THE 3 IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL (TUEN NG) 端午節
Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month so it usually ends up being in May or June. For 2017, Dragon Boat Festival is going to be May 30, 2017. Phonetically, it’s written as Tuen Ng Festival for Cantonese speakers and Duan Wu Festival for Mandarin speakers. So how did Dragon Boating begin?
ONE. ORIGINS OF DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL.
There are several stories & theories, but this is the most popular and well known tale and it starts from a famous poet named Qu Yuan (屈原). He served in the high offices of the Zhou Dynasty in the state of Chu and Qu was exiled when he opposed the King’s idea of becoming allies with another power state called Qin.
Qu was also a great poet and wrote a lot of poetry during his time when he was exiled. When Qu heard that the state capital of Chu was captured by Qin, out of despair, he threw himself into the Mi Lo River.
Considered a Chinese National hero by the people, when the people heard of Qu’s suicide, they raced out to the river with their boats searching for Qu’s body. They also slapped their paddles hard into the water and banged drums to try to scare off any other predators that might want to eat Qu’s body.
Unfortunately, the people couldn’t find Qu’s body so instead, they decided to throw balls of sticky rice into the water so predators in the waters would eat the rice and not Qu’s body.
The boats and sticky rice have eventually evolved into the present time traditions of Dragon Boat and eating zongzi during the festival.
TWO. EATING ZONGZI DURING DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL.
Zongzi, is sticky rice with either a savoury or sweet filling inside, wrapped with bamboo leaves and then tied with a string so it looks like a pyramid. It then gets boiled anywhere from 2 hours to 10 hours depending on the size. The sweet fillings will include some sort of bean, red bean being the most popular and some people will dip it into sugar when they eat it. The savoury zongzi(s) will have a salty duck egg yolk with assorted meat (usually pork), shitake mushrooms, Chinese sausage, green bean, dried scallops, etc. With the savoury ones, people may use soy sauce as the dipping sauce. Yes, it’s a meal in itself and is quite filling. Every region or Chinese family will do slight variations to their zongzi, so basically anything goes in terms of filling.
HOW TO COOK A ZONGZI
ONE. DUMP IT INTO A POT OF BOILING WATER.
When you purchase your zongzi, ask the store how it needs to be cooked for. The one below is savoury and it took 15 minutes to cook.
TWO. TAKE OUT & OPEN.
Cut the strings and discard the bamboo leaves.
THREE. IT’S TIME TO EAT!
Usually, if it’s a sweet zongzi, you use white sugar & if it’s savoury, you use soy sauce as the dipping sauce. They’re good for sharing as well.
Zongzi(s) are gifted amongst family members, some families may still hand make them but most will now buy for convenience, so if you want to impress, people like to buy it from Shangri-La and other various hotels in Hong Kong. I personally love the small shops & therefore would recommend these shops to get your zongzi and they’re about $50HKD for one.
Name: Wing Lee Wai Wines LTD 永利威
Name: (no English name) 三陽號食品 – 嘉咸街肥媽
THREE. DRAGON BOAT RACING.
There are several places in Hong Kong that will have Dragon Boat competitions. Here’s the official Hong Kong tourism website and it will get updated closer to the date listing all the local Dragon Boat events. The most popular events are usually at Sai Kung and Stanley but more and more areas are having their own Dragon Boat festivities as well.
And if you live in Hong Kong, congratulations, Dragon Boat Festival is a public holiday indeed! Like our content? Don’t forget to join our Humid with a Chance of Fishballs’ foodie tours, craft beer brewery tours, & even a free walking tour in Hong Kong. Visit us at www.humidwithachanceoffishballs.com.