The ULTIMATE Chinese Food Tour: Rice dumplings in Jiaxing
Updated 21:12, 25-Oct-2019
By Matthew Arrington Watson

Wrapped in bamboo leaves and stuffed with glutinous rice and other fillings, rice dumplings, or zongzi, are an inseparable part of the annual Dragon Boat Festival. But what I didn't know, is that they're made year-round.

Hu Jianmin, the inheritor of the zongzi craft at Wu Fang Zhai — a famous brand in Jiaxing, east China's Zhejiang Province, showed me the process step-by-step.

Mirroring the wrapping technique of inheritor Hu Jianmin. /CGTN Photo

Mirroring the wrapping technique of inheritor Hu Jianmin. /CGTN Photo

The leaves are folded into a cone, filled with glutinous rice, and in this case two slices of pork and one slice of fat (but the possibilities are endless), shaped into a triangle, closed with the leaves, and then sealed tightly in a dizzying whirl of string.

The zongzi is flipped, twisted and spun like a Rubik's Cube before the finished product is ready.

Rice dumplings ready for sale. /CGTN Photo

Rice dumplings ready for sale. /CGTN Photo

While Hu is experienced enough to perform the maneuver in his sleep, and still produce a tightly bound dumpling, I found it to be quite a challenge.

The finished zongzi should have proportionate dimensions, sharp corners and a consistent weight.

All of this is done without machinery, just the feel of the hands and years of practice and tradition as a guide.

Reporter: Matthew Arrington Watson

Scriptwriters: Matthew Arrington Watson, Wu Yan

Editor: Wu Yan

Copy editor: Henry Weimin

Chief editor: Chen Ran

Cover image designer: Du Chenxin

Executive producer: Zhang Xiaohe

Producer: Si Nan

Supervisor: Zhang Shilei