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Let's talk zongzi (joong, Chinese Tamales)


Gary Soup
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I had zongzi today. I like the Cantonese version, with plenty of mung beans. I also like to dip it in the sweet soya sauce that the restaurant provides.

My mum used to make zongzi, but my dad complained she didn't put enough mung beans, so she stopped making them. The version she made was what we called zham tao zong (pillow zong) because it is big and pillow-shaped and stuffed with all sorts of goodies like pork, egg yolk, chestnut, shitake, dried scallop and of course, not enough mung beans.

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In a very basic sense Gary is right, that it is a matter of semantics. However the some distinguishing features of joong that help me tell the difference between it and nor mai gai are: joong is wrapped in wide bamboo leaves and "bound" tightly, so when it is boiled, the sticky rice expands and forms an almost solid lump of rice, the rice in nor mai gai is loose; by it's nomenclature, nor mai gai is always savoury and has chicken, joong can be sweet and come without chicken, and the "joong" that most Cantonese, esp. Toyshanese are familiar with are the ones that come in a uniquely quadrahedral shape.

The youngest of Toyshanese children can and will tell you the difference between the two. :raz:

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joong zie = bamboo leaf, no mai gai = lotus leaf. They lend different bouquets to the filling.

Pat

In the North, bamboo leaves are never used for zongzi. It's always reed. Palm or banana leaves are also sometimes used elsewhere. They are all zongzi.

Zongzi are boiled; noh mai gai are steamed. They are apples and oranges.

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Zongzi are boiled; noh mai gai are steamed. They are apples and oranges.

OK, I give up. That won't stop the sticky-rice chicken at my favorite dim sum parlors from reminding me of Jiaxing zongzi with their simple, moist savory filling.

BTW, Beijing "white zongzi" are steamed, yet they're referred to as zongzi.....

Apples and oranges are both fruit.

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Zongzi are boiled; noh mai gai are steamed. They are apples and oranges.

OK, I give up. That won't stop the sticky-rice chicken at my favorite dim sum parlors from reminding me of Jiaxing zongzi with their simple, moist savory filling.

BTW, Beijing "white zongzi" are steamed, yet they're referred to as zongzi.....

Apples and oranges are both fruit.

OK, truce. But this whole debate makes me think of my father, a Taiwanese immigrant to the US who absolutely *must* have his zongzi, which his late mother used to make so supremely well and which are hard to find to his satisfaction where he lives. If you offer him a noh mai gai as a substitute, he just laughs as if you're mad. He never orders noh mai gai at dim sum, yet he falls all over zongzi and will drive miles for a good one.

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Zongzi are boiled; noh mai gai are steamed. They are apples and oranges.

OK, I give up. That won't stop the sticky-rice chicken at my favorite dim sum parlors from reminding me of Jiaxing zongzi with their simple, moist savory filling.

BTW, Beijing "white zongzi" are steamed, yet they're referred to as zongzi.....

Apples and oranges are both fruit.

Giving up so soon, Gary? :raz:

Anyway, Beijing white zongzi are steamed?

Hmm, I'll have to try one next time I'm there.

I'll agree with the comments pointed out by Ben.

I do think that if someone used just sticky rice with its filling and boiled it in leaves for eight hours, I wouldn't like it texturally.

That's why I also like it with zongzi with both kinds of rice, as someone else mentioned.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Zongzi are boiled; noh mai gai are steamed. They are apples and oranges.

OK, I give up. That won't stop the sticky-rice chicken at my favorite dim sum parlors from reminding me of Jiaxing zongzi with their simple, moist savory filling.

BTW, Beijing "white zongzi" are steamed, yet they're referred to as zongzi.....

Apples and oranges are both fruit.

Giving up so soon, Gary? :raz:

Anyway, Beijing white zongzi are steamed?

Hmm, I'll have to try one next time I'm there.

I'll agree with the comments pointed out by Ben.

I do think that if someone used just sticky rice with its filling and boiled it in leaves for eight hours, I wouldn't like it texturally.

That's why I also like it with zongzi with both kinds of rice, as someone else mentioned.

Gary,

What exactly is Beijing white zongzi"?

I DO make a boiled zongzi with just sweet rice...as well as the mixed rice kind.

Neither is boiled for 8 hours! :wacko: I boil mine, about 24 at a time in a large pot for 2.5 hours.

Acouple years ago, my Vietnamese staff forgot and boiled one batch for 4 hours. It was VERY silky. I prefer mine to be smooth but still a little bit of a chewy texture.

I find that I can indulge in one and a half packets of the mixed rice variety, but with just sweet rice, one is plenty

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I remember the zongzi made by my Shandongese grandma was white. And the only filling I remember was the red bean paste. So it was a sweet version, and I ate them by dipping it in more sugar. I don't remember if there was a savory version or not since I only liked the sweet things as a kid. Also, I don't remember if it was boiled or steamed.

I know the Taiwanese versions are definitely boiled and I agree with a previous poster that the hardest part is the bamboo leaves. I had to hand scrub each one of about 160 leaves (both sides!) that we used to make the 80 or so ZongZi a few weeks ago. That's one of the bad things about not being able to cook - you get relegated to doing the the labour intensive work which has little affect on the tastiness of the final product.

-t

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Gary,

What exactly is Beijing white zongzi"?

Tsk, tsk, you didn't check out the link to the cute Flash tutorial on Zongzi from Hong Kong in my original post. You would have learned, like me, that Beijing White Zongzi are just glutinous rice, no stuffing, steamed and served with sugar.

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Gary,

What exactly is Beijing white zongzi"?

Tsk, tsk, you didn't check out the link to the cute Flash tutorial on Zongzi from Hong Kong in my original post. You would have learned, like me, that Beijing White Zongzi are just glutinous rice, no stuffing, steamed and served with sugar.

:wub:

I just started my morning in the LINK...getting a lesson on zongzi

I am always afraid to go to links...they take me deeper and deeper... :laugh:

Thanks for kick starting me this morning!

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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My favorite is Malaysian Nyonya joongs. I guess it's because I've got a sweet tooth, but also I love the aroma of the spices. I can make them but with 3 young children, I'd need a lot of determination. Making joongs are more fun and less laborious if made communal style, together with the chatter and all.

Here's 2 Nyonya joong recipes...#1 and #2. Enjoy!

Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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Like TM, I enjoy nonya joong too, but the one that I make uses less ingredients.

Unlike the savoury joong, these are sometimes wrapped using a species of Pandanus (screwpine), which become more available during this duan wu jie. These leaves grow to lengths of more than a metre, and look absolutely wicked - there are thorns on the edges of the leaves and much work needs to be done to prepare them for wrapping. The leaves are very stiff and need to be boiled to soften them into a state where they can be used to wrap the rice.

However, you're rewarded with very fragrant zoong as the leaves impart the pandan fragrance into the joong after steaming. I normally add a piece of pandan leaf during the wrapping, but the fragrance of this method is a pale shade of using the actual leaf itself.

A traditional approach would also be the use of a blue dye extracted from the flowers of Clitoria ternatea (bunga telang). Some of the glutinous rice is mixed with this dye, and added to the zoong for a splash of colour.

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  • 2 weeks later...

How many joongs can you eat at a go?

Had 5 over the weekend (and these are all glutinous rice ones) ... and I think that might've been one too many :hmmm:. At this rate, I'm going to end up looking like a joong soon :raz: .

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A long time ago, I posted this story on a thread about best meals that one has had.

I am a lifelong hunter and am happiest when I am with my dogs in the woods chasing grouse, woodcock and other game. One day about 20 years ago, I was a bit "turned around" in the woods and frankly became a little concerned and a whole lot annoyed at my predicament, especially after 7-8 hours of rain and sleet. To make a long sorry story short, I eventually wandered back to my truck acouple of hours after dark, where in a ravenous frenzy, I dug out the lunch my mother or wife had packed for me...three gorgeous, plump, greasy, meat filled JOONG!! :biggrin: One for my dog and two for me. If that doesn't rank as the best meal I've ever had, it certainly was the most appreciated. :wink::smile:

Even though it was October, my Mother took the time to make the delicacies as she knew that I love them so.

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I made a batch of joong last weekend, since yesterday was the dragonboat festival :) They contain glutinous rice, mung beans, pork belly, dried shrimp, and dried shiitake, and are wrapped in bamboo leaves. I still haven't quite got the hang of wrapping them properly yet and the rice tend to get mixed with the fillings instead of being around them... It's hard to judge how the rice will swell up after they are cooked. I like to eat joong dipped in a bit of sugar.

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Taiwanese zongzi seem to favor a few tiny dried shrimp or dried reconstituted squid. I find the first a little disgusting and the second superfluous. They also like stir-fried meat instead of soft stewed meat. And the five-spice powder some people like doesn't really seem proper, either. No, the ideal zongzi has glutinous rice 糯米 with a little soy sauce; a piece of fatty pork, stewed until soft; some boiled peanuts or maybe cooked pigeon peas; a dried reconstituted shiitake mushroom; and if you want to get fancy, part of a salted duck egg yolk; and a fresh or dried reconstituted chestnut.

So what did I get? A zongzi with not very glutinous 糯 rice, black rice, mushrooms, and a little square of tofu in the middle, pretending to be pork. A vegetarian told me that fake vegetarian food was for helping non-vegetarians get used to vegetarian food, so meat eaters shouldn't criticize it for not being vegetarian enough. Still, this is ridiculous.

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I will be making my second batch (freezer batch) of joong this weekend. By the time I finish, I should have about 100 joong, a steamed up kitchen, tired hands but happy family and friends!

The following is my family's traditional joong mixture:

-glutineous and jasmin rice, half and half mixture

-dried scallop, Chinese mushrooms, and peanuts, softened in warm water, seasoned then stir-fried with sliced Spanish onion

- lapcheung, each cut into 4 long pieces

- pork butt that I have had in coarse salt for the last 3 days, will rinse then cut into finger size pieces.

I use a traditional Chinese tea cup to measure just the right amount of rice for each packet. I start with one leaf folded into a "cone", add half cup of rice, add a second leave, then lay out my filling on top. This is then covered with the second half cup of rice. A third leave is added, folded to hold everything in, tied with string, then into a container waiting to be boiled for 2.5 hours.

I freeze these in Ziplock bags after they cool off. If I have time, I thaw and boil them for about 10 minutes before eating. Other times, I zap 'em in the microwave.

They survive well in the freezer. good even after a year ( found strays at the bottom of the freezer) :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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My weekend of making joong got delayed by company, so this Saturday is J-Day.

I just finished boiling and washing about 350 bamboo leaves. The pork butte has been salted, rinsed and cut into 4 " finger width pieces,as with the lapcheung. My son brought back a BBQ duck yesterday. The peanuts and dried baby shrimp are soaking. I will make some without pork for my Muslim friend, then the rest will be loaded.

I will have my digital camera handy and plan to take pictures on the wrapping process. This will be especially useful as I want to learn how my Mom makes her special shape.

My young students from China all want to come up for lessons, but there are too many. This way, they can learn from the pictures. If they were honest, they'd just tell me they'd like to be here when joong are cooked and ready to eat! :laugh:

Not sure how I can post pictures on the forum. If anyone can help me with the proceedure, perhaps I can upload acouple, or I may just post them in a series on our swebsite.

Wait for it...

:biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I'm really surprised that people with a cantonese/hk background have never seen the long triangular dark soy sauce versions! I thought they were the most common types :blink: just shows how little I know!

These are the ones we have in Shanghai. I love them, the whole point of zhongzi for me is that lovely rich unctuous melting texture that you can only get from a filling of fatty belly pork!.

Don't like the other versions very much as I find them too dry and I was never really a big fan of the sweet ones either. The ones we dip in sugar in Shanghai tend to be the plain white ones that don't have any fillings.

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I am boiling my third batch of 25 joongzi at the moment. My Mom, daughter and I made 109 joongzi this afternoon. Had some for supper with mustard green soup and lots of tea.

These are three of the first cooked batch with:

BBQ duck, lapcheung, salted pork, peanuts, Spanish onion, dried shrimp, sweet and jasmin rice.

The last 50 packets have all of the above, except BBQ duck. We put in Chinese mushrooms as we ran out of duck :huh:

i9289.jpg

Thanks Jason, for your help in posting the picture, but I don't think the joongzi sample would survive the mail :laugh:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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