May 28, 2016

Mini Crystal Red Bean Zong Zi 水晶紅豆粽子

Mini Crystal Red Bean Zong Zi 水晶紅豆粽子

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap
By Published: 2016-05-28
It's almost that time of the year for the beating drums of the Dragon Boat races and the deliciously tantalizing aroma of zong zi 粽子 floating in the air: it's time for Duanwu Dragon Boat Festival 端午節!  For me, this time of the year is always filled with thoughts of my dearest Grandma 奶奶, busy and bossy in her kitchen, making all kinds of special traditional treats for us that no one else bothered to learn how to make.  Except me, I guess, I finally did some learning myself on these things and always have her in my mind and heart as I bustle away in my own little kitchen.  So every Dragon Boat Festival I always try to find the time to make two kinds of zong zi just as Grandma made, one kind the savory pork and salted duck egg zong zi 肉粽子  and the other kind the sweet red bean zong zi 紅豆沙粽子.  This year I thought I would try adding a twist to this traditional combo and thus made these Mini Crystal Red Bean Zong Zi, or 水晶紅豆粽子, a light and delightfully chewy, beautifully translucent version of the traditional zong zi.


Everything in this Crystal Zong Zi is the same as the regular zong zi, except for two things.  The first thing is that I decided to make mini zong zi (approx. 3" long, around half of the normal size), as the regular zong zi size is a bit much to eat in one go sometimes, especially for my little girl.  These mini zong zi are really cute, small little packages, perfect to pull one or two out of the freezer and give them a quick boil for a lovely, aromatic afternoon tea snack.

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap

The second thing is that instead of using glutinous rice you use tapioca pearls 木薯珍珠, also know as boba, which gives the dumpling its unique crystal like, translucent appearance.  Tapioca pearls come in sizes from 1mm to 8mm. (We used 3mm pearls this time but next time I think I would go a bit smaller.)  They are made from the starch of the cassava root which has been a food since the age of the Mayans.  That's around 1400 years ago!  Tapioca pearls are also often known as sago pearls 西米珍珠, but it turns out that sago pearls are actually a different food, being made from the starch of the palm tree pith.  Tapioca is more common and seems to be mislabeled as sago quite a bit.  But, anyways, I think that they can be used interchangeably.

      

 The tapioca pearls impart a light, tender, delightful chewiness that the lovers of the fantastic Bubble Tea will know well.  So if you think that the glutinous rice is a bit heavy for your taste, this might just be the alternative for you.  Besides of which the perfectly round sago pearls look so crystally cool (like heaps of translucent fish eggs!) in the zong zi. 

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap
These pearls probably should be soaked a bit longer to become completely translucent.
Having never worked with tapioca/sago pearls before, I did have quite a time figuring out how to prepare the pearls properly.  The first thing I tried was to quickly rinse the pearls with water.  Umm...completely mushy and kinda melty.  Then I tried soaking the pearls for longer, about 1/2 hour.  Umm...completely mushy and kinda even more melty.  Not looking like pearls at all.  A bit teary eyed at this point, I was ready to throw the whole lot into the trash can.  My 老公, feeling sorry for me, decided to lend a hand and threw the pearls into a pot of boiling water.  Ah-ha...the eureka moment!  Turns out that boiling water plumps up those lovely pearl shapes and then you just gotta time the boiling and soaking in the hot water so that the pearls are just translucent.  Then a cool bath of tap water will lock those pearls into perfect readiness for your zong zi.

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap
Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap

Of course you will need bamboo leaves and straw or just plain old kitchen twine for wrapping the zong zi.  I love these zong zi bamboo leaves, the smell of them cooking always sends me right back to when I was little and grandma was cooking zong zi for us.


      

Buy the bamboo leaves and straw at the wet markets or at your asian grocery store.  To prepare the bamboo leaves, just let them boil in hot water for a bit, then leave to soak in the hot water until pliable.  The straw, if you can find it, is fun to use, it makes me feel like a real country gal.  Even my dearest grandma didn't even use straw, she just used regular ol' string.

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, red bean paste, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap

As I already had a big batch of homemade Grandma's Red Bean Paste in the freezer, I made these Crystal Sago Zong Zi with red bean fillings.  But you could use anything you like, a bit of savory pork, peanuts, lotus paste, salted egg, dried scallop, or even a a bit of siu mei 燒味 or Cantonese style barbecue; the possibilities are endless.  As these are mini sized zong zi, it's easy to fill and your filling will pack a bigger punch.

      


I also had to go with red bean paste because it is my faaaavorite filling for zong zi!  Yum, yum!  Chinese chocolate!

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap

This was the first time I have made mini sized zong zi so I thought I would share a bit on how these tiny beauties are wrapped (see our post on How to Wrap Mini Zong Zi Rice Dumpling).  Not difficult, just a bit different from the normal sized ones and a wee bit harder to tie up because they are smaller.  But it was all good because my little girl loved these Mini Crystal Red Bean Zong Zi, the baby sizes that were, as she put it, just the right size for her!

Happy Duanwu Dragon Boat Festival 端午節 from all of us at The Hong Kong Cookery!

Crystal, Sago, tapioca, boba, Red Bean, Zong Zi, zongzi, 水晶, 紅豆, 粽子, rice dumpling, recipe, mini, how to wrap


Crystal Sago Red Bean Zong Zi  Recipe  水晶紅豆粽子
(around 20 nos mini zong zi)

Ingredients

24 zong zi bamboo leaves and string/straw for tying
1 1/4 cup tapioca pearls, 200g (small to medium size, 1-3mm)
1 tbsp  sugar, 12 g
1 tbsp oil
1 cup red bean paste, 240g

Directions:

Boil dried bamboo leaves in large pot of water for 8-10 mins or until color changes and the leaves are pliable.  Remove from hot water and let continue to soak in cool water.  Throw straw (if using) into hot water left in pot and let soak for a few minutes until pliable.

Boil a pot of enough water to cover tapioca/sago pearls by approx. 2".  When water is boiling, add in pearls.  Let boil for 8 mins.  Turn heat off and let sit covered for 10-15 mins or until the sago is just transparent all the way through.  Be sure to keep an eye on it, you don't want to overcook it.  Run cold tap water over sago to cool off and then drain thoroughly.  Add oil and sugar and mix well.

Prepare red bean paste by rolling into 3/4" balls (around 11-12g).  I like to freeze the red bean paste a bit before this, it makes it much easier to work with.

Wrap and tie the zong zi as per the step by step guide at our post How to Wrap a Mini Zong Zi.  When finished wrapping, boil the zong zi for 15 mins over medium heat.  Remove from heat and let cool 3-5 mins before unwrapping by cutting the ties and removing the bamboo leaf.  If the zong zi sticks to bamboo leaf use a butter knife to gently help it along at any sticky points.  It usually only needs a bit of help to come out.

For any zong zi you are not eating that day, let them cool down to room temperature before storing in fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.  For frozen zong zi, no need to defrost just boil for 15-20 mins.

      


More Zong Zi Recipes at The Hong Kong Cookery:

zong zi rice dumpling recipeZong Zi Rice Dumpling 粽子

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chinese, dragon boat festival, duanwu, recipe, red bean paste, zong zi recipe, zongzi, 粽子, 豆沙粽子, 紅豆沙Grandma's Red Bean Paste 紅豆沙
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