat rowing took the form of dragon boat racing, and the clusters of rice evolved into zongzi, or sticky rice dumplings.

Zongzi, traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival, are made with sticky rice and a variety of delectable fillings, ranging from sweet to savory, based on regional ingredients and your personal preference. The parcels are wrapped in fragrant bamboo leaves, tied with twine, and boiled or steamed until their aroma permeates your entire kitchen.

Making zongzi at home is a labor of love, but well worth the effort.
Pork Belly Zongzi

Makes 12 zongzi
Prep Time: Overnight, plus 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours

For the pork belly:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar
1 pound pork belly, cut into 1/3 inch slices

For the sticky rice:
4 cups uncooked glutinous rice, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the mung beans:
2 cups skinless mung beans, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar

For the peanuts:
1 cup peanuts, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
Pinch of salt
Pinch of sugar

For assembly:
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
1/4 cup dried shrimp, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
36 bamboo leaves, rinsed, soaked in water overnight, and drained (2 leaves per zongzi, plus extra to replace any that are torn or too small; you can buy these at any Chinese supermarket, or online)
12 salted duck egg yolks (you can buy these at any Chinese supermarket, or online)

The night before: In a large bowl, mix together all seasonings for the pork belly. Add the pork belly and mix well. Transfer to the fridge to marinate overnight.

Rinse the glutinous rice, mung beans, peanuts, shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, and bamboo leaves. Place each ingredient in a separate bowl, cover with water, and let soak overnight. Drain before using.

Prep the fillings: Drain the glutinous rice, transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the seasonings and oil, and mix well.

Drain the mung beans, transfer to another large mixing bowl, add the seasonings, and mix well.

Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Drain the peanuts and add them to the pot with their seasonings. Boil over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until softened. Some peanut skins will float to the top of the water; skim them off. Drain and set aside.

Mix together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.

Drain the shiitake mushrooms, slice into 1/4-inch-thick slices, and set aside. Drain the shrimp and set aside.

Preheat a wok over high heat and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the pork belly, reduce heat to medium, and cook until well done, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, and sauce. Stir fry for 1 minute. Remove from wok and set aside.

Assemble the zongzi: Drain the bamboo leaves and wipe them dry. Use a pair of kitchen shears to trim off about 1/2 inch from both ends of the leaves.

Working with two bamboo leaves at a time, lay them out horizontally, smooth side up. Brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on the smaller piece. The oil will prevent the sticky rice from sticking to the bamboo leaves when you unwrap them. Then place the leaves side by side and overlap the ends, so that the right half of the smaller leaf is on top of the left half of the larger one.

Holding the leaves together, flip them over and fold them in half horizontally, away from you. Then fold over about one inch of one of the edges, lengthwise, while pushing the opposite edge open into a cone. Flip the cone so that you are holding it with the opening facing up.

To fill the cone, add 1 tablespoon of rice; 1 tablespoon of mung beans; 2 1/2 tablespoons of the pork belly, mushroom, and shrimp mixture; 1 salted duck egg yolk; and 1/2 tablespoon of peanuts. Top with another 1 tablespoon of mung beans and 2 1/2 tablespoons of rice. You can also tweak the proportions based on your preference. Make sure that everything is tightly packed into the cone.

To cover the cone, fold over the remaining parts of the leaves down and over the opening, tightly covering it. Fold the overhanging left and right edges down the sides of the cone, then fold the remaining overhang to one side, wrapping it tightly around the cone. Make sure there is no opening.

Tightly wrap cooking twine around the parcel several times and tie the ends into a knot. Trim any extra twine.

Repeat with the rest of the bamboo leaves, rice, and fillings to make 12 zongzi total.

Cook the zongzi: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the zongzi. They should be completely submerged in the water. Cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 2 hours, checking every 30 minutes and adding additional hot water if it no longer covers the zongzi.

Take out the zongzi and drain. Cut the twine. Let cool for about 1 hour before opening, so that they better hold their shape.

You might also like
4 Comments
  1. Thanks so much for the recipe! Shared on my blog, with links to yours

    1. CiCi says

      Thank you for sharing! 🙂

  2. YASUA says

    AMAZING website

    1. CiCi says

      Thank you! I’m glad that you like it! 🙂

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.