Rice Dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival

I like traditional food. Yesterday I’ve made some rice dumplings which are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival (celebrated on the 5th of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, which is on 6th Jun this year).

There is story about the rice dumplings that their origin was to prevent fish eating the poet Qu Yuan’s body, who drown himself in river for failing to prevent his king against the expansionism by the other State during the Warring States Period.

Anyway, I think rice dumpling is decent, beautiful and delicious as food itself. There are different recipes and wrapping methods in different places of China, as well as both savory and sweet versions. Below is a simple and delicious savory recipe that I like.

Rice Dumpling (Zongzi) (makes 20 small / 10 large dumplings)


Glutinous rice 500g

Split mung beans (i.e. green beans) 250g

Pork belly 250g

Duck egg yolks 10pcs, cut in half for small dumplings

Dried bamboo leaves – 20 large pcs or 40 small pcs

Hay straw 10 pcs or 20 pcs (1 for each dumpling)

Marinate for pork belly: 1 tp salt, 1/2 tp five-spice powder

Marinate for glutinous rice: 2 tps salt, 2 tbps peanut oil

Marinate for mung beans: 1 tp salt


1. Soak glutinous rice in water for 4 hours. Drain and mix with the salt and oil

2. Soak mung beans in water for 2 hours. Drain and mix with the salt

3. Cut the pork belly into 20pcs. Marinate with salt and five-spice powder for 2 hours

4. Soak to soften the dried bamboo leaves in hot water for few minutes

5. Wrap the dumplings as below video.

For large dumplings, put 2 tbps glutinous rice, 1 tbp mung beans, 2 pcs pork belly, 1 whole duck egg yolk, and further 2 tbps rice and 1 tbp beans, then wrap up.

For small dumplings, put 1 tbp glutinous rice, 1/2 tbp mung beans, 1 pc pork belly, 1/2 whole duck egg yolk, and further 1 tbp rice and 1/2 tbp beans, then wrap up.

6. To cook the dumplings, covered and boil the large dumplings in hot water for 3 hours, and small dumplings for 2 hours. The water would be absorbed by the glutinous rice quickly, hence will need to add additional hot water to the pot every 20-30 mins.

7. Serve hot with soy sauce or sugar! Yum!

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