Delicious Chinese Rice “Tamales” Recipe

Are you ready to try a unique twist on traditional tamales? Look no further than this Chinese Rice “Tamales” recipe, also known as zongzi Chinese sticky rice dumplings. These delicious and savory rice dumplings are enjoyed during the Dragon Boat Festival in China and Taiwan, but they can be enjoyed any time of year.

Wrapped in bamboo leaves or banana leaf, these dumplings are filled with glutinous rice, dried chestnuts, and your choice of filling – such as pork belly, shiitake mushrooms, mung beans, and Chinese sausage. Seasoned with Chinese five spice powder and salt, these flavorful dumplings are sure to become a new favorite in your cooking repertoire.

Not only is this recipe delicious, it is also a fun and unique way to explore different cultures through food. With these Chinese Rice “Tamales,” you can bring a taste of China into your own kitchen and share it with friends and family. So don’t hesitate to give this recipe a try – your taste buds will thank you!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Chinese Rice
Chinese Rice ” Tamales”

This isn’t your typical rice dish. This Chinese Rice “Tamales” recipe is a unique and flavorful experience that will have you reaching for seconds, thirds, and possibly even fourths. Trust us; it’s that good.

Are you looking for something new to add to your recipe collection? Or maybe you want to impress your friends and family with an authentic and delicious Chinese dish? This recipe is perfect for both scenarios. Not to mention, the dish is not only tasty but visually stunning as well.

Using ingredients such as glutinous rice, dried chestnuts, shiitake mushrooms, and pork belly, this recipe will bring a rich depth of flavor to your taste buds. Let’s not forget about the aromatic Chinese five spice powder, a staple in Chinese cuisine known for its warm and complex blend of spices.

But what really sets this recipe apart is the method of cooking. These sticky rice dumplings are traditionally wrapped in dried bamboo or banana leaves and boiled until cooked to perfection. The result is a tender and sticky texture that pairs perfectly with the savory filling.

Whether you’re celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival or looking to try something new, this Chinese Rice “Tamales” recipe will surely exceed your expectations. Don’t wait any longer; give it a try today!

Ingredient List

 Soft and savory, this Chinese Rice
Soft and savory, this Chinese Rice “Tamales” recipe is the perfect fusion dish.

Ingredients you need for Chinese Rice “Tamales” Recipe

For this Chinese Rice “Tamales” Recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Glutinous rice: Also known as sticky rice or sweet rice, is the type of rice used in this recipe. It has a sticky texture and sweet flavor that perfectly complements the other ingredients. Use about 2-3 cups of uncooked short-grain glutinous rice.

  • Dried bamboo leaves: You will need around 15 dried bamboo leaves to wrap the rice dumplings.

  • Pork belly: Pork gives a savory taste to the Chinese Tamales. Get about 1 lb of skinless pork belly and cut it into small cubes.

  • Shiitake mushrooms: Shiitake mushrooms are popular in Asian cuisine as they add earthy flavors. You can use dried or fresh ones, but make sure to soak dried mushrooms before using them. Using around 10-12 mushrooms would be enough.

  • Chinese sausage: You can also use lap cheong, the famous Chinese sausage, to give a salty and sweet taste to your dish. Get one or two pieces of sausages from any Asian store.

  • Dried chestnuts and mung beans: These are also traditional ingredients for making zongzi (aka Chinese Tamales). You can use around half a cup of each ingredient.

  • Seasonings: A mix of soy sauce, oyster sauce, Chinese five-spice powder, and salt is used for seasoning. About one teaspoon of each seasoning will be enough.

With these ingredients, you’ll be able to make delicious Cantonese-style zongzi that everyone would love!

The Recipe How-To

 Meet the delicious love child of Chinese and Latin American cuisine.
Meet the delicious love child of Chinese and Latin American cuisine.

Step 1: Preparing the Rice

  • Ingredients needed:

    • 3 cups of uncooked glutinous rice (sticky rice)
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 3 pcs of dried bamboo leaves
  • Soak the glutinous rice in cold water for at least 6 hours or overnight.

  • Drain and rinse the soaked glutinous rice before adding 1 tsp of salt. Mix well.
  • Boil the dried bamboo leaves in a large pot of water until they become soft and pliable.
  • Carefully remove the dried bamboo leaves from the pot using tongs and rinse them with cold water to remove excess dirt and impurities.

Tip: To soften the leaves, you can also soak them in hot water for an hour instead of boiling.

