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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!

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  1. 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.

    1. Those look beautiful--they're so uniform, too. If you have a recipe for it that isn't too long, could you share?

      2 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        Those are about the most expertly folded and precisely tied ones I've seen from a home cook. Some people use a stand, but even those don't turn out so well. That's why i asked for tips.

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          My mom makes them in a pyramid, similiar to how you'd fold parchment paper to make a pastry bag and adds creases. She holds it in her hands as she does it. They're nice but not nearly the same as the pictures CYL posted. Very impressive. I'd love tips on that.

      2. 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.

        2 Replies
        1. re: CYL

          Question - Did you let the brine cool before pouring it over the eggs? SO would truly love these.

          1. re: CYL

            This is the method I use http://www.lilligren.com/homestead/du...

            Great thinly sliced with tomatoes, Filipino style, or in congee. Can also use them in stir-fry dishes, like with bitter melon or si gua (loofah / snake gourd).

          2. 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.

            JOONG RECIPE

            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.

            Wrapping Joong:
            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

            2 Replies
            1. re: CYL

              Hi CYL,

              I am interested in the stainless mold you mentioned. Can you give me the approximate dimensions of it??

              1. re: jgee235

                Base is 3 1/2 inches wide by 5.3 inches long. Height is 3 inches.The joong expands after boiling and so gets a bit bigger.

            2. 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

              1. Re: Recipe and wrapping method, continued and end

                fig 9 - Section of joong
                fig 10 - Cut up tp serve

                1. Correction: Pictures in previous posting did not jive with titles

                  fig 5 - Fill with goodies, wrap sides and ends over base
                  fig 6 - Tie with string and finished
                  fig 7 - Boil joong in stockpot
                  fig 8 - Ready to feed the dragons

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: CYL

                    Thanks for posting all that. Those pictures are helpful. Is the mold made for joong (is that Cantonese? I call them tsang.) specifically? You use far more leaves than my mom does! She uses two per. Maybe that's one reason yours look so well put together.

                  2. Thanks for posting about making joong! Your instructions are an inspiration...now, where can I get a metal joong mold?

                    1. CYL, what an interesting post. My mom used to make these when I was growing up and I know I might be biased, but they were the best! Very tasty. She always said her trick was she added more flavor to her pork bits. Also, she made hers in the cone shape that you do but without a mold. She just did the traditional way of creating a cone shape with her hands by folding two pieces of bamboo leaves to create a cone like an ice cream cone, then she adds the filling and then finally folds the ends of the leaves to cover up and then tie up with strings. She became quite an expert in it.

                      1. Great post CYL and very timely indeed! Our group (ACCT) is holding a joong making class on 6/16! It would be great to find those metal molds here on the mainland - any ideas where or could you get the name of the mfg. and the store they came from in Hawaii?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: RWCFoodie

                          Hi Karen -

                          I am not confident that the stainless steel mold is still available. I got it from from my sister-in-law in Honolulu and it has been years ago, but will write again and inquire. My old wooden mold which I had first was up to the task. They both do equivalent jobs.

                          fig 1 - My old home made wood mold, the original
                          fig 2 - Molds side-by-side, the new mold more matches the stainless steel in my kitchen!

                          1. re: CYL

                            Thanks Charles - any info would be great! A very quick Google search came up empty...

                            1. re: RWCFoodie

                              There is a joong mold referred to in the Hawaiian Electric web site below with a phone number. This might possibly be the mold that my sister-in-law in Honolulu got for me years ago. There is no picture shown of it. I think the web site may be rather old - 1999 vintage.


                              1. re: CYL

                                Thanks - I'll try calling them!

                                1. re: CYL

                                  Got a reply from my sister-in-law in Hawaii. She tells me that June Tong 808-734-1063 was indeed the source of the mold that was sent to me!

                                  1. re: CYL

                                    I just learned that June Tong no longer has any more molds. No sense in troubling her with any more calls..

                          2. This is something I've wondered about for years. Nobody in my family makes them in a pyramid, nor do any of my mother's friends. The shape they all use is hard to describe, but is sort of a rectangle that has a 90-degree twist in it. Mom never made them herself, but I understand that the technique of filling/shaping them uses no molds, and it is entirely hand-held.

