Sticky Rice Dumplings: How To Make Authentic Zong Zi Ai Home

A step-by-step guide to making sticky rice dumplings with savory pork belly and salted egg yolk filling

In China, the Duan Wu Festival (端午节), or Dragon Boat Festival is not complete without sticky rice dumplings. They are called Zong Zi (粽子) in Chinese, meaning rice wrapped in leaves.

Each June or early July, sticky rice dumplings are everywhere in China. Even Starbucks comes out with their version of Zong Zi. I’ve tried sticky rice dumplings from different stores, and I couldn’t find the ones that taste like Grandma’s. So this year, I decide to make pork Zong Zi at home. 

Want some authentic traditional delights? Follow this pork Zong Zi recipe and tell me what you think!

Pork sticky rice dumplings

What is Zong Zi?

Sticky rice dumpling, also called Zong Zi in Chinese, is a traditional food in China. It is glutinous rice with various fillings, wrapped in bamboo leaves. 

The taste of Zong Zi largely depends on the filling. In China, Zong Zi can be savory or sweet. 

Savory rice dumplings are usually filled with salted egg yolk, pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, BBQ pork, Chinese sausage, or sometimes dried scallops.

Sweet rice dumplings may contain red bean paste and red dates.

Some sticky rice dumplings don’t have any fillings. Instead, they are served with honey for additional flavor.

Ingredients

(for 20 rice dumplings)

ingredients for sticky rice dumplings

Sticky rice dumpling wraps

  • 1 pack of dried bamboo leaves, about 100 pieces 
  • 1 pack of dried straw or cooking twine

Note: 

  1. It takes 2-3 pieces of leaves to make one sticky rice dumpling. 
  2. Cooking twine is easier to work with than straws. 

Sticky rice dumpling fillings

  • 10 salted egg yolk
  • 300 grams of pork belly
  • 0.5 cup dried shiitake mushroom
  • 500 grams of sticky rice
  • 150 gram shelled mung beans
  • Peanuts (optional)

Pork belly marinade

  • 1 tbsp cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Chinese five-spice powder (optional)

Other ingredients

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt, to taste

How to make pork sticky rice dumplings (Zong Zi)?

Preparations

  1. The night before, rinse the bamboo leaves and the straws 3 to 4 times. 
  1. In a large pot, boil the bamboo leaves and straws for 5 minutes. 

This step will ensure the leaves are thoroughly clean, and it helps to soften the leaves.

how to prepare bamboo leaves for sticky rice dumplings -1
  1. The next day, take the leaves out and remove the stems of the leaves.
how to prepare bamboo leaves for sticky rice dumplings -2
  1. In a large pot, soak the leaves and straws overnight. Use a bowl or something heavy to submerge the leaves entirely in water.
  1. Rinse the sticky rice and mung beans 3 to 4 times. Soak in separate bowls overnight or 6 hours, at least. 
  1. Cut the pork belly into thin slices. Put them in a bowl and add cooking wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and pepper. Stir and marinate for 3 hours.
  1. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of water for about an hour until softened. Then remove the stems and cut into small pieces.
  1. Halve the salted egg yolks. We will need half for each sticky rice dumpling.
  1. Drain the sticky rice and mung beans. Add three tablespoons of soy salt and a pinch of salt to the rice. Stir evenly.

How to wrap sticky rice dumplings

Now you have all the ingredients prepped. It’s time to get a bit crafty. Here is a step by step guide on how to wrap the sticky rice dumplings.

How to wrap sticky rice dumplings - a step by step guide to make the authentic zong zi
  1. Take two pieces of bamboo leaves. Layer them together and twist into a cone. Seal the bottom by folding the extra leave firmly.
  2. Place a layer of sticky rice in the bottom of the funnel, followed by a layer of mung beans, a slice of pork belly, half a salted egg yolk, and a piece of rehydrated shiitake mushroom.
  3. Cover the filling with another layer of sticky rice. Make sure you still have half an inch or so of edges.
  4. Fold both sides of the cone to the middle. Press the extra leaves above to cover the fillings, creating a triangle.
  5. Use both fingers to fold extra leaves on the side. Then tighten the dumpling with the straw or cooking twine.

