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drizzling syrup on top of the kansui zong or sweet zongzi or alkaline rice dumpling
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Sweet Zongzi

This sweet zongzi recipe is a classic, traditional and very authentic Cantonese kansui zong (鹼水粽), jianshui zong (碱水粽) or alkaline rice dumpling with su mu (蘇木, Sappan wood). It has a video and step by step photo to guide you how to make this authentic Cantonese sweet zongzi at home for the festival.
Course Dessert, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Asian, Chinese
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 14
Calories 210kcal
Author Tracy O.

Ingredients

Syrup:

  • 1 cup Brown sugar
  • ½ cup Water

Instructions

  • Put 3 cups of glutinous rice into a glass container. (I try to use a glass container because the rice will mix with kansui later.)
  • Wash the glutinous rice a few times (3 times). Then, pour 4 cups of water to soak the glutinous rice for 1-2 hours. (Don’t over soak the rice because it will break easily.)
  • Next, wash and soak 30 pieces of dried bamboo leaves in hot water for 45 minutes to an hour. (In this sweet zongzi recipe, I can make around 14 small ones, it requires 28 bamboo leaves. But, I normally soak a couple extra in case some leaves are broken.)
  • After that, rinse and soak 14 pieces of su mu (蘇木) or sappan wood for 10 minutes. ( I used 14 pieces because in this recipe I can make around 14 small zhong.)
  • Cut 14 strings, each string is around 70 inches long.
  • After soaking the glutinous rice for 1-2 hour, drain the rice well.
  • Put the drained glutinous rice into the glass container. Then, add 1 tablespoon of kansui (potassium carbonate & sodium bicarbonate solution) or lye water. Mix it very well and make sure every rice is mixed with kansui. You will see the rice immediately change to slightly yellow when you add kansui.
  • Pour 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and mix well with the kansui glutinous rice.
  • Take 2 soaked bamboo leaves folded down to make a shell like, so it can hold the rice. See the details in the video below the recipe card.
  • Scoop 1.5-2 tablespoons of kansui glutinous rice from step 8 into the bamboo leaves.
  • The following, put 1 piece of soaked su mu (蘇木) or sappan wood in the middle of the rice.
  • After, scoop another 1.5-2 tablespoons of kansui glutinous rice on top and cover up the su mu (蘇木).
  • Later on, fold the side down and close the end. Cut extra hard and long parts. Take a string, wrap and tie the zhong. (Don’t tie the zhong too tightly because the rice will expand when cooking. Just tight enough to secure the bamboo leaves and rice inside, to leave some room for the rice to expand.)After wrapping the zhong, shake the zhong and make sure the rice is level off or even and not only go to one side. See details in the video.
  • Or, you can wrap the zhong in triangle shape and don't put any su mu (蘇木) or sappan wood inside. See details in the video.
  • After wrapping the zhong, put them into the instant pot pressure cook. (You can boil them over the top stove by filling enough water into a pot and making sure water covers the zhong. Turn on high fire until water is boiling, then turn the fire to medium small and boil for 1.5- 2 hours. Keep track of the water evaporating and add water while boiling.) 
  • Pour 8 cups of water into the instant pot pressure cooker. (Or, enough water to cover the zhong.) Then, close the lid and vent. Push the manual button to adjust the time for 45 minutes at high pressure and natural release pressure.
  • Meanwhile, put 1 cup of brown sugar into a pot.
  • Then, pour ½ cup of water into the pot. Turn the fire to small. Keep stirring it and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes depending how thick you want the syrup to be. (I did around 20 minutes.)
  • When the syrup cools off, it will become thicker.
  • When the zhong is done, open the lid and take out the zhong. (Be careful it is hot.)
  • Put the jianshui zong on the plate and let it cool off a little bit.
  • Untied and unwrap the kansui zong. You can see this beautiful amber color.
  • Cut the gan sui zhong or alkaline rice dumpling into half.
  • Remove and discard the su mu (蘇木) or sappan wood because we don't eat it. (Su mu changes to dark red purplish because it is mixed with the alkaline rice.)
  • Drizzling some syrup from step 19 on the gan sui zhong. Or, dip it into sugar before eating.

Video

Notes

Cooking tips for how to make alkaline rice dumplings:

  • Wash and soak the dried bamboo leaves with hot water for 45 minutes to an hour before wrapping. 
  • Then, wash the glutinous rice a few times (3 times). 
  •  And, soak the glutinous rice for at least 1 hour. (Soak for 1 to 2 hours. But, don’t over soak the rice because it will break easily.)
  • After that, rinse and soak the su mu (蘇木) or sappan wood for 10 minutes. 
  • Don’t add too much kansui because it will have a bitter taste. However, if you add too little, it will not have a pretty amber color. 
  • Remember to add vegetable oil because it prevents the rice from sticking to the bamboo leaves.
  • Don’t tie the zhong too tightly because the rice will expand when cooking. Just tight enough to secure the bamboo leaves and rice inside, to leave some room for the rice to expand. 
  • After wrapping the zhong, shake the zhong and make sure the rice is level off or even and not only go to one side. 
  • During the boiling process, the water will evaporate. So, you have to add more water if you use the top stove method. 
  • Use the top stove method, fill up enough water into a pot and make sure water covers the zhong. Turn on high fire until water is boiling, then turn the fire to medium small and boil for 1.5- 2 hours. Keep track of the water evaporating and add water while boiling.
  • Instant pot method, push the manual button to adjust the time for 45 minutes at high pressure and natural release pressure.
  • I find cooking zhong in the instant pot pressure cooker is the best way because it is faster and easier that you don't need to watch and keep track of boiling and cooking. 
  • Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days. Or, you can freeze them for up to months. 
  • To reheat, you can boil them in water for about 10-15 minutes when taken out from the refrigerator. Or, boil them for 20-30 minutes when taken out from the freezer.
  • Using an instant pot to reheat the zhong, put a cup of water into an instant pot, then close the lid and vent, adjust the time for 5 minutes at high pressure and natural release. 
  • Kansui zong tastes the best at room temperature because you can taste all of the flavors and textures such as chewy, sticky and soft. 
  • Su Mu put in the alkaline zong and it changes to dark red purplish. 
  • Cut the alkaline rice dumpling into half and remove the su mu before eating the sweet zongzi.

Nutrition

Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 53mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg