Dragon Boat Festival: Zongzi Recipe

Dragon Boat Festival: Zongzi Recipe

During Dragon Boat Festival, most Chinese will celebrate by eating delicious zongzi or rice dumplings. Learn how to make them here.

During Dragon Boat Festival, zongzi or rice dumplings are almost always eaten during this period. Learn how to make these delicious treats that your family will definitely enjoy for breakfast or a tea time snack! The recipe may look long and daunting, but don't worry, you can eliminate some ingredients and make it your own.

Makes 20 dumplings


  • 40 large dried bamboo leaves (2 for each zongzi)
  • 20 long strings (for binding leaves)
  • 1 kg (2.2 Ib) long grain sticky rice
  • 2 kg (4.4 Ib) pork belly, sliced into 3 cm (1") cubes
  • 10 salted duck's egg yolks
  • 40 small dried shittake (black) mushrooms
  • 20 dried, shelled chestnuts
  • 10 spring onions, cut up into 1 cm (1/2") lengths
  • 500 g (18 oz) dried radish
  • 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
  • Vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder


  1. Soak rice in water for three hours, drain
  2. Stir-fry pork for a few minutes. Add chestnuts, soy sauce, rice wine, ground pepper, 1 teaspoon of sugar, star anise and five spice powder, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove pork and chestnuts from liquid and set aside.
  3. Boil peanuts until tender (30 minutes to 1 hour).
  4. Soak mushrooms until soft. Clean and trim stalks. Cut into 2 or 3 pieces. Stir-fry with a little liquid from pork stew.
  5. Halve duck egg yolks.
  6. Chop up dried radish finely and stir-fry with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and garlic. Stir-fry spring onions until fragrant. Stir-fry shrimp for a few minutes.
  7. To a large wok or bowl, add rice, peanuts, radish, shrimp, spring onions, a little liquid from the stew mixture and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix well.
  8. Wrap zongzi
  9. Soak bamboo leaves in warm water for 5 minutes to tenderise, before washing thoroughly in cold water.
  10. Wet strings to make them more pliable.

How to wrap zongzi

  1. Take 2 leaves with leaf stem or spine facing out. Overlap them lengthwise in inverse directions (pointed end of one leaf facing the rounded end of the other).
  2. With both hands hold leaves about 2/3rds of the way along their length. At that point bend them so that they are parallel lengthwise and also overlap. This should produce a leaf pouch that you cup firmly in 1 hand.
  3. Add a small amount of rice mixture, compressing with a spoon.
  4. 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.
  5. Fold leaves over the open top of zongzi, then around to side until zongzi is firmly wrapped. Zongzi should be pyramid shaped with sharp edges and pointed ends. Trim off any excess leaf with scissors. Tie up zongzi tightly just like shoes laces with a double knot. Normally they are tied to a bunch of zongzi.
  6. Steam for 1 hour, unwrap and serve.

TIP: If wrapping individual dumplings seem too much work, you can try to make this easier version. Use a casserole tray, layer the rice and ingredients and lay the leaves on top of the tray. I tried this once and although it was not as good as my grandmother's, it was still delicious! Let's face it, no one makes these like grandmothers do.

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Written by

Felicia Chin

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