Last night I learnt how to make the Chinese traditional 粽子 and learnt a little bit about the background to the Dragon Boat Festival during which it is eaten. ( I posted a photo below)
There is a story behind this sticky rice dumpling, and here it is:
Thousands of years ago there was a man named QuYuan. He was a very patriotic young man and a well-doer. For these reason, he gained the respect of all around him.
His country was fighting with another country, and lost! This caused his fellow countrymen to become homeless, which upset QuYuan deeply. Although QuYuan had a solution to this situation, the country government wouldn’t hear of it. Thus QuYuan was full of guilt and remorse at not being able to help his fellow countrymen and tied himself to a rock before throwing himself into a lake and killing himself.
The people heard of this story and ran to the lakeside to try and find his body, but having tied himself to the rock, his body sank and remained unfound.
Afraid that the fish in the lake might eat at his body, the people wrapped some rice inside bamboo which they put in the lake for the fish to feed on. These were the earliest 粽子。
So this is the story of 端午节 (Duānwǔ jié) the Dragon Boat Festival! In our calendar it will fall on June 12 2013 (Wednesday).
Let’s begin with some of the ingredients!
First of all you need
- 粽叶Zòng yè Bamboo leaves
- 绳子(Shéngzi ) String
- 糯米 (Nuòmǐ) glutinous rice (rice soaked in lukewarm water)
- 红枣(Hóngzǎo )Red dates
You can actually use different fillings instead of the dates if you want a different粽子: you can go for sweet (甜的粽子Tián de zòngzi) or savoury (咸的粽子Xián de zòngzi) using pork filling for example!
The whole process requires quite a bit of dexterity and, like when making crepes or pancakes, you must expect the first one to be a miss and not give up!
We each got rewarded for our efforts with a 香包(Xiāng bāo) which is a fragrant sachet commonly found during the festival.
After the dumpling wrapping, we got to munch on some already made by a few of the teachers as they take over an hour to cook in boiling water. They were delicious! The art of making this dumpling is making sure they are safely and tightly wrapped; otherwise the filling seeps out of its bamboo leaf wrap and disintegrates… We will have to wait for the cooking of our own dumplings to see how good a job we did! Fingers crossed!