Thursday, June 5, 2008

Red Bean Paste Rice Dumplings (Hong Dau Gan Sui Joong) 红豆鹵水粽

It's near Duan Wu Jie again...
I first learnt to make Gan Sui Joong when I was 16... and they were hard and stuck to every bit of the bamboo leaves...

Then my mum asked a "professional"... he told us..... "When the dumplings are cooked, leave them in the water for at least 4 hours, then hang to air dry. This way, u'll get soft dumplings."

My MIL asked me why my Gan Sui Joongs were not bouncy..... To make them bouncy... just add Boric Acid/Borax (pang sar), a type of additive for many types of comercially prepared foods and it can also make fishballs bouncy. My mom told me that my maternal grandmother used to put this into all her zongzi and they lasted for weeks w/o referigeration.

Up to u then to put or not to put, but I'd rather sacrifice the bounciness.... Even the "professional" said.. "Aiya, a bit of pang sar won't kill you la, if not, the gan sui joong will not be nice"

I only made Gan Sui Joong with fillings since last year.. requested by dear hubby..

1st attempt-2007.. soaked the red beans overnight.. and I tried steaming them... 3 hours!! Kill me...

2008.... I used my mom's pressure cooker to cook the beans.. 15 minutes of cooking after soaking overnight...but later have to reduce over fire uncovered.. another 20 minutes..but, it's nothing to be compared to steaming for 3 hours!!

So, here's how I did it, step by step

Red Beans Filling
400gm red beans (soaked overnight)
250gm sugar (adjust to ur preference, but have to be sweeter because they will loose some of their sweetness after boiling in the dumpling)
Cook beans either by steaming or boiling until soft. Add in sugar, mix well.

1 kg glutinous rice (soaked overnight, or at least 2 hours)
4 Tbsp Lye water (gan sui)
Mix rice with lye water until rice turns yellowish.

50 pieces of softened bamboo leaves
Enough grass or rafia strands tied with a hanging knot.

AssemblyHang grass strands or rafia strings on a strong hook.
Shape bamboo leave into a cone.

Put in 1 tsp rice.

Put in 2 tsp red bean paste.

Cover with 2 tsp rice.

Wrap up. Make sure rice is not compact with space left for expansion. (method below)Tie with soaked grass strands or rafia string.

Method to wrap up

4 pretty dumplings all tied up on 2 grass strands. Gan Sui Joong are rather small, so, one strand can tie up 2

CookingPut all dumplings into a big pot and cover with water.
Boil for 2 hours and turn off the heat.
Leave dumplings in water for at least 4 hours. This is best done before u sleep, so that u can leave them overnight in the water.
The next day take out dumplings and hang up to air dry for an hour. If the wrapping leaf is too dry, the dumpling will stick to the leaf.

Video on how to wrap (updated 6/6/13)

Zongzi (粽子)


  1. Your tutorial really helped me! How do you connect all the dumplings? Also, what do you connect it to, because the picture of all of the dumplings in the pot looks like there is a stick?

  2. Esther,
    Haha, that is not a stick.
    That's the loop used to hang dumplings.

    Ok, if you can't get hemp/grass strings, use cotton strings. Cut them about 5 feet long. Gather 5 strings and fold them into half. At the place where you fold it, tie a knot, a loop will be formed,and the strings will be held together, 10 strands on each bundle for you to tie the dumplings. Usually I leave a 2 inch space from where I fold it to the knot, so that I can comfortably carry the bundle of dumplings through the loop. You can use the handle of a ladle through the loop to take the hot dumplings out from the pot after cooking.

  3. Hi Wendy,

    Do you smash the red bean after steaming ?


  4. Ling,
    Yeah, I mashed it up a bit only so that the sugar can penetrate through the beans.
    The mashing is also to check whether the beans are thoroughly cooked, as uncooked beans are hard.

  5. Hi,

    Thanks but how many hours did you steam or boil the red bean?

    And also when you cook the dumpling do you use stove or charcoal ?


  6. Ling,
    To cook the red bean, it depends.

    I tried steaming, 3 hours. And that was with overnight soaked beans, not dry beans.
    Boiling, will be about 2 hours. Sometimes I just boil a lot of red beans, take out some of the beans (w/o water) and mix with sugar as filling and leave half the pot boiling further to soften as "tong sui".

    If you use pressure cooker, 20 minutes is enough for soaked beans and 30 minutes for dry beans.

    You can boil with either charcoal or gas. No difference. If boiling the dumplings with pressure cooker, 30 minutes is enough.

  7. Red bean dumpling...This is my favourite..however i never make one..HAHA..what a shame!!
    From, Patricia

  8. Hello Wendy,
    Other savory flavor dumplings need to soak before removing or not?


  9. Oiling,
    No, don't soak the other dumplings.
    Just this.

  10. Stella,
    The instruction on how to cook is at the last paragraph.

  11. Hi Wendy, Thanks so much for sharing. I love your recipes and have tried quite a few of them out. Can I steam this type of chang (like nyonya chang) instead of boiling them? When I was a kid I helped my mom make them. But all mine always disassembled or oozed out rice when they were boiled. A bit scared to try again. Thanks!


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