Sticky Rice Dumplings | Bak Chang | Zongzi | Dragon Boat Festival | 端午节粽子食谱

Sticky rice dumplings are traditionally made during Dragon Boat Festival. In Cantonese dialect, these dumplings are called “Zong”, in Hokkien dialect, its called “Bak Chang” or in Chinese it’s called Zongzi “粽子”. These dumplings are made with glutinous rice filled with meat and other ingredients, wrapped in bamboo leaves and then boiled about 2 hours. You can also use a pressure cooker to reduce the cooking time.

Making savoury Sticky Rice Dumplings takes 2 days. It is quite time consuming. So usually we make in big batches and give away as gifts or freeze them.

Last year my Aunt taught me how to make my Grandma’s Zongzi Recipe. Click here for the vlog. So this year I wanted to make sure that I practiced making them. It does take some practice to wrap and tie the bamboo leaves correctly. Yes I had a few dumplings fall out from the strings while boiling them. So heartbreaking! But you’ll soon get the hang of it!

In this recipe, I’ll show you the ingredients and steps we use to make our family’s Zongzi Recipe. I’ll also go into detail on how to wrap the dumplings. I find this the most important step to make sure the dumplings don’t fall out while cooking. I will try my best to make sure you can successfully make these dumplings.


Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. It is believed that Dragon Boat Festival is to commemorate the death of poet and minister Qu Yuan who was admired by the local people. He was later accused of treason and drowned himself in the Miluo River. The local people rushed out in their boats to safe him and when he could not be saved, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that the fish would eat them instead of Qu Yuan’s body. So the Zongzi is a symbol of the drops of rice thrown into the river.


There are two types of sticky rice dumplings made during the Dragon Boat Festival:


Usually eaten with sweet condiments such as sugar, gula melaka syrup and kaya. If you are interested to make Alkaline Dumplings, I have another recipe here.


The savoury version is filled with meat, salted eggs, mushrooms and other ingredients. There are many variations to this savoury dumpling from different ethic groups. So the taste profile and ingredients used vary.


We use bamboo leaves. There is dried bamboo leaves or fresh bamboo leaves. For savoury dumplings, we usually use dried bamboo leaves as the size is bigger. Recommend to use leave with width 11 cm to 13 cm (see picture below). As for the string, I recommend using grass water strings (see picture below) instead of bamboo strings as they don’t break easily.


Soak the bamboo leaves and strings overnight. On the following day, wipe the bamboo leaves to remove any dirt. (Tip: I suggest wiping from head to tail. If you wipe the opposite direction, the cloth might get stuck) Place the bamboo leaves in a pot of hot water for 15 minutes to soften it.

Cut off the top part as it is very stiff. Stack the leaves on top of each other to prevent them from drying out. Don’t need to wipe them dry as they tend to dry out quite quickly. If they do dry out, simply soak them in water again.


Smooth side of the leaves face inwards

Smooth side of the leaves face inwards to prevent the rice from sticking to the leaves

Press the ingredients until compact in the bamboo cone

Press the rice and ingredients until compact into the bamboo cone so that it’s easier to wrap.

Observe water level. Always add boiling water during the cooking process

Don’t add cold water as it will affect the cooking time.

Use more leaves to wrap the dumplings

I recommend using more than two leaves to wrap the dumplings as it helps seal them well and prevent water from seeping in.

Make sure every corner of the triangle is properly covered

When wrapping the dumplings, it’s essential to check the corners of the triangle to ensure that the bamboo leaves overlap well. This step is crucial to prevent the rice from falling out and to ensure that water doesn’t seep into the dumplings while cooking.

Before placing the dumplings into the pot, it’s important to double-check that the strings used to secure them are tied well and tightly secured.

If you don’t tie it properly, the dumplings will fall out from the strings or the water will get into the rice.


