Joong (rice tamale)

  • Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comHelen Weiner's Chinese rice tamale.

    Bob Chwedyk/bchwedyk@dailyherald.comHelen Weiner's Chinese rice tamale.

Posted6/16/2015 6:00 AM

1 package of dried bamboo leaves

2 tablespoons baking soda


1 pound pork belly, cut into one-half-inch-pieces mixed in 2 teaspoons of salt, refrigerated overnight

1 package Chinese pork sausage, cut 2 inch segments and cut again in half lengthwise

1 cup Chinese dried shrimp, soaked in cold water 15 minutes and then drained

1 package salted duck eggs, open eggs, discard whites, and cut tacky yolks in half

1 14-ounce package dried yellow mung beans, soak in water for 1 hour, drain

1 14-ounce package raw Spanish peanuts

5 pounds Chinese sweet rice

1 tablespoon of salt

Place bamboo leaves in a large stock pot of simmering hot water with baking soda for 1 hour. Separating the leaves will assist in the cleaning process of the leaves. Pour out the dirty water. Rinse the leaves several times with cold water. Refill pot with cold water and soak the leaves overnight. Drain and place in a colander.

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To make the Chinese sweet rice, rinse the rice in warm water, and rub between the palms of your hands to clean. You are removing the excess starch. Drain and repeat several times until the water is pretty clear. Cover the rice with cool water and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and mix in 2 teaspoons of salt.

Use only bamboo leaves that are not torn. Take two leaves and place on top of each other lengthwise, overlapping all but 1 inch along the bottom length. With the 1 inch overlap facing you, fold the leaves in half crosswise, with the bottom edges together (the top edges stay open). Fold the 1 inch overlap to close the bottom and form a pocket. Hold the pocket in one palm with ends of the leaves facing you. Place about a half cup rice into the pocket. Make a well and add 1 tablespoon of the mung beans, ½ egg yolk, two pieces sausage, four to five shrimps, a piece of pork and three to four peanuts. Layer on top 1 tablespoon mung beans and two to three tablespoons of rice so the filling is encased with the sweet rice.

Wrap a third leaf around the two to extend the depth of the pocket by ½ inch. Pinch the two top edges together and fold the top edge tightly over the filling to seal. Stand the tamale with the open end up and lightly tap on table to help the filling settle. The filling should be as compact as possible. Turn the joong, or zong, so one of the folded edges in facing you and fold the open ends tightly over the filling toward you to seal. This will force the tamale to form a tight pyramid.

Using about 3 feet of butchers string for each tamale, place the center of the string in the center of the tamale and wind seven to eight times across the width and then two to three times lengthwise. Secure tightly with a knot. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make about 30 tamales.

Depending on the size of your pressure cooker, put the tamales into the pot. Fill the pot ¾ of the way with water (read your recommended pressure cooker directions). Set the pressure cooker at 15 pounds of pressure for 1 hour. Shut the heat on the pressure cooker and allow it to cool slowly to uncover safely. Joongs are ready to eat hot after you peel away the leaves. You can store in the refrigerator or freezer. Microwave to reheat. I like to slice them lengthwise in half and lightly pan fry them in a teaspoon of oil so they are also crisp on the outside.

Cook's note: This traditional recipe is a rice tamale called Joong, of zong. They are made to commemorate the Summer Solstice. The process of making Joongs is time consuming and the number of people willing to make these is diminishing. But when you do make these homemade Joongs, you will have made a delicious Chinese tradition at its finest. All of the ingredients listed are common products you can find in a Chinese grocery store.

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