Recipe courtesy of LuckyRice founder Danielle Chang

Grandma Hsiang’s Chinese tamales 

Filling ingredients

  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes

Zongzi ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked sweet glutinous rice
  • 24 dried bamboo leaves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 shallots, sliced
  • 12 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced


  1. In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, cinnamon stick, star anise, and five-spice powder. Add the pork belly and stir well. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight.
  2. Put the glutinous rice in a large bowl and add cold water to cover. Let it stand at room temperature, covered, for as long as 2 hours. Rinse the bamboo leaves and soak them in a bowl of hot water for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside. Drain the rice and return the grains to the bowl. Add the soy sauce and stir to combine. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the shallots and mushrooms, and fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened and lightly colored.
  3. Assemble The Zongzi: Place 2 bamboo leaves, overlapping, on a clean surface to make a 5-inch-wide piece. Fold 2 to 3 inches of the stem inward to form a straight edge. Cup the rectangular end in your hand, and place 1 tablespoon of the rice in the “cup.” Spread the rice out about 3 inches toward the leaf tip.
  4. Remove the meat from the marinade. Place 2 pieces of meat directly on top of the rice, and add 1 tablespoon of the shallot-mushroom mixture. Spread 2 tablespoons of the rice over the meat so it is completely enveloped by the rice. Bring the other side of the leaf over the rice-filled cup to enclose it. Wrap a 2-foot-long piece of kitchen twine several times around the middle of each zongzi, tying it off with a knot, so the rice won’t escape during the cooking process. Repeat with the remaining bamboo leaves, rice, and filling.
  5. Place all the zongzi in a large pot, and add water to cover by 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to low and cook the zongzi for 3 hours. (Make sure there is enough water to cover the zongzi at all times, adding more as necessary.) Transfer the cooked zongzi to a plate and let them cool slightly.
  6. When you are ready to eat, cut off the string, unfold, and dig in! The cooked zongzi can be kept in the refrigerator for a week, or frozen for months. Simply thaw the zongzi if they are frozen, and steam them for about 10 minutes or until heated through.