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Friday, May 25, 2012

Guangxi Rice Dumplings (zongzi) 广西粽子 - Wrapped # 3

As you all may know, my mom is a KwongSai (Guangxi).

My first endeavour making rice dumplings was when I was about 15. I was very excited and this was my first time doing so. No one in the house made rice dumplings ever since grandaunt last did it. No one knew how to do it actually, or would bother to do it because it is considered something very troublesome.
Dumpling for 2..... or More, LOL

My mom roughly told me how to do it, trying to recall how her mom (my maternal granny) did it. My mom never picked up the ropes from her parents and only learnt to cook in her late 30's. My mom knew how to wrap (the normal tetrahedron ones), but didn't know how to prepare the ingredients, especially how to season. So, with the blind leading the blind... imagine what happened to the dumplings. The pork was nicely marinated (I fried one piece to taste!), but the rice and beans were..................... horribly tasteless. I literally cried when I ate one dumpling after being boiled for 4 hours. And we made so much! 40 pcs! Oh my! I can't imagine myself stuffing them down my throat.

pork all through the long dumpling

Luckily, my mom's sister came visiting right after the dumplings were done.  LOL. Just in time! My mom shoved 30 pcs to her, asking her to go back and pass to the other brothers (my uncles). My aunt was ok with it. Because my mother said, grandma's dumplings had tasteless beans too. So, they will eat it alright. I grew up eating well seasoned beans in dumplings. So, I find that hard to swallow.

I don't know about dumplings in other places, but even those in Kuala Kangsar here, the local women made rice dumplings of which... I don't favour much. The beans are bland too, even though the dumpling looks dark and flavourful, but to me... nah. Still prefer Ipoh and Kampar's. My friends' moms who made dumplings all taste delicious. Or maybe it's the matter of me being accustomed to the taste.

2nd piece being sliced

Ok, back to guangxi zongzi.

I never knew there is guangxi style zongzi. Never! Until last 2 years.
I heard my cousin saying my kaofoo (brother of mother) gave them 2 dumplings, took one day to finish one. My eyes went big? What? Why so slow to eat one dumpling?

Then she told me, it's as long as my forearm, how to eat in one go? My eyes went BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGG! What? That long? There are such long dumplings?

Then my cousin said, yeah, it has always been this long, slice it to eat it. Like Lemang.

final few pieces... still with pork :)

My mom then said, yeah, their family does the zongzi in that manner. And only the men can do it, because they have large hands. At that time, I just felt like "uuuurrrgh!!!" Mom, why you never told us about the traditions in your family??????? And I was already more than 30 when I knew this. 30 years of ignorance!

Can't blame my mom. My mom always think that, she's married to a Cantonese, and so, she should raise her kids as Cantonese. Sigh..... Which is why she refuse to teach us the Guangxi dialect.
But now, her thoughts have changed and she wants me to pick up her family dishes. When the better cooks in her family has passed away... that is when she realised, that the special dishes are also gone with them.

Mom can only roughly describe to me how grandma did it, "Borax, alkaline water, raw black eye peas, 5 spice pork with rind," That's all I could dig from her. Mom said, Grandma would make a few kerosene cans of dumplings and hang them up on the wall to be consumed for a week (yes a week w/o referigeration, the power of Borax!!). 10 kids could easily finish them up. If one is hungry, just pull one dumpling down and eat, for that whole week. Mom said, grandma won't cook until the dumplings are gone.

With that limited information, I had to rely on Mr Google. Then I found this site and then Baidu confirmed that one of guangxi dumplings distinct characteristic is the smell of alkaline/ lye water, like how my mom said grandma did put lye water in it. I was happy that I could finally start working on recreating the guangxi dumpling in my kitchen.

Guangxi Rice Dumpling
Recipe source: Wendyinkk
Reference : Guangxi Baike and my mom

Pork Belly
1kg pork belly (skin on)
2 tsp salt (10g)
4 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp dark caramel sauce (can use more)
1 Tbsp 5 spice powder (bought from chinese herbal shops which are coarser and more fragrant)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp shao xing wine
Good dash of white pepper

1. Cut pork into 16 strips (5 or 6 inch long)
2. Marinate with all the ingredients for 2 days.

300gm black eye peas
300gm red beans (azuki)
*or any combination of other beans
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp alkaline water

1. Soak overnight and drain for 30 minutes.
2. Mix with salt, sugar and alkaline water.
3. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients

2kg glutinous rice
4 cubes of fermented white beancurd (fu yue, I used the round bottle type)
2 Tbsp shao xing wine
1.5 Tbsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp alkaline/lye water
1/2 cup oil (lightly sautéed with 3 shallots and 3 clove garlic, both finely minced)

1. Soak rice overnight. Drain the rice into a colander and let it drip dry for 30 mins.
2. Heat wok and put in oil. Saute minced garlic and shallots until fragrant and lightly golden.
3. Turn off the heat and put in fermented beancurd, salt, sugar and shaoxing wine. Mix until a paste forms.
4. Put in drained rice. Toss to combine (You can turn on the heat as you do this. It will make the rice more manageable, but not to cook it) Taste the rice and spit it out. It should taste slightly oversalted. Lastly add in alkaline water and mix well.

