It’s that time again! The Dragon Boat Festival, on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar is coming up soon (June 19 on the Gregorian calendar for 2007). Got some fresh duck eggs at the farmer’s market about 8 weeks ago to salt. Beats buying salted eggs which has not been very reliable; quite a few of mine had double yolks!
I am making Joong/Zonzi (Chinese sweet rice tamale), the traditional festival food, in observance of the holiday. There are many variations, but I make a pyramidal shaped tamale with salted duck egg yolks, salt pork, Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, mung and black-eye beans, chestnuts, peanuts, and mushroom filling. Keeps in refrig for weeks and frozen for months. I am ready to feed the two-legged dragons!
Hi CYL, could you talk more about making salted duck eggs? I have a vague childhood recollection of instructions along the lines of adding salt to the brine until a potato floats. Perhaps you have a more precise recipe.
Also, it might be instructive to describe how to wrap and fold the leaves to make the pyramid shaped joong.
Re: salting eggs -
I do not have any big secret or exacting technique as to brining eggs. I can appreciate that there are many variables. Let me simply start telling what I did. The concentration of salt I use was 1 pound of table salt to 6 cups of water. I boiled the water, put in the salt until it is dissolved. I had a dozen duck eggs and they were big – almost about twice the size of a chicken egg. I used an old mayonnaise glass jar. I put the eggs in and added all the solution to the jar. I think there was still ullage left on the top of the jar. About a month later, I took one egg out, and tested it by making steamed salt egg pork patty. It was good, so I concluded that the eggs were adequately done. Assuming that I could not do any harm to the eggs, I left the eggs in the brine longer until now, about two month’s time total. I waited until it was close enough time to make Joong for the Dragon Boat Festival. Again, the salted eggs seem to be good.
The old trick to test for when the salt solution concentration is not initially too low is to add a raw potato and test for flotation. If the potato does not float, one is suppose to add more salt until the potato does floats. I did not take the effort to apply the test.
I did not mess around with volumetric amounts of salt or used kosher salt or rock salt or any other form of salt, realizing that their densities were lower due to larger crystal sizes. The mayonnaise jar (gallon plus?) has a fixed volume. I made a fixed amount of solution. The volume occupied by the eggs took up an additional volume. The size of the jar seemed compatible in allowing me to pour the entire 6 cup brine solution into it. Does the amount of the solution in comparison to the volume of eggs make a difference? What about soaking time? Does the action of salting works fast initially and then slows down? It would seem logical that a longer soaking would really gets diminishing returns towards the end. In the home, one practically salts about a dozen eggs at one time and does it in about a gallon size jar or crock. The eggs are soaking for about one month. The concentration of 1 pound of salt to 6 cups of water apparently did the trick for me without the potato test. The process of salting eggs likely has a wide tolerance and is a somewhat forgiving procedure.
Re: Recipe and wrapping method
I have a WORD file of the recipe containing 10 pictures. I cannot post it in one posting, so I will post it piecemeal. I can apparently only post four pictures at a time.
I stated making joong via the cone-shaped funnel entirely by hand. The joongs that I used to buy are pyramidal in shape. I got the idea of making a mold out of wood some time ago. I have gone thru molds mod 1, 2, and 3. My latest mold, mod 3, a stainless steel stamped mold, came via my sister-in-law in Honolulu is very nice. I have however not seen one like it elsewhere locally. My old wooden mold that I made does do the same job.
The following recipe makes 10 joongs:
2 1/2 lbs Nor Mai (glutinous, sweet rice)
1 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 tbsp Salt
1/2-3/4 lb Salt pork or belly pork, brined
40 Bamboo leaves (4 leaves/joong)
Do not try to use leaves with splits – discard!
Per Joong Total
4 Slices Dried Shitake Mushroom 40
3 Chestnuts 30
12 Peanuts 120
3 tsp Mung beans 30 tsp
1 tsp Black eye beans 10 tsp
2/3 Lop Cheong (cut into 1/3 lengths) 6-7
1 Salted duck eggs 10
1 1/2 tsp Dried shrimp 15 tsp
1 piece Salt pork (cut approx 2” x 1”) 10 pieces
Preparations before wrapping Joong:
Fill a large stockpot with water. Add 1 tsp of baking powder or 1/4 cup of vinegar. Add bamboo leaves and bring to a boil. Let boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool. Brush each leaf softly with brush to clean. Rinse thoroughly. Return leaves to pot, fill with water, and boil for another 5 minutes. Drain. Fill pot with clean water and allow leaves to soak until time to wrapping joong.
Wash rice thoroughly and cover with 2 – 3 inches of water. Soak overnight. Drain well. Add vegetable oil and salt to rice and mix thoroughly.
Place peanuts, mung beans, black eye peas, mushrooms, and dried shrimp in a separate bowl, add water, wash, and soak in new water overnight.
Salt pork pieces can be made from belly pork. Remove the skin. Soak pork in brine solution consisting of dissolving 1/4 cup of table salt to one quart (4 cups) of water overnight. Rinse pork after soaking prior to use.
Use a joong mold to assemble and wrap joong.Lay two leaves longitudinally along the sides of the mold slightly off the apex. Make sure the leaves overflow the sides of the mold enough to allow wrapping the leaves inward and over the back later. Next, fold two bamboo leaves into the apex of the mold (fold ends of leaves together in half; fold corner of base from the center at 45 degrees to form cone of pyramid – see figure 4).
fig 1 - Ingredients for filling
fig 2 - Pyramidal stainless steel mold
fig 3 - Set 2 leaves forming sides
fig 4 - Add 2 leaves forming top of joong
Re: Recipe and wrapping method, continued
Proceed to place ingredients into mold. When ingredients are in and just slightly above the level of the mold, fold leaves from the sides to wrap tightly over the base of the joong followed by folding the ends of the leaves tightly over the base. Push down on the base to make sure all ingredients fill into the mold solidly with no voids. Turn mold upside down and push down firmly on joong flat against tabletop, again to make sure that the ingredients are packed solidly into the pyramidal shape. Make several loops with string on one end, run diagonally on the base to the other end. Make several loops on the other end and run a cris-crossing diagonal back to the original end. Make one loop and repeat diagonals cris-crossing the base a couple of times and tie knot to secure – not too tight, joong expands when boiled later.
Place joongs in large stock pot or canner, fill with water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 4 hours. Check frequently and add more water to continue simmering, as necessary.
fig 5 - Fill with goodies, wrap sides and ends over base
fig 6 - Tie with string to secure joong and done
fig 7 - Boil joong in stockpot
fig 8 - Ready to feed the dragons