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The dumpling that hosts a myriad of yummy fillings
2013-05-22

ZONGZI, a pyramid-shaped rice dumpling wrapped in a bamboo or other leaf, is a traditional snack in China, a must-eat snack during the Dragon Festival, which falls on June 12 this year.

Stuffed with a wide variety of fillings, such as mashed jujube, green or red bean paste, lotus seeds, sliced ham, egg yolks, minced pork, diced mushroom and shrimp paste, zongzi has been a national food favorite dating back more than 2,000 years.

Different regions of China serve zongzi according to local customs and tastes. In the north, people prefer rice, usually stuffed with jujubes or red bean paste. Northern zongzi is usually served with a small dish of sugar to add more flavor.

But south of the Yangtze River, people tend to prefer zongzi made with glutinous rice, soaked in soy sauce for hours first. The dumplings are usually stuffed with minced pork, ham, sausage, shrimp paste or diced mushrooms.

The south also has sweet zongzi, filled with red bean paste, jujube and broad beans. There is also one special "2 in 1" zongzi, which includes both salty and sweet fillings together.

In Hunan Province, where locals like their food spicy, people use top quality sticky rice, filled with pork containing both lean and fat bits.

The meat is typically marinated until it is tender. Then, mushroom, shrimp, lotus seed and sugar are added, and the dumplings are served with sauces of garlic, wasabi and red chili. The result is a taste treat combining saltiness, sweetness, spice and a gentle oiliness.

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