Zong is a bundle of sticky glutinous rice filled with lots of tasty goodness. It’s like a warm hug and is shared with family and friend during Dragon Boat Festival - a whole day dedicated to eating zong!
Mama Fu has been making zong all her life and when Dragon Boat Festival comes around each year you can see her in the kitchen making hundreds, yes hundreds of zong to share with friends and family. Those that have ordered with us this year during Dragon Boat Festival week will have received one to try with their online order - lucky them! We might be biased but we think Mama Fu's zong is the best!
The hardest part of making these nostalgic hearty bundles of sticky rice is in the wrapping. If it’s your first time making these, the wrapping can really test your patience but why not take it on as a little challenge! Think of it as a bit of an arts and craft exercise.
If you master the wrapping then you’re well on your way at becoming a zong expert because it’s actually not too hard to make it tasty.
The beauty of making zong yourself is that you can put in whatever fillings you fancy. It’s really up to you! Mama Fu likes to use pork belly, chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms, red beans, mung beans and chestnuts. You can vary the amounts of beans and filling you put in to your liking. Many people like to add in a salted egg yolk in too! We haven’t included it in this recipe but it’s super easy to just add these in too.
This recipe makes 12 zong.
- 1kg Glutinous rice
- 180g Mung beans
- 1/2 kg Red beans
- 1/2 packet Bamboo leaves
- 1/2kg pork belly (depending on how fatty you want it) - chopped up in 3cm slices
- 10 pieces Dried shiitake mushrooms
- Frozen chestnut - 1 bag
- 3 Chinese sausage - cut up in 1cm slices
- Garlic - 3 cloves
- 2 tablespoons dark soy
- 3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- ½ tablespoon Five spice powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- String - 6 x (2 x 70cm)
One of the keys to making zong is in the preparation the night before - soak soak soak. Soak the main ingredients in water overnight so when you cook you have all your elements ready to go.
Soak in water the night before:
- Wash and soak the glutinous rice
- Bamboo leaves
- Mung beans
- Red bean
- Use frozen chestnuts as it’s more crunchy. It’s not recommended to use fresh chestnuts as it’s softer and you don’t get as much of a crunchy bite.
- Place the soaked glutinous rice in a wok on medium heat and stir fry, while you’re stir frying put in a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of five spice powder. Continue to stir fry the rice until it becomes dry. Once that’s done, place it in a bowl and mix in the red beans.
- Heat up some oil in the wok and place the garlic in until it becomes fragrant then add in the pork belly. Then add 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 3 tablespoons premium soy sauce, ½ table spoon five spice powder, 1 tablespoon sugar. Seal off the pork belly with high heat for 2-3 minutes and then add in the shiitake mushrooms, chestnuts and Chinese sausage. Stir fry the meat mixture for a couple of minutes and then add in 2 tablespoons of water, simmer on medium heat for around 30-40 minutes until the water dries out.
- While the meat is simmering, dry each individual bamboo leaf with a paper towel before use.
- Once the meat is done, we're ready to wrap the zong, the hardest part of it all.
- Take two pieces of bamboo leaves and place them on top of each other, with the smooth side facing you as that's the inside. Hold the two leaves with your thumb on the tops of the leaves like so. Don't hold them exactly in the middle, have them spaced towards the lower end of the leaves.
- Then twist your bottom hand towards the right to make a squarish cone shape.
- Once it's in a comfortable cone shaped position in your hand, add two tablespoons of the glutinous rice and red bean mix. Pack it in very firmly. Then put one tablespoon of mung bean over the glutinous rice mix.
11. It's time to pack in the filling. Put in one piece of pork belly, shiitake mushroom, Chinese sausage, chestnut. You can put in more than one piece of the filling if you'd like. It might just get a bit hard to wrap later if it's too full.
12. Once you've put all your fillings in cover it with the glutinous rice mix and pack it down really firmly with a spoon.
13. This next bit is the killer. So imagine you're still holding your cone and the excess leaf and the top of the cone is a lid. You need to push the lid down really tightly to close the cone and then push the left and right flaps over securely making sure no rice escapes. This is the super fiddley part.
14. Once you've got the lid on, push the excess bamboo leaves around the side of the cone to form a triangle shape, then tie the string around it twice around.
Tip: Prepare the strings by attaching it to your pantry shelves or something else above the spot where you want to tie them up. (this makes the process of tying them up easier.)
15. Boil the wrapped up bundles of zong for approximately 2 hours. They are now ready to be enjoyed!
Alternatively, take them out, allow to cool and now they’re ready to be shared with your friends and family!
Reheating for consumption:
- We prefer to steam the zong as it retains more of the moisture. Steam for about 15-20 minutes or until the zong is hot throughout.
- Serve with some soy sauce and chilli (or any other condiments you like!).
So...how did you go? It's a bit tricky the first time you make it but keep practicing! Don't give up, it's worth the deliciousness.