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.
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
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.