This is how to make Taiwanese style zhongzi. This is my grandma’s recipe. Follow these instructions exactly and they’ll taste amazing.
Makes 30 zhongzi
Prep time: 37 hours
Cook time: 1.5 hours
- 60 bamboo leaves
- 5 lbs superior short grain rice (glutinous rice)
- 5 shallots
- 2 cups of small dried shrimp
- 2 lbs pork belly
- 1 lbs lean pork shoulder
- 18 Japanese flower mushrooms
- High quality soy sauce
- High quality thick soy sauce
- String – 3 bundles with 12 strings per “loop”
- One 1″ thick stick – at least 3 feet long
Active time: 4-5 hours
- (Day 1) Soak the bamboo leaves for 24 hours in the sink.
- Create 3 loops of string with 12 ends per loop. Each end should be about 1 foot long and is for 1 zhongzi. The loops go on the stick.
- (Day 2 – First 4 hours) After 24 hours, scrub each leaf’s side in the sink with one stroke using a sponge and soapy water. After washing, rinse the leaves and transfer to a large pan or pot.
- Dip each leaf into boiling water for only a few seconds to soften them up. Do not dip too long otherwise the flavor leeches out. Two are needed per zhongzi. Lay them flat and put something heavy and flat on the whole pile, like a cutting board, or else they’ll curl.
- Soak the mushrooms in a bowl of water and 1 tablespoon of Japanese cooking wine for 2 hours
- Soak the dried shrimp in a bowl of water and 1 tablespoon of Japanese cooking wine for 2 hours
- Peel the shallots and wash them quickly. Mince them into 1 cm x 1 cm pieces. Spread them out and let them air dry for an hour.
- Rinse the pork belly and pork shoulder then pat them dry. Cut the chunks into pieces about the size of a baby carrot as shown in the pictures. Put these chunks into a mixing bowl.
- Note: First cut against the muscle fiber direction when making the larger cut. Then when cutting the pieces into smaller pieces, cut with the muscle fiber direction as shown in the picture.
- Mix in 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and massage them into the pork well. Set aside.
- Test the readiness of the mushrooms by squeezing them. They’re ready when they’re the consistency of a sponge.
- Remove the mushroom stem then cut the stem in half. Set the cap halves aside.
- Drain the shrimp and set aside.
- Store all prepared ingredients for the cooking steps.
- Note: Day 3 steps can be done during Day 2 if you’re motivated enough. If so, start soaking the rice when you start soaking everything else.
Time: 9 hours
- (Day 3) Soak the superior short grain rice (glutinous rice) for 5 hours.
- After soaking is done, rinse the rice until the water is clear. Drain the rice and add in 2 tablespoons of salt and mix it in.
- Fry the shallots on medium heat until they’re brown and start searing. Stir the entire time.
- Add the dried shrimp. Fry for 3 minutes while stirring the entire time.
- Add the mushroom caps and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Fry for 3 minutes while stirring the entire time.
- Remove the entire mixture to a separate container. The pan doesn’t have to be perfectly clean.
- Increase the heat to high then add in the pork chunks. Cook for 5 minutes while stirring the entire time.
- Once the pork is mostly cooked, add in the other cooked ingredients and reduce heat to 3/4 heat. Add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of thick soy sauce. Keep stirring and cooking for 3 minutes until everything is well mixed together.
- Cover and reduce heat to low. Let sit for 7 minutes then remove from heat.
Zhongzi making steps:
Time: 2.5 hours
- As stated before, you’ll need 2 leaves per zhongzi. The top (sun) side of the leaf is the rice-facing side. Snip the leaf ends. Follow the pictures to see how to line them up. Proper alignment is crucial for making them well.
- Add the string loops onto the stick. Place the stick about head height. Sit on a low stool. Put the ingredients on some books or something. Keep your hands dry or at least free from oil. Use chopsticks and a spoon to add stuff.
- Create the leaf pocket by folding it like the picture.
- Add one spoonful of rice and create a divot.
- Add a mushroom half-cap.
- Add a pork belly piece.
- Add a pork shoulder piece.
- Add about 2 teaspoons worth of shrimp/shallot mix.
- Top off those with rice. Fold the leaf over the top.
- When folding, the packing must be kind of tight or else everything will fall out. It should feel like mochi in terms of tightness.
- The leaf over extension part should equal the zhongzi length.
- Make sure to keep your pinky near the fold when using your palm to fold the leave over as a cap. Fold the end of the leaf to the right then tie it up using the string that looped on the stick.
- When tying the zhongzi, grandma recommends an actual knot instead of a quick-release knot. Loop it over twice (open your thumb on the first loop around) and tie it around tight. Make sure to tie over the folded leaf.
Second cooking steps:
Time: 1.5 hours
- Boil a large pot of water.
- Remove the bundles from the stick.
- Add all the bundles into the single pot. Grandma recommends this so that the flavor stays in one pot.
- About 45 minutes in, rotate the bundles so that the top one switches with the bottom one.
- After 1.5 hours. Remove all bundles and add the loops back onto the stick. Make sure that there’s newspaper or something underneath the bundles since they’ll drip.