                            Could the difference in shape be a regional difference? Mom's family (as well as all the friends) have roots in Toishan.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: ricepad

                              There may be regional differences but I cannot tell you what they are. There are many ways to wrap the tamale and as many different variations on the filling, salting the duck eggs, preparing the leaves, etc.. There is not a single right way or a single wrong way to do it. We Cantonese (I visited the Toishan, Hoi Ping, and Yen Ping ancestral villages on my trip to China) call it a joong. Others call it a Zongzi or Jundzi and others. In all my wanderings in S. F. Chinatown and around the S. F. bay area, I have seen salty joongs of different shapes, but I have seen the pyramidal shape most often. Ironically, when I was first taught how to wrap one, it was with two leaves and the shape was similar to as you described. However, because I have encountered so many other joongs that were pyramidal in shape, when I did decide to make a mold to help me wrap joongs, I built the pyramid with the rectangular solely based on observations and instincts. I wrapped my joongs with four leaves. It just seems, in studying the unwrapping of purchased joongs, that that was what was needed for that size and shape of joong. Later on, my sister-in law told me of a stainless steel mold used in Honolulu and sent me one. By sheer coincidence, the shape and dimensions of my wood mold and the stainless steel one matched one another almost identically! The pyramid is not uncommon. Wei-Chuan’s cook book, (“Chinese Snacks”) shows pictures of her sweet and salty “Jungdz.” They are wrapped by hand with two leaves and look like pyramids with a square base. Grace Young (“The Wisdom Of The Chinese Kitchen”) shows wrapping by hand with two leaves into a “tight pyramid.” Johnny Kan (“Eight Immortal Flavors”) described it as a “pyramid-shaped tamale.” Shapes and wrapping aside, what is most important is what is inside the joong and how good it taste!

                              1. re: CYL

                                Thanks again for all the wonderful info on joong - I can almost taste them now!

                                1. re: CYL

                                  You are right the shape is not important but what is in the Joong itself.

                                  The regional you have roots in will account for the ingreidents you use.

                                  Toishan will use peanuts while those from Chungshan will use Ming beans.

                                  I too have a wooden mold which allows me to make a larger Joong. Since for the most part the size of one's hand use determine the size of Joong.

                                  Some items I like to put into our Joong are

                                  Lop Chong
                                  Salted Side Pork
                                  Dried Shrimp
                                  Dried Scallops
                                  Salted Egg Yolk
                                  MIng Beans
                                  Peanuts (Since my sons like peanuts their Mother used to put into the Joong)
                                  And whatever we have in the house.

                                  Our mold is on the large size and we made a double size Joong. One large enough for two normal size Joong. Love a lot of goodies inside our Joong.

                                  1. re: yimster

                                    Made some joong yesterday with my Mother and sister ..... I missed out on the prep but I'm finally getting the wrapping concept down ...... and I have a better idea about the tieing technique. We do the pyramid shape ...... the shape doesn't really matter on one level but I find it a pleasing shape when skillfully done that adds a little extra enjoyment. I'm boiling them right now - will add pictures when I'm done.

                                    1. re: gordon wing

                                      Gordon, it may help if you are not used to tieing technique a good short cut is to cut three or so shorter strings to tie around the joong to start and hold it shape before you do the major wrapping rotating of the string.

                                      Also when we use to make a lot of joong with ingredients asked for by family we would tie together four joongs with a colored string so that we would know the filling. Small pieces of colored string will not color the water.

                                      Hope to heard about yours. Will have my last one tomorrow night for dinner. Two a year is just prefect for me now. As a family we used be a joong factory not now.

                                      1. re: yimster

                                        Here are some pictures ....... I'm saving the best looking ones for gifts. I didn't put as much rice in as my Mom does ..... was thinking that it might be easier to wrap & tie them if they weren't overfilled. But I think a bit more rice would be good .... my Mother and Grandmother believe that the rice should stay white ...... no dark soy used in flavoring the filling ingredients. Peanuts are soaked so that the skins don't stain the rice, etc ....... The pork we use is a bit lean for my taste but since I'm not doing the prep I am fine with it.......maybe I'll bring over some pork belly next year? the colored string is a good idea, Lambert - I'll remember that for next time.

                                1. I made some joong 2 weekends ago. So much work! and we only did about half a batch, so about 40 joong. I got into a debate with my mother about how much rice we needed to soak to make x amount of joong. We ran low on rice! it was horrible, so our last 10-15 joong had tons of lieu and not so much rice.

