Today is the fifth day of the fifth month in the Lunar Calendar, in which the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated. There are a few different iterations of the origin, but the most common story is about a patriotic poet, Qu Yuan, drowning in a river. His admirers did not want the fish to eat his body, so they raced to him, beating loudly on their drums and threw zhoong into the river to distract them. Zhoong is sticky rice filled with various things like beans, meat, and egg and wrapped in bamboo leaves. In addition to eating zhoong, dragon boat races are still held today. Boats range in size between 40-100 meters, and can have up to 80 rowers!
Now, onto the zhoong! My favorite cousin was so kind and generous to teach my sisters and me how to make these delicious treats. She grew up calling them Chinese hand granades or Chinese tamales! We spent one day learning how to make them, and I came home with 17! My cousin started the process 2 weeks days before our lesson by placing a dozen egg yolks on a bed of salt. Voila! They became preserved by the day of our arrival! These were creamier, softer, and not as salty as preserved duck eggs.
Three days prior to our visit, she boiled the bamboo leaves to loosen up the dirt. She changed the water and allowed them to soak. On the day of the lesson, I was the first to arrive and given the duty of brushing the leaves and rinsing them one last time to prepare them for wrapping around the rice.