It’s time for a delicious zong zi

Written by April Zhang on Tuesday, 16 June 2020. Posted in Front Page

It’s time for a delicious zong zi

One important aspect of learning Chinese is to learn about Chinese food. During the Chinese New Year, we’d love to talk about dumplings and all the auspicious good food. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, it’s all about moon cakes and those wonderful seasonal fruits. Right now, it is about zong zi (粽子), as Duan Wu Jie (端午节) is coming up!

This year, Duan Wu Jie is on June 25, the fifth day of the fifth month in Chinese traditional lunar calendar. It is the season for dragon boat racing and delicious zong zi. 

Before, dragon boat racing teams would have already made their appearance. Accompanied by energetic drum beats, I could see one or two slim dragon boats far out in the sea practicing, preparing for the big event. Usually it was the thunder like drum beats that first caught my attention. However, this year it has been pretty quiet. It is possible that the social distancing rules among the COVID-19 pandemic have had changed things quite a bit. I wonder if any dragon boat racing will be held this year. 

Fortunately, zong zi is still here to comfort us.

Zong zi is basically sticky rice wrapped skilfully in reed leaves and tied with a string. It can be as simple as that, or as complicated as stuffing tons of ingredients in it. 

In Hong Kong, people would put pork, beans, mushrooms, salted egg yolks, peas, peanuts, scallops, and shrimps inside zong zi. One zong zi like that is a full meal. I always had fun eating a huge zong zi like that. As it was filled with goodies, it gave me the feeling that I was hunting treasures in my plate. I kept digging up all the wonderful stuff as I ate, and never knew what would come up next! 

While treasure hunting a big zong zi is fun, that does not diminish the enjoyment of a small and simple zong zi, just sticky rice with two or three big red dates in it. The wonderful flavour and the special texture of sticky rice are marvellous. And everyone loves dates. 

In Hong Kong, some people like to put some soy sauce in their zong zi, while others like to eat their zong zi with sugar. If you don’t like soy sauce or sugar, you can pick chilli sauce, vinegar, or honey. Or just eat zong zi as they are. 

Summer is here. We’ve been locked down long enough. Let’s have some fun despite the fact that we don’t know what will happen next with this COVID-19 virus. 

Therefore, whether you are learning Chinese or not, it is time for a delicious zong zi! Cut the stings, unwrap the reed leaves, appreciate the wonderful sculpture made with sticky rice, move your chopsticks, and start to enjoy. 


About the Author

April Zhang

April Zhang

April Zhang is the founder of MSL Master and the author of two series of Chinese textbooks, Mandarin Express series and Chinese Reading and Writing series, which are highly relevant and very effective for non-Chinese speakers to learn Mandarin Chinese.


April Zhang
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