Step 2: Preparing the Filling

  • Ingredients needed:

    • 1 lb pork belly, cut into small cubes
    • 1/2 cup dried chestnuts, soaked in hot water for at least an hour
    • 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for at least an hour
    • 2 Chinese sausages (lop cheong), sliced thinly
    • 1/2 cup mung beans, soaked in cold water for at least an hour
  • In a pan, sautee the sliced Chinese sausages and pork belly.

  • Once browned, add the drained dried chestnuts, washed shiitake mushrooms, and washed mung beans into the pan.
  • Add Chinese five spice powder sparingly to season and mix well.
  • Cook for a few more minutes and let it cool.

Tip: You can substitute pork belly with other types of meat or go vegan by using mushrooms, chestnuts, and vegetables as a filling.

Step 3: Wrapping the Rice Dumplings (Zongzi)

  1. Spread out two soaked dried bamboo leaves and overlap them halfway.
  2. Scoop a spoonful of the soaked glutinous rice onto the middle of the two leaves and flatten it out.
  3. Add a spoonful of the filling into the center of the rice.
  4. Add another spoonful of rice over the filling.
  5. Fold in the two sides of the bamboo leaves, then fold up from the bottom.
  6. Tie it tightly with kitchen twine to prevent leaking.
  7. Repeat until all rice dumplings are wrapped.

Tips: Use banana leaves if you can’t find dried bamboo leaves or opt for a smaller serving size by using just one leaf.

Step 4: Steaming the Rice Dumplings

  1. In a large pot, place a metal rack at the bottom to create an elevated platform.
  2. Fill with water until

Substitutions and Variations

 Nothing beats a comforting and filling homemade tamale, but have you ever tried one made with rice?
Nothing beats a comforting and filling homemade tamale, but have you ever tried one made with rice?

If you’re feeling experimental, these Chinese Rice “Tamales” are versatile enough to allow for substitutions and variations in ingredients. Below are some alternatives that can help you customize the recipe to your liking.

– Shrimp: Are you a seafood lover? Replace the pork belly with fresh, succulent shrimp for a light and tangy tasting “tamales”.

– Chicken: Exchange pork belly with boneless chicken breast diced in small cubes to create a healthy yet flavoursome dish that nonetheless requires five-spice powder.

– Vegetarian: If you’re a veggie-lover, swap the pork and mung bean filling with vegetables of your choice, such as shiitake mushrooms, carrots, coconut milk or cabbage for vegetarian-friendly dumplings whilst keeping the original flavour smokey yet sweet.

– Banana Leaf Wrapping: Traditionally, these rice dumplings are wrapped in bamboo leaves. However, for additional fragrance and flavour profile, opt for banana leaves instead.

– Cantonese Style: There are many regional variations of Chinese Rice “Tamales,” and each has its unique flavour. Cantonese-style zongzi usually contains fewer ingredients than other varieties so if you like simple flavours Cantonese style could be perfect for you.

– Vegan Version: Want to make this dish vegan? Choose to replace meat with more bamboo sticks or top it off with more whole nuts/beans like walnuts or chickpeas while still achieving the savoury taste of the typical recipe.

Whatever variation you choose, make sure to adjust cooking times accordingly based on your modifications for perfect results while experimenting with new twists on this traditional dish.

Serving and Pairing

 Not your traditional masa-based tamale, but equally tasty and easy to make.
Not your traditional masa-based tamale, but equally tasty and easy to make.

Once your Chinese rice “tamales” are cooked, they are best served warm. I love eating them on their own as a snack or as a light lunch paired with a side of steamed vegetables like bok choy or snap peas.

For a heartier meal, these rice dumplings can also be served alongside lightly fried tofu, stir-fried mushrooms or sautéed meat. The dumplings also pair well with Chinese-style sauces such as hoisin sauce, soy sauce or sweet chili sauce.

If you’re hosting a special event or celebration, serving these tamales zongzi style can make for an impressive and authentic presentation. Keep them neatly wrapped in their bamboo leaves and serve them in a large platter, allowing guests to unwrap and enjoy the flavors inside.

No matter how you choose to serve them, these Chinese rice “tamales” are sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any occasion.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 These little packets of flavor will make your taste buds dance with joy.
These little packets of flavor will make your taste buds dance with joy.

Once you’ve made these Chinese rice “tamales,” they can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. To store, wrap the zongzi (sticky rice dumplings) in plastic wrap or an airtight container and store them in the fridge.

To reheat your zongzi, remove the plastic wrap and place them in a steamer basket. Steam for about 10 minutes until heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the microwave on a microwave-safe plate for about 2 minutes.

