Zongzi (Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves) 粽子 (zòng zi)
Makes 20 dumplings
40 large dried bamboo leaves (2 for each zongzi) 20 long strings (for binding leaves)
1 kg (2.2 Ib) long grain sticky rice
2 kg (4.4 Ib) pork belly, sliced into 3 cm (1") cubes
10 salted duck's egg yolks
40 small dried shiitake (black) mushrooms
20 dried, shelled chestnuts
10 spring onions, cut up into 1 cm (1/2") lengths
500 g (18 oz) dried radish
100 g (3.5 oz) very small dried shrimp
200 g (7 oz) raw, shelled peanuts (with skins)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine
5 cloves of garlic, roughly crushed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 star anise
1 teaspoon five spice powder
Prepare and cook ingredients
Notes: Chinese groceries should stock most of these ingredients. They will almost certainly have the wrappers and strings in the lead up to the Dragon Boat Festival. Eat zongzi plain or with a sauce of your choice. Wrapped tightly in plastic, zongzi freeze well. To reheat, thaw, and without removing the bamboo leaves, steam (best option), or microwave. Before micro-waving, poke a very small hole in the wrapping and pour in 1/4 of a teaspoon of water to help prevent the zongzi drying out. To test for doneness, plunge a sharp fork into the centre of the zongzi. If the fork is hot, so is your snack.
*People in southern Taiwan prefer to fry the rice after soaking it. They also boil rather than steam zongzi.
"This is a famous traditional banquet dessert. Usually it contains eight kinds of dried candied fruits that represent eight precious stones."
1 ounce lotus seeds
2 cups cold water
2 ounces Chinese red dates
2 cups glutinous rice
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons oil
1 red maraschino cherry, stemless
1 cup any candied fruits
1 cup red bean paste
Add lotus seeds to cold water in saucepan. Bring to boil. Simmer on low heat 20 minutes. Drain and cool. Split into halves. Set aside.
Put red dates in bowl on rack in pot or in steamer. Steam covered over boiling water 30 minutes. Set aside.
Put rice in pot with water level 3/4 inch above rice. Bring to boil. Simmer 20 minutes. Stir in sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Mix well. Set aside.
Grease medium-sized bowl heavily with oil. Place cherry in center. Arrange lotus seeds, red dates, and candied fruits in circles around bottom and up to edge of bowl, glazed side down.
Spread a layer of rice mixture over fruits carefully so as not to spoil the design. Spoon a layer of red bean paste over the rice. Cover with another layer of rice. Pack tight.
Place bowl on rack in pot or in steamer. Cover. Steam over boiling water 1 hour. Remove pudding carefully by running flexible spatula around edge. Put serving plate over bowl and invert bowl.
Serve pudding with Sweet Almond Sauce - Boil 3 tablespoons sugar in 1 cup water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stir in 1 teaspoon almond extract. Thicken with 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water.
Chinese Almond Tea – Traditional Style
Almond tea was one of those fine foods the imperial families in the older days enjoy eating, folklores said. They also said that the imperial concubines loved to eat this for keeping their skin supple and glowing.
Nowadays, almond tea 杏仁茶 is often served as a dessert, a sweet drink. It can be made solely from Chinese sweet almonds (aka south almonds), or with the addition of rice for a creamier texture, the traditional way.
It contains no processed leaves but is called a tea because in some cases, tea also means a drink in Chinese.
Making almond tea, like preparing soy bean milk, is all about soaking the kernels, grinding them with water and finally straining out the juice. In this recipe, we also add rice, sticky rice to be specific. You may also use white rice for a thinner texture or brown rice for a healthier choice.
For further variation, also try the almond milk (without rice) in papaya, a steamed way.
With or without rice, it is still a dairy-free drink, packed with pungent almond flavor.
Skinning Chinese sweet almonds could be as easy as skinning chestnuts. Or, you may also opt for those already skinned. Check it out at stores selling Chinese dried foods or dried herbs. Mind you, ask for sweet almonds (南not bitter almonds (北杏).
100g Chinese sweet almonds (apricot kernels aka south almonds)
40g glutinous (aka sticky) rice
~30g rock sugar, or to taste
To skin almonds, blanch them in boiling water for about a minute and immediately drain the kernels in a colander and rub off their skins with a towel (like this).
Wash sticky rice. Soak it in water for about 3 to 4 hours or according to instructions (wash and soak skinned almonds too, about an hour or two). Discard water.
Pulse rice and almonds with water in a food processor until finely ground, about half to one minute. Line colander with a muslin or fine clean cloth; place the colander over a bowl or pot to catch the liquid, strain juice from the pulp (photos) as much as possible.
Pour the juice into a pot, filling it only half full because the almond milk will turn frothy and may spill. Then cook it over medium to low heat until it reaches a boil, stirring occasionally; you may add some more water for a thinner consistency. Add sugar, and simmer until dissolved.
Serve hot or chilled (I like it hot).
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