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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Duanwu Festival (aka Dragon Boat Festival)



Finally finally finally, the Memorial weekend will be here this weekend!  I am of course beyond excited to have some time off to rest and most importantly to celebrate me and my husband's 3th wedding anniversary.  One of my favorite Chinese holidays is also fall in May too.  Today, I am going to introduce this holiday to you and also the food/dessert we usually have for this special occassion.

Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival and the Double Fifth, is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China and associated with a number of East Asian and Southeast Asian societies. In Mandarin, it is known by the name Duānwǔ Jié; in Hong Kong and Macau, by the Cantonese name Tuen Ng Festival; in Hokkien-speaking areas, by the names Gō͘-go̍eh-cheh/Gō͘-ge̍h-choeh (五月節) and Gō͘-ji̍t-cheh/Gō͘-ji̍t-choeh (五日節). In 2008, it was recognised as a public holiday in mainland China for the first time since the 1940s. The festival has also long been celebrated in Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia. Equivalent and related festivals in Asia include the Kodomo no hi in Japan, Dano in Korea, and Tết Đoan Ngọ in Vietnam.
The festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based. This is the source of the alternative name of Double Fifth. In 2011, this fell on June 6. The focus of the celebrations includes eating the rice dumpling zongzi (Chinese: 粽子; pinyin: zòngzi), drinking realgar wine xionghuangjiu (Chinese: 雄黃酒; pinyin: Xiónghuángjiǔ), and racing dragon boats.

(Source from Wikipedia)
The typical Zongzi -
the savory one on left (the white one) and the sweet one of  right (the yellow one)
OK, enough history, let's talk about food.  Chinese tamales, aka Zongzi are the "official" food for celebrating this holiday.  My grandmother used to make her own back to the days when she was young.  There are savory and sweet tamales - the savory Zongzi usually contains Chinese preserved meat, dried scallope, dried mushroom and meat (usually pork) (pan fried with soy sauce before wrapping).  The sweet one usually made with red bean and dip in white sugar or syrup.  My grandmom only made the savory one at home because the sweet one would take her ever more hours to prepare.  The sweet one also known as alkaline water (kee-chang) tamaples.  Why?  Because there are only two ingredients are used for making this tamale. Glutinous rice and alkaline water. If you want your dumpling to be smooth and springy, you need to be willing to live dangerously for one day a year and add a pinch of borac acid (also called “peng seh“).  I have been living in the states for closed to 12 years; unfortunately, I have never seen this tamale sold at any restaurant or store yet.  I wonder if it is because the borac acid is banned to use in food here.  Anyway, if you are lucky enough to find all the ingrients and would like to make your own, here is the recipe I found online.




Guess what, Starbucks in China just came out a set of Zongzi as their seasonal item this May (see pictures above).  They are a kind of fusion Zonzi mixed with western ingridents and Chinese concept.  Very creative and very pretty dessert, Bravo Starbucks!

(All pictures were found from Google Image)

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