my loving mom was wrapping the fillings to zongzi
Zongzi is traditionally eaten during the Duanwu Festival, falling on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month. It has a long history dating back thousands of years. During Duan Wu Festival which has been held annually for more than 2000 years, many traditional customs and activities are practiced on the specified day by the Chinese people. Among these customs are dragon boat racing and eating zongzi.
fillings then wrapped to tetrahedral shape and ready to be boiled
Many legends circulate around the festival including eating zongzi, but the most common explanation given derives from the tale of Qu Yuan, a poet and also a patriot from the Zhou dynasty (1045 BC – 256 BC). During the seven warring states period of Zhou dynasty before Qin Dynastay, Qu Yuan was a minister in the State of Chu and did much to assist the ruler in governing the state. He was however banished from the kingdom by his ruler for treason as he opposed an alliance between the Chu and their rival state of Qin. During the days of his exile, Qu Yuan wrote many famous poems until he ended his life in great despair and distress by drowning in the river upon learning that the State of Chu had been defeated by Qin.
On hearing of Qu Yuan’s death, the local villagers who were extremely fond of Qu Yuan, were in great distress. Fishermen searched for his body by sailing their boats down the river, furiosly beating the drums onboard and other people threw zongzi into the river to keep away fish and evil spirits from destroying Qu Yuan’s body. Later, many people imitated these acts to show their respect for this great patriotic poet and this practice continues today and eating of zongzi is no exception.
Zongzi is made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, then are cooked by steaming or boiling. There is no set fillings as it varies from province to province, though the most commonly used for this steamed delicacy are egg, beans, dates, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, pork, or a combination of all of the above. Wrapping up the zongzi is sometimes a closely guarded family secret.
basic components of Nyonya zongzi: white glutinous rice, blue glutinous rice, and seasoned pork
In Melaka where Baba and Nyonya were orginated from, there is an unique type of zongzi called Nyonya zongzi. This Nyonya version features the intricate flavor depths of typical Nyonya cuisine with a hint of sweet, salty and spicy. Its recipe is also vary from Nyonya’s family to family. Despite the recipe of Nyonya zongzi is closely guarded by family, the most significant character of Melaka’s Nyonya zongzi is the blue colored glutinous rice stuffed inside.
Days before the coming Duan Wu Festival, my mom wrapped up Nyonya zongzi according to my granny’s recipe, due to popular requests from relatives and friends. Among the ingredients used were glutinous rice, seasoned pork, sugared white gourd, chestnut, natural blue coloring from flowers and others. Making of zongzi is not complicated but very time-consuming in preparing the ingredients, including soaking the rice overnight, mincing the pork and season to taste, finely chop sugared white gourd and chestnut, and last but not least, wrapping up all the ingredients with bamboo leaves. It took my mom’s two days with the help of my dad and sisters to prepare about a hundred of zongzi.
final product: delicious Nyonya zongzi
Most of the zongzi made by my mom were given to friends and relatives and I was lucky to have some. Special thanks to my mom, dad and sisters for the hard work and I really loved this yummy Chinese delicacy. Wishing everyone a happy Duanwu Festival.