Easy Red Bean Sticky Rice Dumpling | Zongzi 粽子

how to make zongzi
Are you skilled in wrapping gift boxes or tying knots? You may also have what it takes to make these bamboo leave covered sticky rice (glutinous rice) dumplings aka Zongzi 粽子, a beautiful and delicious traditional Chinese treat served around Dragon Boat Festival.

If you haven’t heard, Dragon Boat Festival (aka Duanwu festival ) is a Chinese holiday that occurs on the 5th day of May according to the Lunar calendar. For this year it falls on May 30th.

The story behind this festival is pretty long but to in a nutshell, it involves a patriotic poet Qu Yuan drowning himself after his country was defeated. The nearby villagers threw rice dumplings into the river to prevent fish from attacking the poet while racing in boats to save him.
how to make zongzi
While poet didn’t survive, boat race and rice dumplings have been the tradition to commemorate the life of the poet.

If you’ve had these glutinous rice dumplings before, you’d already know that these rice dumplings come in several different shapes and many different flavors.

Broadly speaking, zongzi is divided into sweet and savory type. The sweet ones were traditionally found in Northern China while the savory ones were more common in Southern China.
how to make zongzi
The recipe I am sharing today is a sweet zongzi with red bean paste which only requires 3 ingredients. If you are looking for a savory and meaty style zongzi, check out this Cantonese style rice dumpling recipe I posted a while ago.

If you are too lazy to read the step-by-step instruction a few paragraphs below. Here is a quick video demo:

Regardless it’s sweet or savory, the basic ingredients and process are pretty much the same. To start, you’ll need bamboo leaves and glutinous rice as well as the filling of your choice, be it sweet or savory. In the case of today’s recipe, the filling will be homemade red bean paste. You can also make the dumplings plain with only rice then served it with sugar sprinkled over.
how to make zongzi
Next, you’ll have to manage stuff the sticky rice, and filling into the leaves and tightly secure with strings. This is not so straightforward to do but with some practice and this step-by-step recipe you will turn into a pro quickly.

Once the rice dumplings are made, just drop them in a pot and boil for 90 minutes or until completely cooked.

Now it comes to the best part of this.

how to make zongzi

Slowly unwrap the leaves to reveal that sticky and gooey rice goodness. Watch the steam shooting into the ceiling while waiting for the rice dumpling to cool. For every child who grew up in China, that’s what Dragon Boat Festival is all about!how to make zongzi
Are you up for the challenge to make these red bean rice dumplings with me?

Easy Red Bean Sticky Rice Dumpling | Zongzi 粽子

Yield: 10 small rice dumplings

Prep Time:45 minutes

Cook Time:90 minutes

Total Time:135 minutes

Celebrate Dragon Boat Festival with this delicious and easy to make red bean sticky rice dumpling aka Zongzi. All you need are 3 ingredients!

Ingredients:

2 dozen dried bamboo leaves1 lb glutinous rice (sticky rice)1 cup red bean paste 

Directions:

In a bowl, let the glutinous rice (sticky rice) soak in cold water overnight. The rice will absorb a good deal of water. Drain the excess before assembling. how to make red bean zongzi recipeSubmerge the bamboo leaves for 30 minutes until soft. Rinse under cold water to remove the dirt. Transfer the bamboo leaves to a large pot of boiling water and let them simmer for at least 10 minutes or until the leaves are green fully rehydrated.how to make red bean zongzi recipe Drain and set aside. how to make red bean zongzi recipeTo assemble the zongzi, take two bamboo leaves pointing in opposite directions and overlap the leaves by 80%.how to make red bean zongzi recipeFold the leaves toward you to form a cone shape.how to make red bean zongzi recipePack 2 tbsp of glutinous rice to the bottom of the cone how to make red bean zongzi recipePlace a tbsp full of red bean paste on top of the rice.how to make red bean zongzi recipeAdd another 2 tbsp of glutinous rice to completely cover the red bean paste. Gently push the top to make sure the surface is flat. how to make red bean zongzi recipeFold over the leaves to cover the top completely.how to make red bean zongzi recipeFold the remaining part of the leaves either to the right or left side. The zongzi should be completely wrapped.how to make red bean zongzi recipeUse a string to bind the zongzi so the leaves don’t unfold. Repeat the same process until you finish either the rice or red bean paste. how to make red bean zongzi recipeBring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the zongzi and let boil over low heat for 90-120 minutes. Remove the leaves and serve while hot. how to make red bean zongzi recipe 

14 comments

  1. 6

    Your zongzi wrapping skill is at pro level, Yi 🙂 I have never tried making these, but I think I really need to start learning how to do this. I can’t bet on having my Mom making these for me forever.

    • 6.1

      Hi Anita, thank you for the kind words. These rice dumplings are actually not as hard as they look. Hope you get to make them soon 🙂

  2. 5

    Oh…I love zongzi…sweet or savory, and you make the zongzi wrapping process so easy? I have never attempted to make these myself…thanks for the tutorial Yi!
    Have a wonderful week ahead 🙂

  3. 4

    We love watching the dragon boat races in Aberdeen and down in Stanley but it is complete chaos! Would rather just enjoy your delicious zongzi in peace! Do you also like the ones with nuts and the savory ones? You did a gorgeous job wrapping! Wishing you a lovely weekend!

    • 4.1

      Thanks. I also prefer sitting back and munching on zongzi instead of joining the dragon boat crowds. And I do love the savory ones with peanuts. They are my go-to zongzi if I have a choice 🙂

  4. 3

    how do you know if you are buying “glutinous “rice…? How is it written in characters?

    Also- can you use dried bamboo leaves if they are soaked? Thanks,
    Meghan

    • 3.1

      Glutinous rice might also be labeled as sweet or sticky rice and can be purchased in smaller 5 lb bags, usually.

      Most of the time, the bamboo leaves are sold dried, hence the rehydration process (same with lotus leaves, which are a lot bigger, but probably sold in the same section of any Asian store).

    • 3.2

      Hi Meghan, as Eugene said, you can get the dried bamboo leaves in Asian supermarket and re-hydrate them per step 2. As for the glutinous rice (sticky rice), they come in 5 lb bags or to some extend larger package. Just look for these two characters – “糯米”. Hope this helps.

  5. 2

    Those are fun little packets of tasty goodness! Really neat recipe — thanks.

  6. 1

    Delicious! Haven’t had one in ages…now I really crave one with my afternoon tea.

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