If you plan to make the zongzi ahead of time, they can also be frozen for up to three months. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag before freezing.

When reheating frozen zongzi, let them thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating using one of the above methods.

It’s important to note that while these Chinese rice “tamales” can be stored and reheated, they’re best enjoyed fresh. So if possible, it’s recommended that you eat them within a day or two of making them.

Tips for Perfect Results

 Looking for a new recipe to impress your family and friends? Look no further!
Looking for a new recipe to impress your family and friends? Look no further!

When making Chinese Rice “Tamales” or Zongzi, getting the perfect texture and taste can be a bit tricky, but with a few tips, you can create a delicious and satisfying dish. Here are some essential tips that will help you achieve your desired results:

1. Soak Your Ingredients

The first step that will help you achieve perfect Zongzi is to soak the sticky rice and dried chestnuts overnight. This ensures that they are fully hydrated and cook evenly.

2. Season Your Sticky Rice

When making Chinese Rice “Tamales,” adding Chinese five-spice powder and salt to the sticky rice before cooking provides a subtle flavor that enhances the taste of the dish.

3. Wrap Your Zongzi Tightly

Properly wrapping your Zongzi is crucial for getting good results. Use a large enough piece of bamboo leaf or banana leaf to encase your ingredients tightly. It would be best if you also tied up each bundle carefully so that nothing leaks out during cooking.

4. Use Good-Quality Ingredients

To make delicious Zongzi, it’s essential to use good-quality glutinous rice, dried chestnuts, and pork belly or Chinese sausage. The better the quality of your ingredients, the better the final dish will taste.

5. Cook Thoroughly

When cooking your Zongzi, ensure they are fully submerged in boiling water, this helps them cook evenly. Also, remember to give your Zongzi enough time to steam fully as this helps soften the ingredients inside.

These tips will ensure that your Chinese Rice “Tamales” come out perfectly every time you make them. With these tips in mind, feel free to experiment with different flavor combinations and variations until you find one that works best for you!

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Chinese Rice “Tamales” recipe is a delicious and unique dish that is sure to impress anyone who tastes it. Packed with flavor from the Chinese five spice powder and salt, and textural elements from the dried chestnuts, glutinous rice, and other ingredients, this dish is a must-try for any fan of Chinese cuisine. Additionally, its versatility allows for a range of substitutions and variations to be made to accommodate dietary restrictions or individual preferences.

Whether you’re celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival or just looking for a new dish to add to your rotation, this recipe is an excellent choice. With simple instructions and helpful tips included in the article, anyone can learn how to make these delicious sticky rice dumplings right at home. So go ahead and give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

Chinese Rice " Tamales"

Chinese Rice ” Tamales” Recipe

A traditional Chinese food
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 4 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Chinese
Calories 547.8 kcal


  • 5 cups glutinous rice
  • 1/2 lb dried mung beans
  • 20 dried chestnuts
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
  • 10 dried black mushrooms, soaked with stems removed and caps sliced
  • 20 bamboo leaves
  • 1/2 lb pork belly, sliced


  • Pour enough warm water over the glutinous rice, mung beans and chestnuts in separate bowls to cover them completely. Soak overnight. Drain the three ingredients and combine them in one large bowl. Add the salt and five-spice and stir to coat.
  • Pour enough warm water over the mushrooms in a large bowl to cover them completely. Let soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Drain. Discard the stems and slice the caps thinly.
  • Pour enough water over the bamboo leaves in a large pot to cover them completely. Bring to a boil, then remove the pot from the heat, let cool slightly and drain. Pat the leaves dry and set them aside.
  • Make the tamales: Place two bamboo leaves, over lapping each other halfway on the work surface. Place a 1/3-cup of the rice mixture in the center. Top with a slice of pork and 3 to 4 slices of mushroom. Cover with about 2 tablespoons of the rice and mung bean mixture. Fold the leaves over the stuffing to enclose it completely, then tie package closed with kitchen string.
  • Place tamales in a large pot, pour in enough water to cover them, and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the water is simmering and cook until the tamale filling feels tender when you squeeze it gently, 4 to 5 hours. Replenish the water in the pot as necessary to keep the tamales covered during cooking. Drain and serve warm.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 143gCalories: 547.8kcalCarbohydrates: 91.7gProtein: 14.5gFat: 12.9gSaturated Fat: 4.5gCholesterol: 16.3mgSodium: 720.5mgFiber: 7.2gSugar: 0.8g
Keyword Asian, Chinese
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Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.