How to cooking sticky rice dumplings

Cooking sticky rice dumplings in a pressure cooker

  1. Put all the wrapped sticky rice dumplings in the pressure cooker. Pour water in the cooker to soak all the sticky rice dumplings. 
  2. Close the lid and make sure the valve is secured. Cook over high heat till the cooker whistles.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and keep boiling for 30 minutes.
  4. Let the sticky rice dumplings simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Open the lid and enjoy!

Cooking sticky rice dumplings in a pot

  • Soak the dumplings in water in the pot. Turn on high heat till the water is boiled. 
  • Switch to medium-low heat and cook for 1.5 hours.
  • Turn off the heat and let them simmer for 2 hours.
Sticky Rice Dumplings With Pork Filling

How to store sticky rice dumplings?

Wait until the sticky rice dumplings cool down to normal temperature. Put them in the freezer, and they can be stored up to a month.

Next time if you want to have one for breakfast, take one out to unfreeze in advance. Then steam it for 15-20 minutes.

Final thoughts

Making rice dumplings takes time and practice. I’ve tried several times before getting the hang of wrapping the Zong Zi. But this family tradition gathers everyone. And that’s what special occasions are all about. 

So if you have a free day to spare, get your family on board and make Zong Zi together. Don’t forget to share the results in the comment!

Yield: 20

Sticky Rice Dumplings With Pork Filling

Zong zi (sticky rice dumplings) with pork belly and salted egg yolk fillings

Authentic Zong Zi (Sticky rice dumplings) with savory pork belly and salted egg yolk filling

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Additional Time 6 hours
Total Time 9 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

Sticky rice dumpling wraps

  • Dried bamboo leaves, 1 pack
  • Dried straw or cooking twine

Filling

  • 10 salted egg yolks
  • 300 grams of pork belly
  • 0.5 cup dried shiitake mushroom
  • 500 grams of sticky rice
  • 150 gram shelled mung beans

Pork belly marinade

  • 1 tbsp cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • Chinese five-spice powder (Optional) 

Sticky rice marinade

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

Preparation

  1. Rinse the bamboo leaves and the straws 3 to 4 times. 
  2. Boil the bamboo leaves and straws in a large pot for 5 minutes. Remove the stems of the leaves and soak overnight.
  3. Rinse the sticky rice and mung beans 3 to 4 times. Soak in separate bowls overnight or 6 hours.
  4. Slice pork belly thinly. Add the marinade ingredients and marinate for 3 hours.
  5. Soak dried shiitake mushrooms until softened. Remove the stems and chop into small pieces.
  6. Halve the salted egg yolks.
  7. Drain the sticky rice and mung beans. Add the sticky rice marinade ingredients. Stir evenly.

Wrapping the sticky rice dumplings

  1. Take two pieces of bamboo leaves. Layer them together and twist into a cone. Seal the bottom by folding the extra leave firmly.
  2. Place a layer of sticky rice in the bottom of the funnel, followed by a layer of mung beans, a slice of pork belly, half a salted egg yolk, and a piece of rehydrated shiitake mushroom.
  3. Cover the filling with another layer of sticky rice. Make sure you still have half an inch or so of edges.
  4. Fold both sides of the cone to the middle. Press the extra leaves above to cover the fillings, creating a triangle.
  5. Use both fingers to fold extra leaves on the side. Then tighten the dumpling with the straw or cooking twine.


Cooking sticky rice dumplings

  1. Put all the wrapped sticky rice dumplings in the pressure cooker. Pour water in the cooker to soak all the sticky rice dumplings. 
  2. Close the lid and make sure the valve is secured. Cook over high heat till the cooker whistles.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium-low and keep boiling for 30 minutes.
  4. Let the sticky rice dumplings simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Open the lid and enjoy!

Notes

If you are cooking with a wok or a pot:

  1. Soak the dumplings in water in the pot. Turn on high heat till the water is boiled. 
  2. Switch to medium-low heat and cook for 1.5 hours.
  3. Turn off the heat and let them simmer for 2 hours.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

20

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 112Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 22mgSodium: 290mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 6g

Read also: 16 Creative Rice Recipes That Are More Than Fried Rice

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