                                  Any suggestions about prepping the leaves? I kind of did a mix of 2 methods, soaking the night before of course, and then the next day I just boiled them in hot water. But I found after, when we were boiling the joong the leaves had some strange stuff on it... and the water after we were done boiling the joong was VERY dark so I feel like the leaves weren't super clean.

                                  1. CYL - Thank you so much for this helpful post and all the pics! I'm sincerely intrigued!

                                    1. does anyone know of a dark leaf spice that is mixed with the pork in the joong. it's something my grandmother used . I found a package called "dried seasoning material" but can't read the label to see what it actually is.. I think it is an old fashioned spice used ( not Five Spice)

                                      1. It's almost here again. Dragon Boat Festival 2012 is June 23. I practiced joong wrapping today. I'm not very good at doing this by hand, as you can see by my photo. But they were delicious nonetheless. I'll try to find (or construct) a joong mold such as the one shown in your photos. Thank you for sharing your recipe and technique. This information was very helpful!

                                        PS Found this mold for sale online: http://wokshop.stores.yahoo.net/chtam...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: kbjesq

                                          LOL. they look as "rustic" as mine do! I forget from year to year ..... it takes watching my mother closely for 5 or 10 minutes to get going. I have done some video. but as you say ..... they still taste good!

                                          1. re: gordon wing

                                            I forgot to ask if anyone has experience using fresh bamboo leaves? Can I use them the same way as dried (obviously no need to soak overnight, though, right?) Oddly where I live it is easy to find fresh bamboo leaves but hard to find dried.

                                        2. It's almost time for Dragon Boat Festival 2013 (June 12). Is anyone else making Joong/Zongzi this year? If so, what are your fillings? I ordered a joong mold from The Wok Shop last year and I haven't used it yet. I'm hoping that this year (for once) I'll have pretty joong to share with friends and family. Usually I have fairly misshapen bundles hideously wrapped with an excess of string - hardly gift-worthy. (But very tasty, nonetheless). The joong mold can be seen here: http://www.wokshop.com/HTML/products/...

                                          8 Replies
                                          1. re: MrsPatmore

                                            MrsPatmore: I went to a joong making workshop a week or 2 ago. There were a couple of those molds in use. Some were fairly successful with it, but I believe that those of us forming them with just our hands did ok. As you said, not as pretty but they taste good!

                                            By the way, in this thread there is an extensive tutorial written by CYL that is excellent. As he has passed on, this post is irreplaceable (to me anyway).

                                            For me, the filling includes (I get little carried away:
                                            Rice (of course, we use short grain like Kokuho Rose)
                                            Salted egg yolk (duck or chicken)
                                            Lop cheung
                                            Salted or five spice pork belly chunks
                                            Split yellow mung beans
                                            Raw peanuts
                                            Shitake slices (dry, reconstituted)
                                            Cooked chestnuts

                                            P.S. If anyone has tried processing them in a pressure cooker, I'd love to hear what you did... Tks

                                            1. re: RWCFoodie

                                              I would not recommend using short grain or a medium grain rice such as Kokuho Rose. You need to use glutinous rice for the body to hold together and to have the chewy, dense texture. I have heard that some producers mix in some non-glutinous rice in order to hold down costs, but I'd consider that adulteration.

                                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                MW: Tks for the correction: I could have sworn she used regular short grain but I just double checked & she said sticky rice (I know better but was working from a slightly addle-brained memory).

                                              2. re: RWCFoodie

                                                I use a 16qt pressure cooker. It cuts the cooking time in half. 2 hours instead of 4.

                                                1. re: jgee235

                                                  jgee235: Thanks - did you put them on a rack? Add water and if so, how much?

                                                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                                                    No. No need for a rack. Add enough water to cover the joong 1-2 inches. Also leave about 2-3 inches from the top of the pot. Be very careful, if you haven't cooked with a pressure cooker before. You must release the pressure before opening the pot.

                                                2. re: RWCFoodie

                                                  I'm envious that you were able to attend such a workshop, RWC! Like you, I prefer a lot of goodies inside the joong, and my ingredient list is similar to yours (however, I use glutinous rice not regular short grain). I have not tried a pressure cooker but based on the comments of others (below), I may try it this year!

                                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                    Ask this question on this board next May and see who is offering a class. The one RWCFoodie attended should be available again. It is normally a yearly thing.