1 pack dried bamboo leaves (300gm 11cm wide)
16 strips of 5.5 ft long reed or cotton twines. (I used the reed, "Harm Sui Chou 咸水草" that came with the leaves in the packing)

1. Soak the leaves and reed in tap water until soft (few hours).
2. Wash and trim the hard ends off.
3. Blanch in boiling water for a while and it’s ready for use.

Just a rough guidance on how to wrap. Different families may use different method. It may seem hard at first, but as you go on, you will get the hang of it. FYI, this is my first time wrapping zongzi this way. My maternal uncles employ a different method, that they hold everything in the palm as they do it. I used a measuring cup to measure the rice so that each dumpling will have the same amount of rice. I was packing the rice tight in some, and not so tight in some and ended up with 17 dumplings. If packed tight (in measuring cup) for every dumpling, should yield 16.

bring to a boil, lower to a simmer for 4 hours, switching the dumplings halfway.

Don't worry too much about how it looks, see my first dumpling and my later ones....

How long is one dumpling? Mine are on average 8.5inches.

If only these are filled with gold and not rice.. LOL

Oh yes, If you might be wondering whether my beans were bland,
Oh no they are not.
I won't eat if they are bland. Yucks!
My hubby still prefers the bak chang.

I still haven't send some of these to my mom.
Still have 6 in my freezer. She's waiting for these.

Video (updated 6/6/13)

I'll be taking a break.
See you somewhere in June.
Happy School Semester Break!

Zongzi (粽子)


  1. first time i see so long rice mum good in making ba chang...very nice one...

  2. Pei San,
    It's considered short, compared to my uncle's.

  3. i think this year i must learn from my aunty...every year she help us to wrap ba chang,my mother prepare the filling.

  4. everytime I think you are impressive, you always go over and wow me more with each new post!

    the details and pics are superb and clear so every step by step is awesome.... am so gonna try to make this.... my hubby is big fan of all dumplings...

  5. My mom used to wrap this type of "Pillow" dumpling. I think she feels this wrapping is easy than the other type, I guess. I am not good in either way this is why I have never do it before. I should learn or else have to buy which is too costly per piece! hee.. :-)

  6. Hody,
    it's a technique that you won't forget. Learn it :)
    just like driving car or riding bicycle

    Food Dreams,
    thanks and I hope ur hubby will like this.
    The taste is not the same as bak chang.

    oh yes, this method is definitely easier.
    Pillow dumpling is just a tehcnique, and the filling is guangxi style.
    There are a lot of Hakkas in Guangxi, so hence, both dialects employ the same method to wrap.

  7. hey Wendy! I like the wrap is so beautifully done, not easy ya :)

  8. Aiyo, Wendy, this one so much work involved. Lazy people like me tak boleh.....But you can donate to me anytime :)

  9. love to see this chang recipe. Hope you can share on 'gan shui chong' recipe. It is my favourat to go with kaya. I would love to learn how to make.

  10. Making this is just too technical for Aunty Lucy. I believe she rather buy or wait for some friends who are good at it to give her one or two. HINT! HINT! LOL! Have a nice break and enjoy your time with your hubby and kiddies. Hugs from LA.

  11. Only if my mom could spare me some of her time to teach me her bak zhang. Sigh!

  12. Garu video on how to tie ka?

  13. Ah Tze,
    not too hard actually

    Phong Hong,
    hahaha, quota habis oredi

    there's one gan sui joong recipe but filled with red beans in my blog. just leave it kosong.

    In LA then eat burgers la, dun think of rice dumpling anymore lor, hahahah!

    Yes, U'll be in time to make that during this trip.

    Small Kucing,
    No woh. Just tie it like a parcel.
    There's no exact rules on how to tie, but I tied it in 3 places. Some people just wrap the string around. No exact rules.

  14. What a HUGE dumpling~ My first time seeing these.

    I'm not adventurous when come to dumplings, still prefer the good old bak chang :)

  15. Like your post here. My mom is Hakka and very good making ba old already stopped few years cos very 'doh kung'. Mon am going to Ipoh, reserve one for me kidding

  16. It's a good thing to learn to cook traditional food. You not only do it but also share with everyone in blogsphere! That's very admirable! I know of some who won't share traditional recipes. I have never eaten such a long dumpling, only bak chang or now, nonya chang! Btw, your step-by-step pics are fantastic!

