Makes about 20 zongzis
40 odd pieces of bamboo leaves
strings (to wrap)
2 catty short grain glutinous rice (soaked for 3-4 hours)
1 catty pork (half fatty half lean), blanched and sliced into long strips about half an index finger long
1.5 tael dried mushrooms, soaked in water for one hour, sliced
20 chestnuts, soaked in water and skin thoroughly removed
10 salted egg yolks, halved
20 preserved mussels, rinsed in salted water
6 tael shallots, finely diced
1.5 tael dried shrimp, diced
1. Take a small palmful of diced shallots, stir-fry gently in hot oil on high heat until fragrant. Add pork strips, a dash of rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, five-spice powder, a few star anise and cinnamon stick. Add rock sugar, chestnut and mushrooms. Add half of the water used to soak the mushrooms. Mix until the sugar dissolves and the liquid comes to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the preserved mussels and simmer for another 5 minutes.
2. Fry the remaining diced shallots and dried shrimp in hot oil until fragrant. Carefully add the rice and stir –fry gently. Make sure you have a bowl of hot water on the side ready. Add some water from the mushroom soak and some hot water from the bowl, careful not to add too much at a time. Gently stir-fry until the liquid almost evaporates, then continue adding more liquid, once every three minutes or so until the rice is about 70% cooked.
3. When the rice is almost ready, spoon in the sauce from the pork braise and mix together with rice, stir-frying for another three minutes or so, adding more oyster sauce or salt to taste.
4. Spoon the rice and pork braise out to small bowls, and have the salty egg yolks and bamboo leaves ready. Traditionally we sit next to a doorknob with the strings attached, or, as in my aunt’s case, we reverse a stool and attach the strings to the legs and sit around it. Either way, find something the strings can hang from, and dangle the wrapped zongzis on it.
5. Take two pieces of leaves, rounded head facing each other and overlapped by about a third of their length. Twist the two other ends towards each other so that the middle part forms a funnel shape. Hold the funnel in one hand and put in one layer of rice.
6. Add one piece of pork, chestnut, mussels, egg yolk each, and a few mushrooms. Add more rice to cover until the funnel is filled. Use your hand to gently pat on the rice (preferably wearing plastic gloves so that the rice won’t stick to your hands) to ensure that the dumpling is firmly packed.
7. Cover the funnel with the remaining part of the leaves and fold the ends to one side. Tie firmly with the string.
8. Repeat until all zongzis are wrapped. Steam for about 30 minutes. Serve on its own or with a dash of soy sauce.