China,  Japan,  Korea,  Summer,  Vegetarian

Dragon Boat Festival food – Zongzi

Get ready to paddle for joy at this Dragon Boat Festival! Held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month,
this ancient Chinese tradition is a time of feasting, racing, and celebrating the joys of life.

The excitement of the Dragon Boat Festival stems from the thrilling boat races where teams of oarsmen row furiously to the beat of a drum. But that’s not all – something also known as the festival for its delicious food such as zongzi 粽子(glutinous rice dumplings) and xiaolongbao 小笼包(steamed pork buns). And what kind of festival would it be without colourful decorations? You’ll find dragon ship decorations, paper lanterns and wormwood.


Zongzi is a food eaten by Chinese people around the world during the Dragon Boat Festival. There are several design and colour variants. In terms of fillings, Beijing jujube rice dumplings with small dates are up north; red bean paste, fresh meat, ham, egg yolk and other fillings are available in the south. Eating zongzi has been popular in China for thousands of years and has spread to Korea, Japan and Southeast Asian countries.

“Five” related foods

In many areas, five kinds of food collectively referred to by the number “five” are eaten at the Dragon Boat Festival.
There is a custom of eating “five yellows” during the Dragon Boat Festival in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Huangshan. Five yellow refers to cucumber, rice field eel, yellow croaker, salted duck egg yolk, and realgar wine, and some people in modern times will replace realgar wine with rice wine. Yellow croaker and rice field eel nourish the middle and replenish qi, and are used for weak spleen and stomach; cucumber clears heat and detoxifies, promotes body fluid and quenches thirst; Since most yellow foods have the effect of nourishing the spleen and stomach, the folk saying that yellow can detoxify and control evil spirits is not entirely superstitious, but also includes the awareness of health care according to the seasons.
In addition, some areas in the south of the Yangtze River have the custom of eating “five reds“. The “five reds” are not exactly the same in different places, but they are all seasonal foods in summer. For example, the five reds in the Gaogang area are braised yellow croaker, braised pork, amaranth, salted duck eggs, and river prawns; in Nanjing, they are roasted duck, amaranth, duck eggs in red oil, lobster, and eel.
While the water towns in the south of the Yangtze River, represented by Suzhou, eat “five whites” at the Dragon Boat Festival, that is, white meat, white chicken, white tofu, white garlic, and wild rice stems.
Guangdong, Hong Kong and other regions eat five-bean porridge ( or The custom of five-colour bean porridge ) which is said to be able to ward off evil spirits. According to traditional Chinese medicine, five-colour beans have the effects of clearing away heat and detoxifying and strengthening the spleen and stomach.

This year I also made this purple sticky rice dumpling. The finished product is really delicious.

You will need:

purple glutinous rice
peanut kernel
lotus seeds
red beans
white sugar
large leaves


Soak red beans, lotus seeds, and peanuts for more than 12 hours in advance. Purple glutinous rice is also soaked for more than 12 hours. It takes a long time to cook and is sticky. Purple rice is harder than white glutinous rice. After soaking, wash the raisins and add them. Add an appropriate amount of white sugar. Mix well.

The leaves I use are large pieces of fresh leaves. If the leaves are dry, they should be boiled in boiling water for a few minutes and then soaked until soft. Take a large leaf and cut off the hard root. Form a long, thin funnel. Then put in the mixed purple glutinous rice, seal the mouth and tie.

The rice dumplings are wrapped. Put more water in the pot, and boil the water on high heat. Then put the wrapped glutinous rice. Turn on medium-low heat and cook for 2 hours. Because purple rice is harder than white glutinous rice, it takes longer. After cooking, cook in the pot for another 2 hours before eating and the taste is the most sticky.

Chinese New Year 2023 can be found here

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