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  • Dumplings are humble and homey. They make people smile. I have loved them since childhood, and this site focuses on cooking and finding the tastiest morsels. It's also the companion to my cookbook, Asian Dumplings.

    Andrea Nguyen
    Author & Teacher

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05/26/2009

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Comments

Elise

Never heard of these! Question. Both corn husks and banana leaves, traditionally used for Mexican tamales, impart a distinct flavor to the filling. Can the same be said for the bamboo leaves and zòngzi?

wayne wong

Just saw PBS TV show "Diary of a Foodie" (unsure if that's correct series title but it's close---Gourmet Magazine's involved) and one segment of today's show dealt with Zongi. Without knowing better, I could've sworn it was scripted upon your article---it explained the mythical origin of Zongi, followed by an acknowledged expert showing a young couple step-by-step how to add "a bit of lean filling" then "some fatty filling", etc., then how to fold and tie the delicacies (both laughing at how "ugly" the wraps of the other were ... Looked like a good(and delicious) time was had by all.

Andrea Nguyen

Elise, you're absolutely right on the mark! The bamboo leaf does impart a mild grassy note to the rice. Texturally, they are firmer than tamales because the leaves have to be wrapped very tightly, lest the rice leaks. Karen and Fanny reported that some of the ones we three girls wrapped leaked during the 4-hour boiling. With steaming tamales, the cooking is a lot less violent and some leaking is forgivable.

Wayne, thanks for pointing out Gourmet's covering zongzi in their PBS series. Ruth Reichl is very keen on Chinese food traditions. I'm flattered that my content here mirrors theirs.

Nancie McDermott

Fantastic to have this "animation" on the process. Won't make it this year, but next year, I'm in. My husband adores these and so do I. Taiwanese word is "JUN-zuh", and he gets all misty reminiscing about how many he could eat in one sitting. That boy can chow down some zongzi. I love and admire that you have Chinese characters and transliterations here. That would be harder for me than making zongzi that survive the boil-off. Not that I can read them, but there it is for reference; what a boon to looking for studying on the subject. Here in Chapel Hill we can find them at Eastern Market, small and wonderful Taiwanese-owned Asian market; she has them in the freezer, so we can keep them on hand and microwave for Good Fast Food. From NYC sources I believe. "Solar Maximus Festival", eh? Sounds like a body-building competition --- Dragon Boat has more charm.

Andrea Nguyen

Nancie -- Well, now you HAVE to make them next year. It's one of the most important Chinese holidays. A Chinese high holy day -- seems like an oxymoron, huh? That's cool that the Easter Market has zongzi, which I tend to pronounce like your husband, with zh/j sound, so I often misspell it in pinyin. My character-spelling ability is practically nil these days.

There's bound to be a Thai version of zongzi, don't you think?

OysterCulture

I just stumbled across your site after reading your comment on FoodGal's site. I want to thank you - what a gift of information you provide. Thanks for sharing!

Carolyn Jung

I confess I've never made them, either. But I love zongzi, or joong as I know them as. Homemade definitely is best. That way you get to pick the fillings precisely to your taste. My aunt used to make batches when she was younger. It was always a treat to get a supply from her.

Andrea Nguyen

Thanks OysterCulture! This is a new site and I'm really loving doing the posts.

Carolyn, what do you like in the filling? Or, what does your auntie do?

Peter Tsai

Great tutorial - I like the English \ Spanish translation of "Chinese tamales" - we usually call them bamboo rice.

I like the kind with peanuts, mushrooms, and braised pork - i think it's harder to find those in the States.

Thanks for posting.

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