Thursday, January 23, 2014

Hong Kong Zongzi

three zongzi (粽子) hanging at a Hong Kong take out restaurant

I saw the above zongzi hanging at a takeaway restaurant in Kowloon, Hong Kong, not far from the King George V Memorial Park. As Amy Ma wrote in The Wall Street Journal:
All zongzi features a bamboo-leaf wrapping and is trussed with twine or thin seaweed leaves before it is boiled or steamed until the contents are tender and fully cooked. The shape of the bundle and what's inside – aside from the requisite sticky rice – varies and is often a clue to its geographic origins.
I've tried zongzi in many parts of China. If not labeled, their contents can be a mystery, and I sometimes buy them without even asking what's inside. Sometimes the mystery at least partly remains even after I finish eating one. Ma shared the favorite ingredient of a co-founder of a Hong Kong restaurant-review book:
Mr. Fung's weakness is for the glistening globule of fat. "It's like a nugget of treasure that you unearth in the center. The fattier the better," he says, adding that the perfect texture of rice is "QQ," a popular Taiwanese expression for chewy or al dente.
To the possible horror of Mr. Fung and some other zongzi connoisseurs, the more health conscious portions of my brain have caused me at times to set aside those glistening globules of fat. In a Seinfeld-ish scene, I can imagine Mr. Fung seeing me do this and him declaring "no more zongzi for you!"

Mr. Fung might be more accommodating though. Whatever the case, fortunately, the world of zongzi remains open to me, and I look forward to new surprises. For more about the history and great variety of zongzi plus some recommendations for where in Hong Kong to try them, see Ma's article here.

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