Monday, June 1, 2009

Zhong Zhi - Preparing the Leaves and Wrapping Process - Part 4

All photos, except for that posted in the Part 3 were taken during last year's festival but due to time constraints, I never got to post it up until several months after the event and by then, I thought it was a bit late and thought I'll save it for this year.
Last year, I only had to help mum and dad but this year, I was doing the whole thing solo. It was a bit of an effort to get everything prepared, to get it wrapped and cooked but it was well worth it.
Preparing the leaves:
Dried bamboo leaves are filthy so make sure it is well cleaned before use. First, the store-bought dried bamboo leaves (tan to light brown in colour) have to be soaked in hot water until it softens and turns green. Then the water has to be changed twice daily for a few days. A scrubbing brush is required to scrub both sides of the leaves once the leaves have softened. Notice the dirty water in the second pic from just scrubbing about 30 leaves or so. Allow the washed leaves to soak in the water for at least overnight. Rinse and drain the leaves, making sure that the upper surface of the leaves all face the same way.
Wrapping Process:
  1. Fold the leaf into a cone shape, ensuring that the top surface of the leaf is on the inside to prevent the glutinous rice sticking on the leaf after cooking.
  2. Fill up with rice and filling.
  3. Hold the dumpling cone with your thumb and middle finger and push down on the leaf from the top. You should have two flaps on the side of the dumpling.
  4. Push down the left flap and secure it using the thumb.
  5. Repeat step 4 with the right flap and hold with the middle finger.
  6. Using your other hand, fold the jutting-out leaf such that it follows the contour of the dumpling (left or right, it doesn't matter).
  7. Secure it with a piece of nylon string (or raffa vine), which should be parallel to the two flaps mentioned in step 3, 4, and 5. Double knot the string.
  8. Once a bundle has been made (around 15 per bundle), place in the pressure cooker or a stove pot (this will take about 3 hours to cook as oppose to the 1 hour in the pressure cooker) to allow it to cook.
  9. Once taken out of the pressure cooker, allow the bundle of dumplings to fully drip-dry (about 2 hours) before placing it in the fridge. This process deters mould from forming in a humid environment.

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