  17. This is such a big dumpling. It look pretty similar to the 'pillow dumpling' sold here but not a fan of their dumpling. Tasteless. I still prefer our Malaysian style dumplings. Thanks for the step by step pictures. Let see if I am able to do it since I have no clue how to do the pyramid shape one.

  18. i havent seen a rectangular dumpling before :) this looks really interesting and yummy inside!


  19. I hv my mother in law to thank for showing me the ropes literally lol! after that I have to make like 5kg of rice every year to give to her so she can give to her daughters! dang! until one day I had enough and said I don't want to do it anymore! I should have learnt this type of dumplings less to wrap lol! Looks delicious too.

  20. i've never had one like this..with red beans and smell like alkaline..the ones in ipoh are quite common..either with black eyed peas or green beans and white or fried ones. I must really learn how to wrap bak chang, the one that you show here looks not so complicated compared to the traditional ones. One time i did the triangle ones, almost all bocor!

  21. yvonne,
    I'm totally the opposite.
    I do anything, try anything, LOL

    Ur mom stopped, u take over the helm la ;)

    This dumpling, if I don't share, most probably will go extinct in Malaysia.

    this form of wrapping is indeed called pillow dumpling. But it's the type of filling inside that is guangxi style.

    Fish oh fishiee,

    LOL, macam kena "yum".
    It's like that one la, they hope that the one who is interested in cooking will pick up the ropes and continue on the legacy.
    My MIL also hoped that I could pick up from my hubby's late grandma, why won't she herself?
    It's because she's not interested and she knows I am.

    Actually any beans or even peanuts. I just wanted to try with red beans mixed with black eyed peas. This one is wrap like parcel only, easy peasy la.
    Next time, come over for a session of chang wrapping. I can show u. If I could teach 50 teen students, I don't understand why i can't get u to make it successfully.

  22. Love this interesting post. Your first zhongzi making experience, could definitely relate to it, happened to me too, ever heard about using soy sauce for dipping?? That was how bland mine was, heartbreaking experience...the bit on the length of the zhongzi was hilarious too! So nice of you to put in so much details in every step, so much better than many of the recipe books out there!

  23. Wow, Wendy, these rice dumplings are huge & long, hahaha! I'm not aware that this is called "Guang Xi" Zhang & I've been calling it as "pillow" zhang for years becoz my mother-in-law's zhang are also wrapped like this & she is a Hainanese! Her version is like 6', not as long as yours.

  24. Lite home Bake,
    I guess mistakes makes us learn and be wiser, hehehe.
    Mine was same like you , needed soy sauce, oh my!
    Thanks for the compliments.

    Pillow dumpling is just a method of wrapping.
    Just like the common tetrahedron method of wrapping does not belong to any dialect.
    It's what that is inside that makes it guangxi.
    Just like how one would differentiate Cantonese zongzi and the hakka and hokkien's version that is dark, the wrapping is the same

  25. Looks good. Do you take orders for this? Would love to try a FEW! :D

  26. Now this is interesting. My family makes zongzi the normal way (triangular) but strangely, we also make them with beans, usually red beans. It's not very common I think cos I seldom find zongzi with beans outside.

  27. Open Kitchen Concept,
    Here, most zongzi are made with beans.
    If you go through all my zongzi recipe, all except Hakka Dough dumplings do consists of beans, so does those sold outside.

  28. Looks good Wendy... I've never tried one of these guangxi dumplings ever.

    My mom (a Peranakan), taught me Nyonya and kim bak chang.

    I made a batch of kiam bak chang last weekend :D

    She also told me to oversalt and cook the pork before hand so that the taste will be absorbed by the rice and the dumpling remains compact (no space made due to shrinkage of pork after cooking).

    And also to salt the boiling water liberally (about 1.5tbsp of salt per litre of boiling water). Perhaps that may help with the tasteless rice/beans?

  29. Leo,
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    The tasteless dumplings were almost 20 years ago. That was when I was talking about my 1st dumpling encounter.
    I hope u read the whole post right up to the last sentence.

  30. My mouth IMMEDIATELY began watering as soon as I saw that photo.

  31. My Gosh those are incredibly big dumplings! I miss my grandma's dumplings but alas bit back in hometown. So I shall attempt to make them myself.

  32. We tried making these with friends on the weekend and had a lot of fun. The pork filling tastes delicious. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  33. nice... i will try this one...i even saw the one with richer ingredients like waterchesnut, salted yellow egg and shitake mushroom. whatever, this dumpling is always be my obsession to cook. thanks for the recipe..


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