Monday, June 04, 2007

Zongzi (Zòngzi ) Al Fresco

Yesterday I happened upon these ladies enjoying the mild weather by preparing zongzi (zong4zi) outdoors on Eldridge Street, and they very graciously allowed me to photograph the process. Zòngzi are made of sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves (although outer leaves of corn husks can serve admirably, making a zongzi-tamale hybrid) and filled with sweet red bean paste, or red dates (jujubes), or chestnuts, or, in this case, peanuts (and some folks use meat).

Zongzi are now available all year round, but they are especially suited to this time of year, when we celebrate the Dragon Boat festival in honor of Qū Yuán (Qu1 Yuan2), a poet and activist of the Zhou Dynasty. Zongzi commemorate the rice dumplings thrown into the river by Qu’s supporters after his death by drowning (It is sort of like tashlikh תּשליך. ) The rice is intended to feed the fish, not to feed the poet, as I incorrectly understood when first my valiant students attempted to explain the celebration.

The filling: seasoned raw sticky rice and peanuts
The wrappers: bamboo or other suitable leaves
Take two leaves and form a cone, just as if you were making a paper cone for piping chocolate.
Fill the cone halfway and tamp filling into the tip with a chopstick.
Fill up the rest of the cone and tamp the filling with your thumb.
Fold up the top to close the cone,
and tie it up with a bit of string.
The zongzi will need to be boiled or steamed for about three hours. See recipes here, and here.
See Sweetnicks for other healthy streetside surprises!

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4 Comments:

Blogger Miriam said...

interestign!!!! are the wrappers themselves edible?

4:47 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

miriam,
no, you have to unwrap them to reach the sweet, sticky deliciousness inside.

5:23 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

What a great post! I've never seen anything like this before.

8:55 PM  
Blogger the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

thanks, kalyn!

And you shoulda seen the ones that got away (all the amazing food events when I didn't have a camera)!

10:36 PM  

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