Top 10 delicacies for Dragon Boat Festival
Updated: 2016-06-08


Zongzi. [Photo/IC]

Zongzi are to the Dragon Boat Festival what eggs are to Easter or roses to Valentine's Day.
The first bamboo-wrapped sticky rice dumplings were probably made with plain rice, but these dumplings soon developed into regional specialties. The main ingredient is glutinous rice, which holds its shape after cooking and keeps well in the summer heat. Millet, whole wheat grains, barley, red beans, mung beans or peanuts are also mixed into the rice to make it tastier.
In South China, glutinous rice is also soaked in an alkaline solution that turns the grains yellow, and the process creates a chewy texture. These are jianshui zongzi, which are always eaten dipped into old-fashioned granulated sugar.
Apart from that, the folks in the southern coastal provinces prefer their rice dumplings savory rather than sweet, and the salted dumplings are filled with beans, pork and mushrooms.

Sometimes the rice is fried and seasoned with soy sauce to add fragrance and color. In Guangdong province, the dumplings get bigger and are shaped almost like miniature pillows, filled with five-spice coated fatty pork and plenty of mung beans cooked inside the rice. Often, traditional cooks also add a whole salted egg yolk.
In Beijing and other northern provinces, the preference is for sweet dumplings, filled with sugary red-bean paste. One of the most popular versions is a red bean and rice dumpling, with or without its ball of bean paste filling.
Other ingredients may include fragrant osmanthus flowers, lotus seed paste, walnuts, jujubes, melon seeds or sesame.
It is not just the flavors that vary from region to region. The dumplings come in different shapes as well.
The simplest dumplings are triangular, made with a single large bamboo leaf and simply folded over.
A more traditional shape is the perfect pyramid, with four corners. This is the dumpling that takes the most skill to make. Even if you get the shape right, the challenge is in how to tie it properly so it does not disintegrate in the boiling pot during the long cooking period.



Realgar Wine. [Photo/IC]

Realgar Wine
There is an old saying: 'Drinking realgar wine drives diseases and evils away!' Realgar wine, or xionghuangjiu, is a Chinese alcoholic drink consisting of fermented cereals and powdered realgar.
In ancient times, people believed that realgar was an antidote for all poisons, and effective for killing insects and driving away evil spirits. So everyone would drink some realgar wine during the Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu.
In the popular fairy tale of the Lady White Snake, a 1,000-year-old reptile takes on human form and falls in love with a poor but good-looking herbalist. She marries him and helps him develop his practice into a successful venture. But instigated by an unbendingly righteous monk, he forces her to drink realgar wine on Duanwu and she reverts to her original form, thus scaring him to death.
Despite his ingratitude, she goes on to offend the deities by stealing a magic herb to save him and ends up being captured and imprisoned under a pagoda on the banks of West Lake after giving birth to his child.



Eggs steamed with tea. [Photo/IC]

Eggs Steamed with Tea
It is a custom for people in Central China's Nanchang region to eat eggs boiled with tea at Dragon Boat Festival.
The shells of the boiled eggs are then dyed red, put into colorful net bags, and hung round children's necks, which is believed to bring them good luck.



Eggs boiled with garlic. [Photo/IC]

Eggs with Garlic
In the rural areas in Central China's Henan province and East China's Zhejiang province, people eat eggs with garlic on Dragon Boat Festival. Eggs are steamed with garlic and then shared with families as breakfast. Eating eggs with garlic is believed to promote health.



Glutinous rice cake. [Photo/IC]

Dagao - Glutinous Rice Cake
Glutinous rice cakes are eaten by the Korean ethnic group, who live in Yanbian prefecture in Northeast China's Jilin province. Served with honey or sugar, it tastes delicious and chewy.



Stir-fried eel with brown sauce. [Photo/IC]

The custom of eating eel on Dragon Boat Festival day prevails in central China's Wuhan region. Eels are probably eaten simply because they are in season during the festival, fatty and tender, and rich in nutrition.



Jiandui. [Photo/IC]

Jiandui - Fried Cake
Jiandui is a kind of fried round cake made of wheat and rice flour and something to sweeten them. In East China's Fujian province, every family eats jiandui on Dragon Boat Festival.
A legend explains this custom. It is said that the area enters its rainy season during Dragon Boat Festival. People believed there were holes in the sky which, if not filled, would allow the rain to continue indefinitely. Eating jiandui is said to help mend the sky and fill the holes.



Pancake. [Photo/IC]

In East China's Wenzhou area, every family eats a kind of thin pancake at Dragon Boat Festival.
The pancake is made of refined white wheat flour fried in a flat frying pan. When the cake becomes very thin and translucent, as thin as a piece of silk as the locals describe it, it is done. Green bean sprouts, leek, shredded meat, and mushrooms are then placed on the pancake, which is then rolled up and eaten as a wrap.



Salted duck eggs.

Salted Duck Eggs
The salted duck eggs have a soft briny smell, a very liquid egg white and a firm-textured, orange-red round yolk that looks like the crab cream. Tradition has it that it is good to eat salted duck eggs during the Dragon Boat Festival as the burning summer is coming. The salted duck eggs are nutrient-rich and have some effect on the treatment of heat stroke.



Mianshanzi. [Photo/IC]

Mianshanzi is a kind of wheat flour food made in a fan shape. The custom of eating mianshanzi on the Dragon Boat Festival mainly prevails in Minqin county in Northwest China's Gansu province.
This fan-shaped food is made up of five multi-colored layers, with each layer covered with fried sprinkles of pepper powder. The layers are pinched into a variety of patterns to make it appealing to eyes. This dietary custom is said to be trace back to the tradition of making and selling fans during Duanwu Festival in ancient times.

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