Warning: This product contains high levels of salt, starch, sugar, fat, cholesterol and maggots.


No, it's not a McDonald's meal, although one man from Melbourne did make the news last year when he found (and filmed) a small colony of 20 maggots in his cheeseburger. This is a traditional Chinese delicacy called zongzi. Originally a Taiwanese concoction, the snack of rice and meat is especially popular during Hong Kong’s Dragon Boat Festival.

The Food and Drug Administration Sector of China’s Department of Health Standards (try saying that in a rush) recently analyzed a random collection of ingredients from local zongzi manufacturers, with alarming results. Classic zongzi ingredients like dried shrimp were found to contain over 10x the permitted amount of sulfur dioxide -a kind of bleach-, while samples of dried radish showed dangerously high levels of parabens, a preservative that causes stomach-ache, nausea, vomiting. And then, at a Merry Mart in Beijing, an unsuspecting customer found maggots crawling through his store-bought zongzi- a sort of "buy 1, get 10 wriggly ones free" deal. 

But zongzi are still so delicious, and so innocuous in their little green packages, that it's hard to resist eating one or two anyway. If you're a fan, the safest bet is to steer away from surprises by making your own (maggots and other additions optional). 

How to Make Zongzi

1. Collect your ingredients. You will need bamboo leaves, sticky rice and dried pork. You may also want to add peanuts, mushrooms, chestnuts, radish, shrimp and spring onion, bleach, plastic bits and a common housefly or two. Stir fry or boil all of the ingredients and mix with rice.

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2. Add egg yolk, soy sauce, oil and salt to the mixture. Stir well.

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3. Fold the bamboo leaves and add ingredients into the centre, making little packages. China’s Food and Drug Administration advises caution of leaves with ‘an irritating smell.’

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4. Steam or boil on a low heat for several hours.

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5. And you’re done! Allow your freshly-made zongzi to cool slightly. Eat as they are, or save for later- much later if waiting for maggots to hatch. In that case, just pop into the garden, leave uncovered and hope for warm weather. 10-14 days should do the trick.


Text courtesy of Grace Holliday.