Vegan Zongzi (Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves)

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Zongzi, my childhood!

I think ever since I was young, I’ve been exposed to these precious foods! They’re usually made from completely sticky, glutinous rice or sweet white rice, and the ones I remember being my favourite had like, lard or something, haha! Well, that was my good old young days.

Yes, that was the rice dumplings you get in CHINA! But here, most of them are either very sweet, with red bean paste or salty, with shiitake mushrooms, meat and peanuts.

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I constantly see them at supermarkets but I just like making my own, because I know what goes in there. Plus, most of the ones have peanuts and I still don’t even know if I’m allergic.

I was also inspired to make this a little sweet with the dried figs I have. I really love the flavours it adds to the rice, without actually adding white sugar to the rice. You can also use dates if you don’t have figs. I decided to add almonds, but peanuts will work great as well!

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I also decided to make a rice bake out of this because I wanted to experiment two ways of cooking the same food. Well, it’s not like a completely different way of cooking but it does taste quite different.

It’s quite easy to burn the bottom of the rice. A suggestion for preventing that is perhaps to soak it a little longer, as it may shorten the cook time. You will always have to check because every stove is different. Mine took about 40 minutes to cook, but that’s because of the brown rice. Other types of rice may not take as long.

You can also try using brown Jasmine rice if you want!

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Vegan Zongzi (Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves)

14 bamboo leaves (ask for Bamboo leaves in the Asian grocery store)

Rice
2 1/2 cup long grain brown rice
1/2 cup glutinous white rice
3 cups homemade vegetable broth (recipe here*) or water

Filling
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight
2 dried figs, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/3 block Tempeh, diced
2 tablespoons roasted almonds or peanuts
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon white cooking wine
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon extra light olive oil

Soak the shiitake mushrooms overnight in water. Before you use it, be sure to drain all the water out thoroughly, then give it a very good rinse.

To make the Rice: Combine the brown rice and glutinous rice in a saucepan with the broth/water and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Bring the rice to a boil which can range from 8-10 minutes, then turn the heat to medium low (3) and simmer for about 40 minutes. Though it may take longer/shorter, so do check and taste the rice to see if it’s cooked.

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To make the Filling: Dice the shiitake mushrooms, dried figs, garlic cloves and tempeh into very small cubes and put them all in a bowl. Mix the roasted almonds or peanuts in and give it a good stir. Then, add the soy sauce, cooking wine, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and sesame oil. Stir until everything is very evenly mixed.

Add a tablespoon of extra light olive oil in the frying pan, then turn the heat to medium high (5). Add everything in the bowl with the shiitake mushrooms in the frying pan and saute for approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit in the frying pan while you wait for the rice to cook.

To make the wrapped Zongzi: Have the rice and filling ready on the table. Soak the bamboo leaves in warm water for about 5 minutes to tenderise it. Have some thick string and a scissors near you as well.

Take two bamboo leaves and look at both sides. One side should be darker than the other. Be sure that the lighter side of the bamboo is facing you. Align the bamboo leaves together and overlap them lengthwise. Move one of the leaves slightly upwards so you have one leaf slightly above the other.

Put one hand on the left, and one hand on the right, about 2/3rds of the way on each side. Bend both sides of the top section of bamboo leaves and fold it over to make something that almost looks like a cone. The bottom is closed, so that you can spoon rice without it falling.

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Add a spoonful or two of rice and use your fingers or a spoon to press it down. Then, add a small spoonful of the shiitake mushroom filling mixture. Add a final spoonful or two of rice on top and once again, press down with your hands. Fold the bottom, then the left and right side, and finally fold the top section downloads to tightly wrap the bamboo leaves in place. Use the string and tightly tie it around, then tie a knot to it.

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Do the same with the other rice dumplings.

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Prepare a steamer and turn the heat on high. Steam the zongzi for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

For the remaining Rice: You will end up with quite a lot of rice and filling, which we’re going to prepare a rice bake for it!

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Add the rice and filling mixture in an oven tray and give it a good mix. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve.

Note: The zongzi does taste quite different from traditional zongzi, because I used mostly brown rice rather than sweet white rice, as I believe brown rice is much healthier. If you really want the full experience, then you may want to substitute the rice. Otherwise, enjoy a much healthier version of rice dumplings in bamboo leaves.

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Vegan Zongzi (Rice Dumplings in Bamboo Leaves)
Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 14 bamboo leaves (ask for Bamboo leaves in the Asian grocery store)
Rice
  • 2½ cup long grain brown rice
  • ½ cup glutinous white rice
  • 3 cups homemade vegetable broth (recipe here*) or water
Filling
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight
  • 2 dried figs, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • ⅓ block Tempeh, diced
  • 2 tablespoons roasted almonds or peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white cooking wine
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra light olive oil

Instructions
  1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms overnight in water. Before you use it, be sure to drain all the water out thoroughly, then give it a very good rinse.
  2. To make the Rice: Combine the brown rice and glutinous rice in a saucepan with the broth/water and let it sit for about 20 minutes. Bring the rice to a boil which can range from 8-10 minutes, then turn the heat to medium low (3) and simmer for about 40 minutes. Though it may take longer/shorter, so do check and taste the rice to see if it’s cooked.
  3. To make the Filling: Dice the shiitake mushrooms, dried figs, garlic cloves and tempeh into very small cubes and put them all in a bowl. Mix the roasted almonds or peanuts in and give it a good stir. Then, add the soy sauce, cooking wine, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and sesame oil. Stir until everything is very evenly mixed.
  4. Add a tablespoon of extra light olive oil in the frying pan, then turn the heat to medium high (5). Add everything in the bowl with the shiitake mushrooms in the frying pan and saute for approximately 8-10 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit in the frying pan while you wait for the rice to cook.
  5. To make the wrapped Zongzi: Have the rice and filling ready on the table. Soak the bamboo leaves in warm water for about 5 minutes to tenderise it. Have some thick string and a scissors near you as well.
  6. Take two bamboo leaves and look at both sides. One side should be darker than the other. Be sure that the lighter side of the bamboo is facing you. Align the bamboo leaves together and overlap them lengthwise. Move one of the leaves slightly upwards so you have one leaf slightly above the other.
  7. Put one hand on the left, and one hand on the right, about ⅔rds of the way on each side. Bend both sides of the top section of bamboo leaves and fold it over to make something that almost looks like a cone. The bottom is closed, so that you can spoon rice without it falling.
  8. Add a spoonful or two of rice and use your fingers or a spoon to press it down. Then, add a small spoonful of the shiitake mushroom filling mixture. Add a final spoonful or two of rice on top and once again, press down with your hands. Fold the bottom, then the left and right side, and finally fold the top section downloads to tightly wrap the bamboo leaves in place. Use the string and tightly tie it around, then tie a knot to it.
  9. Do the same with the other rice dumplings.
  10. Prepare a steamer and turn the heat on high. Steam the zongzi for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  11. For the remaining Rice: You will end up with quite a lot of rice and filling, which we’re going to prepare a rice bake for it!
  12. Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). Add the rice and filling mixture in an oven tray and give it a good mix. Bake for about 30 minutes and serve.
  13. Note: The zongzi does taste quite different from traditional zongzi, because I used mostly brown rice rather than sweet white rice, as I believe brown rice is much healthier. If you really want the full experience, then you may want to substitute the rice. Otherwise, enjoy a much healthier version of rice dumplings in bamboo leaves.

 

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