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Joongs/Zhongzhi (Mandarin) - Chinese Tamales

Joongs (as it's known in Cantonese) or Zhongzhi (in Mandarin) are a Chinese wrapped dumpling. Like other dumplings they can be made with sweet or savory fillings. Our favorite is a savory filling of glutinous rice, peanut, Chinese sausage, fatty pork belly, mung beans, dried shrimp, salted egg yolk and mushrooms. They are wrapped in bamboo leaves which gives it a wonderfully distinct earthy aroma faintly reminiscent of tea.

I know I keep saying everything is my favorite but I'm really only posting about my family favorites. To me, all the ingredients are a must. Of course leave out if you are allergic to seafood, peanuts or eggs but otherwise give it a try using all the ingredients. Each ingredient lends a specific aroma, texture or umami experience that it wouldn't be the same without. This really is a package deal that you won't want to miss!

What's the best part? My kids would say the Chinese sausage with the rice and beans. Oh so good! Not to worry though. I have to cut back on saturated fat and have been making mine without the meat and different but still yummy!

Great for breakfast, snack or portable lunch!

Ingredients (makes 12 medium joongs)

4 cups uncooked glutinous (sweet) rice, soaked overnight

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon salt

1/2 pound pork belly, cut into 12 equal pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons rice cooking wine

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

6-8 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked overnight, sliced

3 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon rice cooking wine

3/4 cup of raw peanuts, soaked overnight

3/4 cup mung beans (no skins), soaked overnight

24 dried shrimp, soaked overnight

6 salted duck egg yolks (optional), cut in half

4 Chinese sausages (lop cheung) cut into thirds (12 pieces)

26-28 bamboo leaves, soaked overnight (extras in case some are ripped)


ball of cotton twine/string



Rinse and soak the glutinous rice, peanuts, mung beans, dried shrimp, mushrooms and bamboo leaves overnight each in their own containers with plenty of water.

Drain rice and mix in oil and salt. Set aside.

Marinate the pork belly. Mix together sliced pork belly, soy sauce, sugar, pepper and wine. Set aside.

Slice soaked mushrooms. Discard hard parts of stems. In a skillet over medium high heat, heat up 2 teaspoons of oil. When oil is shimmery add sliced mushrooms and saute one minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, salt and cooking wine and stir until all liquid is absorbed/evaporated, 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

Drain peanuts, mung beans, dried shrimp. Leave in their own containers. Gather all fillings within reach as well as string and scissors.

I'm not going to lie. This part is tricky. Watch video for wrapping. Don't worry if it doesn't look perfect. The packets should end up with 4 corners but twisted from each other. It is more important to make sure everything is contained than to get the perfect shape. It will all taste the same.

Take 2 leaves, raised rib side down, and overlap bottom rounder ends over each other by 4-5". Form a small cone by placing thumbs in middle to hold in place while bringing tips of leaves together. Hold the cone in your left hand. Fill with about 1/4 cup rice, 1 tablespoon mung beans, 1 tablespoon peanuts, 1 tablespoon mushrooms, 2 shrimp, 1/2 egg yolk if using, 1 chunk of Chinese sausage, 1 chunk of marinated pork belly. Top with another 2 tablespoons of rice. Slightly pinch the filled cone and bring the leaves down and over the filling covering and wrapping over the sides. Fold up the part of the leaves that hang over and hold everything in place while tying with string.

Place joongs/zhongzhi in a large pot. Cover with water and boil for 1.25 hours or place in pressure cooker for 45 minutes. Unwrap and enjoy!

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