|The picture shows only 10% of the whole batch!|
Hello to you! Do you recognise this? Most asians probably would. If you haven't, these are called "zongzhi" and it is eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival on May/June of the Chinese lunar calendar. In my family, we like to make it prior to Chinese New Year for some unknown reason, I don't know. I like to think of the reason that because the whole zongzhi is tightly wrapped together it symbolises a tightly knit family.
It is my dad who makes them; he learnt it from his mum, my grandmother who I have never met. He has made these zongzhi so many times and to him, making it is a breeze. Does it look easy to make? To me, it looks complicated and it is. It takes many practices and probably years for some people to master wrapping the zongzhi neatly. I attempted wrapping it before and no doubt it was an epic fail. All I've to do is to keep trying each year- after all practice does make perfect!
I grew up eating them every year around this time and I have gotten very used to that. I love the warmth and the aromatic smell of zongzhi waft through the house whilst it's cooking through the night. (It takes 12 hours for the batch to cook altogether at the same time.) In the cold morning I wake up early, go downstairs and take in the smell of the zongzhi and enjoy the warmth. I would hate to think that one day, my dad won't be able to make it because of his age. It is like not being able to eat your favorite childhood food again because the man who made it doesn't exist anymore or not being able to re-visit your house where you have lived in throughout your childhood years because it has been burnt down. I can attempt to recreate it myself but it won't be the same.
Making it is really tiring. The bamboo leaves needs to be washed, the pork needs marinating, the mung beans need to be boiled and crushed, the rice needs to be soaked, wrapping it must be tight... When my dad makes it, he makes a massive batch. Like spring rolls, we make a lot otherwise it would not be worth our time and effort. We store around half in the freezer to eat later and we give some to our neighbours and eat the rest. I love eating it fresh, the rice, the meat, the beans just melt in your mouth... After a day or so, it doesn't taste as good in my opinion- I would shallow fry it in oil on both sides until crispy.
There are different types of zhongzhi but I have only tried 2 types. One is my dad's one, the northern style version due to the cylinder/rectangular shape and another called jianshui zong (碱水粽), the southern style version due to the triangular shape. I love this one the best and then jianshui zong. Jianshui jong is trangular and the colour of the glutinous rice is yellow due to the usage of alkaline water- it tastes great with honey. You might see them if you visit traditional Chinese markets and it is pretty costly because of all the time, effort, cost of ingredients added up together. Nevertheless, give it a go because if not, you'll never know what it tastes like!
Happy Chinese New Years Eve you all. :) I hope you have a good one. If you don't know what to do on CNY yet, you could head over to your nearest Chinatown; it will be bustling with excitement!
Have you cleaned up the house and washed yourselves fully just in time for Chinese New Year?
(To clean away the old and welcome the new.)