Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food, made of tasty glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. They are cooked either by steaming or boiling. Zongzi is a popular specialty consumed during the Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar, commemorating the death of Qu Yuan, a pioneering poet and patriotic official in ancient China during the Warring States period (475-221 B.C.), served as a minister to the Chu State.
Known for his patriotism, seeing his country being destroyed Qu Yuan's grief was so intense that he drowned himself in the Miluo river. According to legend, as he was deeply loved by the people, the local folk did what they could to search for him in the river. They rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, meanwhile packets of rice were thrown into the river to prevent fish from eating the poet's body. Another version states that zongzi were given to placate a dragon that lived in the river.
Since then, it has been a customary on this day to enjoy zongzi as a memorial to the patriotic poet. In commemoration of the initial attempts to find Qu Yuan's body, boat races are also held, and the day is also known as the Dragon Boat Festival.
Different kinds of fillings:
The fillings used for zongzi vary from region to region, but the rice used is always glutinous rice (also called sticky or sweet rice). According to the region, the rice may be lightly precooked by stir-frying or soaked before using. Today's Zongzi is made similarly, with a serving of rice wrapped in leaves and tied together with string. There are lots of different kinds of zongzi, each with its own particular flavor, shape, and type of leaf for wrapping. The glutinous rice mixture is wrapped in leaves of wild rice, palm or bamboo. Bamboo-leaf zongzi is a specialty of South China. As for flavor, the Beijing style is the sweetest, with coarse bean paste. Guangdong zongzi is either sweet-tasting, with walnut, date or bean, or salty with filling ham, egg, meat, roast chicken. Zongzi need to be steamed or boiled for several hours depending on how the rice is made prior to adding the fillings. Once cooked, the zongzi can easily be frozen for later consumption. Frozen zongzi are available for sale in Chinese markets.
The shape of zongzi ranges from relatively tetrahedral to cylindrical. Zongzi is usually four-sided with pointed, rounded ends, or pyramid shapes. Sometimes it is in the shape of a cone or cylinder. Wrapping a zongzi neatly is a skill which is passed down through families, as are the recipes. Making zongzi was traditionally a family event with everyone helping out, but that is less common now.
While traditional Chinese zongzi are wrapped in bamboo leaves, the leaves of lotus, maize, banana, canna, shell ginger or pandan leaves are sometimes used as substitutes in other cultures. Each kind of leaf imparts its own unique smell and flavor to the rice.
How to eat healthily:
Firstly, to help digest well, you can drink tea while enjoying zongzi. If eat accompanied by fruits and vegetables that would be helpful to help digest. For those whose stomach can not digest well, too much sticky rice will probably do harm to your stomach. So please pay attention not to eat too much at a time. Secondly, mainly zongzi is made of sticky rice which contains fat, salt and sugar，for instance, a normal meat zongzi will have 400-500 calorie which is approximately half bowl of rice, therefore for ladies the most volume is three per day and gentlemen 5 is the maximum per day. For those who have diabetes, please be careful as zongzi contains lots of sugar in it. We’d suggest you not to eat zongzi before sleep. For the left zongzi, you can put them into refrigerator and eat them as soon as possible to keep them fresh and enjoy the good taste.