Sticky Rice Wrapped in Bamboo Leaves (Joong or Zhongzi)

READY IN: 7hrs




  • Start the day before you want to make the dumplings!
  • Soak rice, mung beans and bamboo leaves in separate containers overnight. Place a bowl or plate over the bamboo leaves to keep them submerged.
  • Combine 2 tsp salt, black pepper, 1 clove garlic, rice wine, water, rock sugar, cinnamon, white pepper, cloves, coriander, fennel, fenugreek and 2 tbsp canola oil in bowl. Stir in cubed pork, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • The next day, drain rice and set aside.
  • In a wok, heat remaining canola oil and stirfry remaining garlic, carrot, onion and ginger until slightly softened. Add chicken broth, 1 tsp salt, and fish sauce and stir well. Strain any excess marinade from pork and add to wok, (return Pork to fridge) and heat until bubbling. Add drained rice and stir frequently until liquid is absorbed. Let sit until cool enough to handle.
  • Meanwhile, transfer bamboo leaves to large pot of boiling water and simmer 30 minutes to soften and sterilize. (Vinegar can be added here to soften them further.) Wipe each leaf with a sponge or scrubbing pad under cool running water to remove any remaining soil. You can trim off the stems with scissors.
  • Drain mung beans and add white sugar and remaining 1/4 tsp salt.
  • Prepare 25 or so 4' lengths of string. I tied groups of 5 together at one end, with a loop to hang from a hook on my cabinet. Then as I tie up my dumplings, they are hanging from the string and I can put them in and take them out of pots in groups of 5.
  • Lay out your wrapping materials: softened bamboo leaves, rice mixture, mung beans and pork. You may want to keep the bowl of marinated pork in a larger bowl full of ice to keep it cold while you wrap.
  • Take 2 bamboo leaves, overlapping along their long sides about half-way, and form a cone (see videos). Pat in about 2 tbsp rice mixture, then 1/2 tbsp mung beans, then 2 or 3 pieces of pork, another 1/2 - 1 tbsp mung beans, then cover with another 2 or 3 tbsp of rice mixture. You may need to add a third bamboo leaf to extend the cone.
  • Use the ends of the leaves to firmly compress the cone of ingredients, and roughly shape the open end into a square or rectangle. Closing the bamboo leaf is tricky. I held the cone with the leaf ends pointing away from me. I folded the near edge towards the middle, folded the ends towards me over that, and carefully folded each side towards the middle, ensuring that the corners were covered. I always oriented my leaves the same way, so one side was leaf ends and the other was stem ends. I aimed to get the leaf ends under the stem ends. Then wind string around it until it seems secure. Keep wrapping dumplings until the filling is all gone. As I said, the first one took about 20 minutes, and several tries before it looked like it would hold together. The first 5 or so were quite ugly! But then I got the hang of it.
  • Heat a large pot or wok of salted water to boil. Place a few extra or ripped bamboo leaves in first, then some dumplings, then some more leaves. The water should just about cover the dumplings. I did 10 at a time in my wok and large pot. Bring back to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a good bubbling simmer for 2 hours, adding water about half-way through. They should be puffed slightly and feel firm but squishy when you squeeze them. Drain and rinse off with cool water.
  • Allow to cool or eat some hot right away. Remainder will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, and they freeze well (up to 6 months in a good freezer, well-wrapped).