Crystal zhongzi 水晶粽子

水晶 shui jing  = water crystal
粽子 zhongzi  = leaf wrapped dumpling

Here is another unusual zhongzi. The recipe is based on Thai tapioca dumplings, Sawku Sai Muu. The pastry dough is made with tapioca pearls. They are called crystal zhongzi because the pastry is translucent.  The pastry is very soft, bouncy, rubbery and chewy. I really like the texture. The filling is delicious and spicy enough to give the right kick.  They look more crystal clear when hot – warm. Once cooled the pastry is more opaque, but still very soft and more bouncy.

This recipe makes about 18 – 19 small dumplings.

450 – 500g tapioca pearls
1.5 tsp salt
2 tbsp fried shallot or fried garlic oil
about 1litre cold tap water

Dissolve salt in water, add tapioca. Leave it to soak for about 15 minutes. Take a grain or two and rub between your fingers. If the tapioca can be crushed to a paste it is ready to drain thoroughly through a sieve. After draining lightly mix in the oil.

180g pork shoulder steak or other pork steak/ or you can minced/ground pork
2 – 3 tsp nam prik pao  (Thai chilli paste)
1.5 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar

Cut pork into very tiny pieces. Add remaining ingredients and leave to marinate for about 1 hour.

50g preserved radish/ chai bo
25g dried shrimps
1 heap tbsp chopped medium hot red chillies, about 1 large or 2 medium chillies
2 – 3 cloves garlic
1 small carrot
1 chunk of jicama or daikon/mooli (about 125 – 150g), if not available use salad radish or more carrot, water chestnut is also very good
about 15g dried shitake mushroom
cooking oil
slackened cornflour. 1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch mix with 1/2 cup water

  • Cut/ roughly chop preserve radish. Rinse and squeeze dry to remove some of the saltiness.
  • Soak dried shrimps, drain and chop
  • Chop chilli and garlic
  • Finely dice carrot and jicama/daikon
  • Soak mushroom, squeeze off excess water and cut into very tiny pieces
  • Heat about 1 – 2 tbsp oil, add garlic stir till fragrant. 
  • Add pork, stir fry till meat is browned.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Stir fry till heated through and fragrant. 
  • Have a taste if not salty enough, add a dash of fish sauce. 
  • Stir in slackened conflour. Till till sauce is thickened. 
  • Remove, cover and leave to cool. 

Prepare the bamboo leaves

Soak and boil about 20 leaves + few excess if some are torn or too small to use.  See details from previous zhongzi posts. 

I made these dumplings quite small, normally one leaf is enough for 1 dumpling unless the leaves are very narrow or small. 

Prepare the strings
See details from previous zhongzi posts.

Wrapping the zhongzi

Steam zhongzi for about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove, cover and leave to cool. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Once chilled in the fridge the pastry will be much chewier, warm in microwave briefly with the wrapping or steam till heated through.

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