Place one leave on top of another, then slide sideways to elongate the leaves
Fold the centre
Fold the centre
Fold the centre into a cone shape
Use thumb and index finger to gently press the sides of the cone
At the same time, use the other hand to fold the bamboo leaves downwards
Secure the sides
Now you see a tail
Fold the tail downwards towards you
It will look like a pyramid shape
Secure with bamboo strings


The cooking time is based on the size of the dumplings. If the dumpling size is bigger, then the cooking time will be longer.

Secondly is the time used to soak the rice. I only soaked for 30 minutes. If you soak longer, the cooking time may be less.

The size of the pot and the stove heat. The dumplings will cook faster in a bigger pot. When the volume of water is higher, the heat will be higher.


Carefully remove it from the pot using tongs or a slotted spoon. Allow the dumpling to cool slightly to a safe temperature for tasting. Cut open the dumpling and check the texture of the rice and ingredients inside. The rice should be tender and fully cooked, and the chestnuts, mung beans and pork belly fats should be tender and heated through.


When ready to eat, steam the dumplings in a steamer for about 20-30 minutes until they are heated through. Enjoy warm or hot.


After cooking, let them cool down completely. Then place in air tight containers or freeze safe plastic bags and store in the fridge or freezer. They can be stored in the fridge for 1 week or in the freezer for 1-2 months. When ready to eat, heat them up again by steaming them until soft. If removed from fridge, steam on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. If removed from freezer, recommend to thaw first before steaming, steam on medium heat for 20-30 minutes. You can steam straight away but it will take quite long around 40 minutes depending on the size of the dumplings.

Sticky Rice Dumplings Recipe | Bak Chang Recipe | Zongzi Recipe | 粽子食谱

Sticky Rice Dumplings Recipe | Bak Chang Recipe | Zongzi Recipe | 粽子食谱

Yield: 18-24 dumplings
Prep Time: 5 hours
Cook Time: 2 hours
Wrapping Dumpling Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 9 hours


Ingredients for the rice:

  • 1 kg glutinous rice

Seasoning for the rice:

  • 2 tablespoons of lard (optional)
  • 1 and a 1/2 cup shallot oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon msg seasoning
  • 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoon dark soy sauce

Ingredients for meat:

  • 500 grams pork belly (no skin)

Marinate for meat:

  • 1.5 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • and 1 tablespoon dark sweet thick sauce

Ingredients for mushrooms:

  • 12 mushrooms (half mushroom for each zongzi)

Seasoning for mushrooms:

  • 2-3 tablespoons shallot oil
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

Ingredients for chestnuts:

  • 24 chestnuts

Seasoning for chestnuts:

  • 2-3 tablespoons shallot oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon five spice powder

Other ingredients:

  • 100 grams of dried shrimp
  • 300 grams of mung beans
  • 12 salted eggs (half salted egg per zongzi)
  • 300 grams shallots
  • 3 cups of neutral cooking oil

Kitchen tools:

  • 1 packet (300 grams) bamboo leaves, 50-60 leaves (2-3 leaves per zongzi)
  • Grass water strings
  • Kitchen strings


  • 1公斤糯米


  • 2汤匙猪油(可选)
  • 1 和 1/2 杯香葱油
  • 3/4 茶匙盐
  • 1茶匙糖
  • 1茶匙味精调味料
  • 3汤匙生抽
  • 1汤匙蚝油
  • 2 茶匙老抽


  • 五花肉 500克 ( (无皮)
  • 肉类腌制:
  • 1.5茶匙五香粉
  • 1/4 茶匙盐
  • 1汤匙糖
  • 1汤匙生抽
  • 1.5汤匙蚝油
  • 1/4 茶匙胡椒粉
  • 1 汤匙老抽


  • 香菇12个(每个粽子半个)


