Taiwanese cuisine : 粽子

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Today, we are going to Asia with a traditional meal from one of my friends : 李書涵.

It’s a recipe usually prepared for the Dragon-Boat Festival, also very popular in China.
This treat is pretty time consuming so make it an afternoon family activity!

Bah-Tzang = Rice dumplings cooked in bamboo leaves
The one we are making today is Zing zi.

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Ingredients (makes 20 Zòng zi)

40 large dried bamboo leaves (2 for each Zòng zi )
20 long strings (for binding the leaves)
1 kg (2.2 Ib) long grain sticky rice
40 small dried shiitake (black) mushrooms
100 g (3.5 oz) very small dried shrimp
200 g (7 oz) raw, shelled peanuts (with skins)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
1 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
Vegetable oil
Red rice yeast
2 kg (4.4 Ib) pork belly, sliced into 3 cm cubes
250 g (0.55 Ib) Chinese shallot

* If you feel like it (or can find it) you may also add:
10 salted duck’s egg yolks
20 dried, shelled chestnuts
500 g (18 oz) dried radish

Start by soaking the rice in water for three hours. Drain.

Stir-fry the pork for a few minutes. Add the chestnuts, soy sauce, rice wine, ground pepper and 1 teaspoon of sugar, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 1 hour. Remove the pork and chestnuts from the liquid and set aside.

Boil the peanuts in fresh water until tender (30 minutes to 1 hour).

Soak the mushrooms until soft. Clean and trim stalks. Cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Stir-fry with a little liquid from pork stew.

Halve the duck egg yolks.

Stir-fry Chinese shallot until fragrant.
Stir-fry shrimp for a few minutes.

To a large wok or bowl, add rice, peanuts, shrimp, Chinese shallot, a little liquid from the stew mixture and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix well.

1937973_602047583208070_675423414_nAll your ingredients are now ready to be put together!

Here comes the next step: How to wrap Zòng zi?

First you will need to soak the bamboo leaves in warm water for 5 minutes to soften, then wash thoroughly in cold water. While you are at it, soak the strings too in order to make them easier to shape.

Take 2 leaves with the stem or spine facing away from you. Overlap them lengthwise in opposite directions (pointed end of one leaf next to the rounded end of the other).

For this step, both hands need to hold about 2/3rds of the leaves lengthwise. Fold them in half and pinch them together in order to obtain a pocket that you can fill.

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Add a small amount of rice mixture, compressing with a spoon.
Add 1 piece each of pork, chestnut, mushroom, duck egg yoke.
Add more rice until you have nearly a full pouch. Compress firmly with a spoon.

You can now close it.
Fold leaves over the open top of the Zòng zi, and pull the leaves towards the side to firmly wrap it. The “pocket” should have a pyramid shape with sharp edges and pointy ends. Trim off any excess leaf with some scissors.

Tie up the Zòng zi tightly just like shoes laces with a double knot.

Steam for 1 hour, unwrap and serve.

Have fun and good luck!

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