Cooking with Alison

How to Make the Best Chinese Rice Dumplings (Joong)

In Other Asian Foods on January 4, 2014 at am

Cooking with Alison’s Grandma (Part 4 of 4)

‘Joong’ or Chinese rice dumplings have also been called Chinese tamales.  My grandma makes the best joong in the world.  I can’t eat other peoples’ or restaurants’ joong, because nothing comes close to grandma’s joong.  So I was very happy when she agreed to teach me how to make them.  It takes a lot of work and the preparation starts days in advance, but her recipe makes 32 and they can be frozen for future meals.

The first joong that I ever wrapped.

The first joong that I ever wrapped.

This photo was taken after we had already started eating the joong. Note that they don’t come out of the wrapping broken like this.


This is how my grandma sets up her kitchen twine so that she can easily pull out more string as she wraps her joong.

Joong (Chinese Rice Dumpling) Recipe 

makes 32; adapted from Alison’s grandma

5 pounds long grain glutinous rice (‘lo mai fan’)

3 to 4 dried bamboo leaves per joong, so at least 96 total

32 uncooked salted duck/chicken eggs, yolks only (see recipe here)

32 pieces of boneless pork belly with the rind on, approximately 1 1/2 pounds, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices which are then cut into 3/4 inch wide pieces  (Note:  In Chinese, this cut of meat is called ‘five flower meat’ because it should contain 3 layers of fat and 2 layers of meat.)

8 Chinese sausages (lap cheong), cut in half lengthwise and then cut in half crosswise, yielding 32 pieces total

1 1/2 pounds of shelled and peeled raw peanuts

1/2 pound Chinese dried shrimp

vegetable oil

coarse Kosher sea salt

Four days ahead of time, wash the bamboo leaves under cool running water and then boil them until the colour of the leaves turns very green.  Then soak the leaves in water at room temperature for 4 days.  Replace the soaking water with fresh water once a day.  On the day of assembly, use a cloth or paper towel to wipe the leaves clean.

Three days ahead of time, massage a few pinches of salt into the pieces of pork belly.  Keep the salted pork belly in the refrigerator, covered, until the day of assembly.

On the day of assembly:  Place the rice in a very large rice cooker with enough water to reach a level of 1/2 inch above the rice.  Soak the rice for 2 hours and then cook it until soft using the rice cooker.  Meanwhile, wash the dried shrimp under cool running water and then soak it in luke warm water for 1 hour.  Wash the peanuts and soak them in luke warm water in a separate bowl for 1 hour.  Heat a wok over high heat.  Add a few light drizzles of vegetable oil to the wok and then stir fry the drained peanuts with a pinch of salt until heated through.  Dish out and set aside.  Add more vegetable oil to the wok if necessary and then stir fry the dried shrimp until it starts to crisp up.  Dish out and set aside.  Once the rice is finished cooking, dump it out into a large heatproof container and toss in 1 tablespoon of salt.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Meanwhile, rinse the salted pork belly pieces well under cool running water.  Drain, dry off with a paper towel, and then set aside.

To assemble and wrap the joong, see the video here where my grandma demonstrates how to fill and wrap a joong.  Note that you will need kitchen twine.

To cook the joong, place them in a very large stock pot and fill the pot with water so that the joong are at least almost completely covered by the water.  You may need to do this in batches if you do not have a pot that is large enough to hold all 32 of the joong.  Then bring the water to a rolling boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle boil for four hours, covered.  Remove from the hot water and enjoy immediately.  You could serve this with soy sauce and/or hot sauce on the side.  Once the cooked joong has cooled completely, these may be frozen.  Simply defrost completely and then reheat by steaming (see here for How to Steam Cook Food) or by boiling.

  1. Thanks for posting the video of making joong with your grandmother. It appears that she and my family are from the same area in China as our joong and method are identical. My mother was an excellent cook, and I am forever grateful she passed on her recipes to me, and now, to my kids and grandchildren.
    Here are two pictorials of my joong sessions – with my mother, daughter, and will friends and Chinese students from my English class.
    Keep up the great blog!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve made them before as a child, but it’s been a while. Your grandmother is like my mom in many ways. I will actually show the wrap video to my mom.

  3. Going crazy for this post! Haven’t had a joong in 6 years 😦 and can’t make them because none of the ingredients are sold here. Will keep it in Monday when I relocate or someone sends me a care package. Thanks for sharing :))

  4. Mind, not Monday

  5. YES! You CAN find everything on the Internet! Thank you for putting this recipe on it. I was getting so depressed, coz my Mom hasn’t been able to make them for years. We called them Doong, but I was afraid of what I would find. My cousin’s wife, who is Venezuelan, called it a Chinese Tamale, and that’s how I found it. The only difference between this recipe and the way I remember my grandmother and mother making it is that they didn’t precook the rice. I guess they had to boil it longer that way. Now it’s my turn to try.

  6. I was surprised to read that the rice is pre-cooked before wrapping. I do that step when making nor mai gai (sticky rice in lotus leaves which are steamed for 20 minutes), but have not heard of this with the ones in bamboo leaves. If you boil the joong again for 4 hours,what is the texture of the rice like?
    My Mom’s method has been to wrap the raw rice then boiled for 3 hours if using all long grain sticky rice. For packets with half long grain and half short grain, they are boiled for 2.5 hours.
    In Malaysia, my friend makes them per Nonya style (mixture of Malay and Chinese influences) – the rice is cooked in coconut ,milk, wrapped in bamboo leaves,then steamed for 30 minutes..

    I enjoy reading all the interesting differences! So many ways to enjoy joong!

  7. Sorry to beat a dead horse, but are you sure you are supposed to cook the rice first and then boil it again for another 4 hours? I see two complications. One, it would be difficult to stuff the rice into the bamboo leaves if the rice was already fluffy and sticky in addition to putting in the filling, trying to form the shape and tying it up. The other is the consistency of the rice after being double-cooked. I can almost imagine it becoming ‘jook’-like instead of it being ‘lo mai fan’-like. If that’s how it’s done and it’s been working for you, I stand corrected.

  8. Even in the video, the rice looks raw not cooked.

    • Hi Derrick! Yes, that’s right, for my grandma’s recipe, you cook the rice and then boil it after it has been wrapped. The rice is supposed to be very sticky! It becomes soft and mushy, but it doesn’t fall apart, get watery, or resemble ‘jook’.

  9. Derrick Wong: Not sure which post you are referring to. If it’s about mine, then you may have misinterpreted. One kind is using raw rice in bamboo leaves then boiled for 3-4 hours. These are called Joonzi, or doong. The other ones where the rice is pre-cooked are called Leen Jeep Nor-mai Fan or Gai. These are in lotus leaves and STEAMED for 20 – 30 minutes.

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