While there's no one standard joong recipe, what they all have in common is they consist of a bundle of rice stuff with some kind of filling, which is then wrapped in bamboo leaves and cooked. This is my mom's joong recipe, which is a variant on the Cantonese style, which typically uses glutinous rice mixed with split mung beans, and the stuffing usually consists of a combination of salted duck egg yolk, sliced lap cheong, cured pork belly, dried shrimp, and dried shiitake mushrooms. Much as their are regional styles of joong, every family has different methods and recipes for making joong, and my mom's recipe is no different: my mom substitutes dried scallops for the dried shiitake.
Joong aren't difficult or complicated to make, but you do need to plan out the process, especially if you plan on salting your duck eggs and pork belly yourself. Here is a timelines of how I prepare my joong:
- 4 weeks prior: brine duck eggs (step 1)
- 4 days prior: cure pork belly (step 2)
- 1 day prior: prep joong leaves (step 3)
- Day of: final cleaning of leaves, prep ingredients, assemble, cook, EAT!
It may seem daunting at first, but don't worry! Once your joong are done, you'll understand why people greatly appreciate receiving these tasty bundles—they really are a labor of love. I recommend making these as part of a group because it's a great way to spend time together and to ensure you have plenty of help assembling and wrapping the joong
Toward the end, you may have more filling than necessary for the 15 joong. What I usually do is make a special joong by placing all the stragglers into one super-sized joong for myself. Cook's treat!
- 1 (12-ounce) package dried joong leaves (see note)
- 1/2 pound cured pork belly (recipe)
- 2 1/2 pounds glutinous rice (Cantonese: loh mai, see note)
- 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil
- 4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 (14-ounce) package dried split hulled mung beans (see note)
- 8 raw salted duck egg yolks (recipe, see note)
- 3 links of Chinese sausage, about 6 ounces total (Cantonese: lap cheong, see note)
- 1/4 cup dried baby shrimp, about 1 ounce total (Cantonese: ha mai, see note)
- 4 dried scallops, about 1 ounce total (Cantonese: ghown bhoy, see note)
For the joong leaves: Place at least half of the package of joong leaves in a large container and cover completely with cool water. Soak leaves for twenty-four hours, changing water twice.
Place joong leaves in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Cover with water and place on stove over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Drain leaves and rinse with cold water. Using a vegetable brush, take one leaf and scrub each side and rinse again under running water. Trim off stem using kitchen shears and discard. Repeat until all the leaves are scrubbed, rinsed and trimmed. Put leaves in colander, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and set aside.
For the lap cheong: Rinse lap cheong under cold running water and drain. Cut each lap cheong in half crosswise. Split each half lengthwise twice into quarters (you should get 8 pieces out of each lap cheong). Set aside.
For the the cured pork belly: Rinse pork belly under cold running water to remove excess salt. Pat dry with paper towels and slice into 1/2-inch wide strips lengthwise. Cut each strip into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.
For the salted duck egg yolks: If using cooked salted duck egg yolks, cut each yolk in half and set aside.
If using raw salted duck egg yolk, separate whites from yolks. Reserve whites for another use (they will keep for 1 month in the refrigerator). Cut yolks in half using lightly oiled kitchen shears.
For the dried shrimp and dried scallops: Place shrimp and scallops in separate small bowls. Wash three times in cold water drain. Cover completely with water and let soak for fifteen minutes. drain and set aside. Shred scallops into strips and set aside.
For the rice: Place rice in fine meshed strainer. Rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Transfer to large bowl and cover completely with cold water. Allow to soak 15 minutes. Drain well and transfer to large bowl.
For the mung bean: Place beans in fine meshed strainer. Rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Add vegetable oil and salt and mix well. Add mung beans to rice and toss to combine.
To Assemble: Take two whole joong leaves of approximately the same size. Make sure there are no tears or rips in leaves. Leaves should curve in same direction. Take one joong leaf in each hand holding it horizontally in front of you while making sure the ends match each other. Overlap edge of one leaf onto center spine of other leaf. Hold overlapping leaves together with your thumb in the center of the leaves and fold in half.
Fold bottom half inch of leaf upwards and tuck under thumb to create pocket inside leaves for joong. Hold the folded leaves in one hand and then use the other hand to open the leaves to make the pocket inside.
Holding leaves firmly, place 3 tablespoons rice mixture in pocket. Add once piece cured pork belly, half an egg yolk, three shrimp, three strands scallops and one piece lap cheong to center of rice. Cover filling with another 3 tablespoons rice.
Add third joong leaf by wrapping it around top of the two leaves in order to extend the height of the joong. You will be using this leaf to close everything up.Take outer edge of third leaf and fold it towards the center, sealing the joong. The joong should now be sealed at one end and open at the other.
Smooth out leaves towards open end and then gather all the ends, fold them towards the center and hold down with your thumb. Be firm, but do not rip or tear leaves. If leaves tear, start over. Secure the with kitchen twine by making several loops around joong and securing with knot. Pat finished joong with hands on both sides to compact. Repeat until joong leaves and filling are finished. Excess joong leaves can be dried at room temperature on a wire cooling rack and reused
Layer finished joong in a large stockpot and cover with water. Place on stove over high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cook for 2 1/2 hours, topping up pot with boiling water to keep joong submerged and rotating joong every hour to promote even cooking.
Remove joong and drain in colander set in sink. Allow to rest for ten minutes. Cut open parcels and serve immediately with soy sauce.
Extra joong can be stored in refrigerator for up to one week or in freezer for several months. To reheat, place in simmering water until heated through.
For the joong: Boiling the leaves in step four is a very important. It will remove the impurities on the leaves that can cause the joong to spoil during storage.
Packaged, cooked salted duck egg yolks can be used instead of salted duck eggs you've prepared yourself, but the cooked duck egg yolk will not have a creamy, rich consistency in the finished joong. Rather, it will have a crumbly, sandy texture.
Lap cheong/Chinese sausage: My favorite brand is Golden Mountain, imported from Vancouver, BC, Canada. I like their lap cheong's strong sweet-savory flavor and juicy fat-to-meat ratio.
Dried shrimp: Purchase the baby shrimp that are the size of a split green pea. Make sure to smell before buying; they should have a pleasantly fishy, briny aroma. If there is an off odor or no smell at all, do not buy it. Also, do not buy ones that are extremely bright orange; this means they were most likely treated with food dye and aren't good quality.
Dried scallops: Dried scallops are an expensive ingredient, but for joong there's no need to purchase the top quality. Purchase a middle grade; never buy the lowest grade of any dried preserved ingredient because it's a waste of money. Smell your dried scallops before purchasing and check for the savory, almost meaty smell. Remember, no smell means they'll have no taste. Make sure you buy whole scallops and not ones that are broken or have dried edges.
Glutinous rice: I prefer Koda Farms Sho-Chiku-Bai Premium Sweet Rice because the rice cooks up firmer than other brands.
You can find these items in the large Asian supermarkets in most major cities or online. In New York, my go-to place is Po Wing Hong in Manhattan's Chinatown because they have a good inventory of quality products at a reasonable price and a staffed dried preserved food section. A plus is that all the non-perishable ingredients are listed above so it offers one stop shopping. The packaged, cooked salted duck egg yolks are available at Po Wing Hong as well.
Po Wing Hong Food Market Inc.
49 Elizabeth Street, New York NY 10013 (map) 212-966-1080
1 large stockpot (or similar sized pot with lid), kitchen scissors, 1 ball of kitchen string, large container to soak joong leaves in (you may also soak them in your clean kitchen sink), bowls