Zongzi – Chinese Sticky Rice with Pork In Bamboo Leaves

When I lived in China, zongzi and jiaozi (New Year’s dumplings) were among our favorite foods.

I wanted to make these zongzi again and today I am sharing my recipe. They are basically bamboo leaves stuffed with pork and sticky rice. A delicious comfort food!

I asked my husband for help this time, because folding the bamboo leaves is a bit tricky. This is why I have included the video of my friend Margot Zhang below, so you can see how it all comes together.

And you want to be able to close your eyes and think you’re at a Chinese street food market in the 1990s, simply use fat pork instead of lean pork!


Serves 8 – Total time 90 min
8 oz (225g) lean pork meat
15 small shiitake mushrooms
10.5 oz (300 g) sticky rice, uncooked
1 tsp dark soy sauce (for the rice)
1 tbsp light soy sauce (for the rice)
salt, pepper (for the rice)
20 bamboo leaves, dried
kitchen or garden string
For the marinade:
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp ShaoXing wine or similar cooking wine
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp honey
3 slices fresh ginger
10 Sichuan peppercorns
4 star anise
salt, pepper

The day before (or a few hours before): dice the pork and mix together with all the ingredients of the marinade. Refrigerate overnight.

Soak the sticky rice in cold water for one hour. The water should just cover the rice.

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in hot water for 30 minutes.

Boil the dried bamboo leaves in a large pot for 5 minutes, and then take off the heat and leave in the water for about 20 minutes.

Wash bamboo leaves under cold running water.

Drain the rice very well. Mix in a bowl with the soy sauces and some salt and pepper.

Drain the shiitake mushrooms, and cut into 4-5 pieces.

Take the pork from the refrigerator, and remove the spices: star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and ginger slices. Add the shiitake mushrooms.

Here is what the prepared ingredients look like:


Now, cut pieces of string of about 20 inches (50 cm) each.

Now we are ready to make the zongzi. Here is how to stuff and fold the bamboo leaves (note: the video has no sound):

Here is what the zongzi look like before they are cooked  (thanks hubbie!):


Once they are all ready, place them in a large cooking pot. Add cold water to just cover them. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and cook for 20 minutes in simmering water.

Drain immediately.

You can eat them right away, or set them aside and steam them for 5 to 10 minutes when it’s time to eat.

I always make sure I make a pile of them; we’ll then only eat about half of them, and the rest gets frozen.

So, don’t be impressed by the time it takes to prepare them, because it will give you 2 family meals.


Kids love them because it’s like a surprise…”what’s in there, Mom?”


Enjoy your zongzi!


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