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Smelling Again the Bamboo Leaf Dumplings

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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
Posts: 83
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 10:53 pm    Post subject: Smelling Again the Bamboo Leaf Dumplings Reply with quote

Laughing After work, I was walking around the bank of my campus lake while pleasant breezes constantly and softly touched my face and brought me a sort of mellow smell of cooked bamboo leaves. “ Oh, today is the dragon boat festival and it is the high time to have bamboo-leaf dumpling now!” *A strong impulse suddenly arose in my mind.
Ever since the beginning of my university study, I left my hometown and had more than four-decade’s immigration life in different cities. I had such experiences as to try lots of bamboo-leaf dumplings, known as “Zong” or “Zhong Zi” in Chinese.

They all characterized by various local styles, for instance, “Jiaxing Zong Zi” made in Jiaxing, is famous in all over the China, especially in Su Zhou and Shanghai area. Its main composition is the mixture of sticky rice(also known as glutinous rice), bacon and other ingredients. Fold the bamboo leaves as a funnel form, and fill with the mixture; then bend back the leaf ends to cover the funnel top and firmly tie up the assembly with twine. The Jiaxing Zong Zi looks like a small pyramid but with triangular face in each side.
Full of delightful bacon aroma, plus soft, tough and sticky feeling in your mouth, the taste of Jiaxing Zong Zi is really unforgettable.

The famous Cantonese “Zong Zi”--known as “Zhao Qing Zong”, however, is far more complicated than the previous one. It is covered with banana leaf and classified by sweet and salt taste. The ingredients of sweet “Zhao Qing Zong” include sticky rice, rock candy, red dates, medlar pulps and with sweet bean paste inside. The ingredients of the salt one mainly include sticky rice, chicken or ham. The shape of the “Zhao Qing Zong” is standard pyramid with rectangular base.
No matter in sweet or salt Zong Zi, the sticky rice is mixed with a small amount of edible alkali. After long-time slow cooking, the rice completely melts together and becomes a jelly-like solid with dark brown color. After such process, the Zong Zi tastes rather elastic with a special flavor.

The Zong Zi in our hometown isn’t as tasty as above-mentioned brands. Therefore, it remains a local food rather than a well-known genre. However, its packing technology is far more practical and convenient than anyone else.

It is very tiresome to unpack those brand products. Some tools, such as knife or scissors is absolutely necessary for twine cutting. In this case, a great packing advantage is outstandingly presented in my hometown Zong Zi.
Our Zong Zi is tied up by a piece of ripped palm leaf, known as Zong Sha (the thread for Zong Zi tieing). The Zong Sha is much longer than previous twine. It has been firmly set around the little pyramid, since the tightness is a top quality to affect Zong Zi’s taste. Besides, with one end out, the two ends of the Zong Sha were deliberately buried beneath the bamboo leaves before. Therefore, the final tightening is nothing but to tauten the out end of the Zong Sha.
The unpacking method is also very convenient, just a simple pull to the out end in the opposite direction to the tightening without any assistant tool.

Another use of the out end is to joint the Zong Zi together. Local people always joint five or 10 Zong Zis together and bring them, as festival gift, to send friends or relatives nearby. Some children, with king’s yellow (arsenic sulphide) on their noses and cheeks, even fancy to wear a tiny Zong Zi necklace as festival decoration.

Today, I stay in this alien city alone and smell so familiar air with bamboo leaf aroma, how couldn’t I stop my mind’s soaring and nostalgia surging?

Written in PRC on 6,19,2007

For Chinese version:

*The May 5th in Chinese lunar Calendar (June 19 this year) is a Chinese traditional festival, known as "Dragon Boat Festival".
It has been a fete for thousands' years to conmemorate a patriotic poet, Qu Yuan, who commited suicide in Mi Luo River when his motherland was occupied by their enemy. People rowed the boats in form of the dragon to drive the fish away and threw Zong Zis into the water to diversify the fish's attention to Qu Yuan's body. Therefore, Zong Zi has become a sort of typical Chinese food in the special day of "the Dragon Boat Festival".

Picture1: The packing of our Zong Zi is very practical
Practice made every effort perfect
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