Chinese zongzi is made not only using glutinous rice, but also with millet. Glutinous millet zongzi can be used to make sweet or savory zongzi. Traditional Chinese sticky rice dumplings/zongzi are usually made with glutinous rice/sticky rice/sweet rice. Millet has been consumed worldwide, especially in Asia, Africa, and Europe for thousands of years. This ancient grain is pretty commonly cooked in Asia.
There are so many different kinds of millet in the world. You can use any type you can get. For making zongzi, ideally, if you can get glutinous millet is the best. Please note that the term glutinous means sticky, not referring to gluten. Glutinous millet turns sticky after being cooked, similar to glutinous rice which also turns sticky after cooking. I use foxtail millet, because that’s all I can get here. Millet, surprisingly, is not a very popular grain here in the U.S. Since millet is a “harder” grain, I decided to soak both the glutinous rice and millet even though I use a pressure cooker. I feel that the millet grains are fluffier when I soak them before cooking.
1. Using all millet I have tried making the zongzi using only millet (foxtail millet in my case), and the grains don’t stick together and have a tendency of falling apart at certain spots. Perhaps if you use glutinous millet, it can be done using glutinous millet only since it is sticky in nature 2. 50/50 This is the ratio I use in this recipe 50% glutinous rice and 50% millet. The glutinous rice helps to keep things “glued” together and the zongzi has a softer texture too. I suggest keeping the amount of millet grain equal to or less than the glutinous rice to get a good result.
You can refer to these step-by-step photos here on how to wrap zongzi. You can also refer to the video pop-up to learn how to wrap zongzi using bamboo leaves.
Savory: you can use vegetarian filling, meat filling, Nyonya sweet and savory filling Sweet: Sweet red bean paste is the most common one. But you can also use mung bean paste, taro paste if you prefer
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Soak the grains: 4 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 12 dumplings
Whether you are using pressure cooker or boiling on the stove, soak millet and glutinous rice together for at least 4 hours or overnight. Drain off the water after that. Combine and mix the two grains together evenly
Soak the bamboo leaves in water and then discard the water and wipe the leaves dry with clean cloth the next day when you are ready to use them
After soaking the grains, drain all water. Preheat a large wok or skillet. Add cooking oil. Stir fry garlic until really fragrant. Add the soaked graines followed by all the seasonings. Stir fry the grain until they pick up all the seasonings. Remove from the heat and let them cool down before using it to wrap
Portion out the filling. I used red bean paste and I use about 40 grams of filling per dumpling. You can go straight to wrapping
Get the grains and the filling. You will need about 2 leaves, stacking on top of each other. If you have ragged leaves, you can use another leaf to cover by overlapping them so there won't be any leakage. Make sure the smooth side of the leaves are facing you
Fold into a cone shape. Fill it up with about 2 Tbsp of grains and use the back of the spoon to pack it in and slightly create an indentation in the middle for the filling . Then add the filling. Top again with more grains, filling up almost 3/4 of the cone. Make sure you really pack it down so the dumpling will be nice and tight later
Fold one side down. Fold the opposite site down. Most people don't fold the two sides and go straight to folding the top part down (as shown in the next step). But I feel like this helps me to wrap "neater" and shows the triangle shape better
Fold the top part down. Fold in both sides. You'll have this extra piece on top now. Simply fold it down to either one of the side
Tie with a string. Repeat with the rest of the filling and grains
Fill up the inner pot halfway with water. Press saute and bring water to a boil. For savory zongzi, add 1/2 tsp of salt. Place the zongzi in the inner pot of instant pot. I can cook 12-14 dumplings in my 6-quart instant pot. Top up with more water to make sure it covers the zongzi if necessary
Cover the lid. Turn the steam release valve to seal. Press "pressure cooker" and make sure it's on "high pressure". Set the timer to 50 minutes. Release pressure immediately after that
Carefully open the lid and use a tong to gently remove the zongzi from the pot to a cooling rack. Let the water drips down. The zongzi will still be soft to touch. I recommend waiting 24 hours before eating them
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. For savory zongzi, add 1/2 tsp of salt. Place the zongzi in a large pot. Bring it back to a boil and then cover and lower the heat to let it gently boil for the next 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If your zongzi is large in size you may need 3 hours or so. At the end of cooking time, you can take one out to see if it's cooked through. If the rice doesn't stick to the leaves and doesn't fall apart and the rice holds together nicely. It's done. If the rice falls apart, you need to boil them longer
Carefully use a tong to gently remove the zongzi from the pot to a cooling rack to let it cool down for 24 hours before eating them. They will still be soft to touch, but will firm up once they are cooled down completely
If you have leftovers, you can freeze the zongzi in the freezer and it's good for 6 months. When ready to eat them, you don't thaw them. They can go straight from the freezer to the steamer with boiling water and steam for about 10 minutes on high heat or until heated through or you can reheat them in a microwave on high on 1 minute increment until heated through