  • 2-3汤匙香葱油
  • 1汤匙生抽
  • 1/8 茶匙五香粉
  • 1汤匙蚝油


  • 24个栗子


  • 2-3汤匙香葱油
  • 1茶匙糖
  • 1汤匙生抽
  • 1/8 茶匙五香粉
  • 其他材料:
  • 100克虾米
  • 300克绿豆
  • 12个咸蛋(每个粽子半个咸蛋)
  • 300克小洋葱
  • 3 杯菜油


  • 1包(300克)竹叶,50-60片(每个粽子2-3片)
  • 粽绳
  • 厨房绳子


  1. 1. Preparation for the first day: Start by removing the skin from the pork belly and cutting it into 24 pieces. Marinate the pork belly and refrigerate it overnight. Soak the mushrooms, chestnuts, bamboo leaves, and strings.
  2. On the following day, begin with the bamboo leaves. Wipe them to remove any dirt, ensuring to wipe from head to tail to prevent the cloth from getting stuck. Soften the bamboo leaves by placing them in a pot of hot water for 15 minutes. Cut off the top stiff part and stack the leaves to prevent drying, without the need to wipe them dry. If they do dry out, simply soak them in water again.
  3. Wash the mung beans until the water runs clear, then soak them for 1 hour 45 minutes. They should easily break apart when pressed. Remove any excess water.
  4. Similarly, wash the glutinous rice until the water runs clear, and soak it for 30 minutes. You will notice the rice puffing up slightly. Remove any excess water and set the rice aside.
  5. Remove the red membrane from the chestnuts and cook them for 25 minutes until they can be easily broken with a fork.
  6. Wash the dried shrimps and soak them for 10 minutes.
  7. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and halve them, setting them aside.
  8. Clean the salted eggs, extract the egg yolks, and cut them in half.
  9. Finally, thinly slice 300 grams of shallots.
  10. In a pan or wok, add 3 cups of neutral cooking oil. Fry the shallots on medium heat until they turn slightly brown. Remove them from the stove, as the residual heat will continue to cook them until they turn golden brown. Avoid waiting until they become fully golden brown, as they may become burnt and taste bitter.
  11. Next, fry the mushrooms. Add about 2-3 tablespoons of shallot oil to the wok, add mushrooms and seasoning. Fry the mushrooms until fragrant.
  12. Repeat the same process for frying the chestnuts and dried shrimps, using 2-3 tablespoons of shallot oil for each.
  13. Clean the wok before frying the rice. Add lard and 1 and a 1/2 cups of shallot oil to the hot wok. Add the glutinous rice and toss it a few times until it's coated with the fragrant oil. Add the seasoning and continue frying until fragrant. You will notice the rice becoming sticky.
  14. After frying the ingredients, arrange them in the sequence they should be placed into the bamboo leaves.
  15. Fold the bamboo leaves into a cone shape, making sure the corners overlap to prevent the rice from falling out.
  16. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of rice, pressing it tightly. Then add the mung beans, one piece of meat, half of a salted egg yolk, one piece of mushroom, one chestnut, dried shrimps, fried shallots, and shallot oil. Add more mung beans and top it up with more rice.
  17. Press the filling until it's compact before wrapping. Gently press the sides with your thumb and index finger while using the other hand to fold the bamboo leaves. You will see a tail. Fold the tail towards you to form a pyramid shape. If the bamboo leaves are not long enough, add another leaf. Secure the dumplings with bamboo strings.
  18. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Gently place the dumplings into the pot and reduce the heat to low. The water should only be gently bubbling to prevent the dumplings from falling out of the bamboo strings.
  19. Cook the dumplings for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes. Test one to ensure the rice and ingredients are tender and the pork belly fats have a "melt in the mouth" texture.
  20. While cooking, monitor the water level and add boiling water as needed to keep the dumplings fully submerged. This ensures even cooking, and more water can reduce the cooking time.
  21. Once the dumplings are cooked, remove them from the pot and allow them to cool to room temperature. They can be enjoyed by steaming them until hot or warm.
  22. If you can't finish them all, store the dumplings in the fridge or freezer.

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