Making zongzi for Dragon Boat Festival

This year, Dragon Boat Festival fell on Sunday, June 8. On Saturday, Mommy and I made zongzi. It’s been a few years since my mom made zongzi, and I missed eating her homemade zongzi so much. This year is the first time I’m helping her to make them.


Glutinous rice, pork stuffing, and salted egg yolks.

Making zongzi is a tedious, day-long affair. Starting with the preparation of the ingredients: Blanch and drain dried bamboo leaves. Rehydrate the dried mushrooms and chestnuts, cut them up. Blanch the pork, cut finely. Finely chop candied winter melon, shallots and garlic. Wash and drain the glutinous rice. Separate salted egg yolks from whites. Fry shallots, garlic, winter melon, mushrooms, pork, and chestnuts. Season with soy sauce, salt, sugar, pepper, ground coriander.

Phew! Now, we can finally wrap the zongzi into their characteristic tetrahedrons! All the wrapping was done by Mom.

I tried to help. Mom warned me, “It’s not easy.” “Teach me! How hard can this be? I’m a fast learner!” True enough, even after a few tries, my zongzi fell apart! Argh! Not wanting to waste the ingredients, I left the task to Mom.

Wrapping zongzi is a lot harder than it looks! This is really an art that takes years of practice to master.

Fold bamboo leaf into cone.

Fold bamboo leaf into cone.

Here’s my mom making the zongzi. She starts by folding a bamboo leaf (two if they’re too small) into a cone.

Fill the base with rice, then meat.

Fill the base with rice, then meat and egg yolk.

She fills the base with some rice, followed by pork stuffing and a salted egg yolk.

Cover the filling with more rice.

Cover the filling with more rice.

Then, she covers the stuffing with more rice, and folds down the leaves to shape the whole parcel into a pyramid.

Tie the dumpling tightly with hemp.

Tie the dumpling tightly with hemp.

Finally, she ties up the zongzi securely with hemp.

Ready to be cooked!

Ready to be cooked!

The zongzi are tied in bunches of about 10, then boiled in a large pot over low heat for nearly two hours.

Yummy homemade zongzi!

Yummy homemade zongzi!

Mommy’s zongzi is Nyonya-influenced — the pork is finely cut, and tastes more sweet than salty. However, the addition of mushrooms, chestnuts, and egg yolk are borrowed from the Hokkien style. It’s like combining the best of both worlds! She’s also more liberal with the fragrant ground coriander. Although zongzi are commercially available all year round, nothing beats homemade zongzi because we can customize the taste to our preference!



  1. says

    I haven’t had a homemade one for years! And probably won’t in my lifetime now. Sad… My grandma’s Hokkien style and my favourite comes stuffed with chunks of fatty pork, chestnuts and mushrooms! We never had egg yolks in ours though. When I was younger, my friend’s grandma made some and hers had peanuts and egg yolks in addition to the usual ingredients. She said that is Cantonese style. I was into the sweet Nyonya style for when I was about 13 – 14 and then I reverted back to fatty meat. Your mum’s clever to combine the best of both worlds!

  2. says

    hey, my mum does here a bit to the nyonya style as well. but she does not put in the egg yoke. She adds in some dark soy sauce into the rice, a tiny bit, so when the bakchang’s done, it is a bit dark, the way her kids like it 🙂
    try again, wrapping it is not hard. once you get it, the rest’s easy peasy. mum makes by the hundreds at a go, and freezes the rest, so we get to eat them anytime of the year.

  3. ywling98 says

    wow.. another food i long to eat right now hehhe…here in melbourne i seen those made by the vietnamese and it doesn’t look nor taste nice ..