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Treats fit for a dragon

By Ye Jun | China Daily | Updated: 2014-05-24 09:33

Treats fit for a dragon

Celebrity gourmet Han Ping arranges her zongzi in the boiler in a circle so that water can spread evenly. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Her secrets include buying this year's rice to make the dumplings. You can't tie the zongzi too tight, she says.

She arranges them in the boiler in a circle so that boiled water can spread evenly. She does not store zongzi in a refrigerator, but in a cooker with cool water. Although they are good for three days, they have the best al dente texture within seven or eight hours.

Another trick to make them taste even better: add a little soda powder to the mixture.

In southern China, people make a special alkali rice dumpling, according to Han, which can make the rice dumplings look temptingly yellowish and semi-transparent. Since cooks in the south always fry dishes with pork oil, which brings a lot of acid into the body, the alkali creates a healthy balance, she says.

Chinese people eat rice dumplings during the festival in memory of Qu Yuan, a poet and politician from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). Qu drowned himself in sacrifice to his mother country. Local people tried to retrieve his corpse.

When they failed, they made zongzi to throw into the river, hoping the fish and shrimp would eat the dumplings and not his body.

Since then, the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar is celebrated as the Dragon Boat Festival. People hold boat races and prepare zongzi in memory of Qu's righteousness and his beautiful poems.

People also hang mugwort leaves at their door, and wear fragrant herb sachets for luck.

In northern China, jujube and mashed red bean are the most popular stuffings for the rice dumplings. But in South China, people also use pork, ham and salted egg yolk.

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