The Chinese zongzi — sticky rice wrapped in leaves then steamed — has many variations all over Asia. Some are savory while others are sweet. Although bamboo leaves are traditionally used for zongzi, elsewhere in Asia, other leaves like lotus and banana are used. The filling that goes with the rice varies from region to region in China, and from country to country elsewhere in Asia. The shape varies too from pyramidal to conical to cylindrical to square.
My version of steamed sticky rice has a pork and shiitake mushroom filling. I used banana leaves to wrap them.
Recipe: Steamed sticky rice and pork wrapped in banana leaves
- 1 and 1/2 c. of sticky (glutinous) rice, cooked with the minimal amount of water
- 2 tbsps. of cooking oil
- 200 to 300 g. of cooked pork belly, cut into half-inch cubes
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3 shallots (or 1 to 2 onions), finely sliced
- half-inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 star anise
- 4 to 6 tbsps. of soy sauce
- 2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
- 2 tbsps. of tamarind paste (or use tamarind juice)
- 2 tbsps. of palm sugar (brown sugar may be substituted)
- 10 shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
- 1 banana leaf
- Heat the cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. Add the pork and cook until the edges start to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, star anise and shallots. Continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute.
- Pour in the soy sauce, oyster sauce and tamarind paste (or juice). Stir in the palm sugar. Stir fry for about a minute.
- Add the sliced mushrooms. Stir fry for another minute. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed.
- Prepare the banana leaves. Cut the fibrous part along the side. Save it for tying the parcels.
- Cut the leaves into eight pieces about 10-inch square.
- Wipe the leaves then pass over the flame of the stove to wilt. If you don’t wilt the leaves, they won’t be pliable enough for wrapping.
- Divide the rice and filling into four portions (don’t forget to discard the star anise in the filling!).
- Place two pieces of banana leaf one on top of the other, shiny sides up.
- Spread one portion of rice on a piece of on the banana leaf. Top with a portion of the filling.
- Wrap the rice and filling as you would a sandwich. Wrap with the other piece of banana leaf. Tie to secure.
- Repeat with the remaining three portions of rice and filling.
- Place the parcels in steamer baskets. Steam for 40 minutes.
- To serve: Unwrap, sprinkle with crisp onion slices and snipped scallions.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Cooking time: 40 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4