TCU Sponsors an International Zongzi Wrapping Contest, and Participants Add Their Hometown Flavors and Ingredients Creatively into Zongzi


Text/Photo: Chia-Yi Lee
Translation: Steve J. Lin

This year Dragon Boat Festival falls on May 30, but beforehand, TCU held an International Zongzi Wrapping Contest, and 17 teams of TCU students, who are from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, India, Thailand, etc., took part in this contest. These teams added such of their hometown flavors and ingredients creatively, as pumpkin, chocolate, banana, kimchi, gynura bicolor, and curry, into their Zongzi, to let everyone taste these varieties of zongzi. For these participants, preparing food was not difficult, though wrapping zongzi was a big challenge, yet it was fun to learn.


Zongzi is a traditional Chinese food, made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo, reed, or other large flat leaves. The participants named their zongzi ingeniously, with names like “Colorful and healthy zongzi,” “Authentic and delicious zongzi,” and “Colors” among them, but others were very curious and couldn’t wait to taste these zongzi. “Colorful and healthy zongzi” was prepared by several Taiwanese freshmen in Chinese Medicine, they used small red beans, chestnuts, green tea powder, and marigolds as fillings. These ingredients are good for our health, especially this rainy season. The red bean can remove our body’s dampness, and chestnuts may make our appetites b繽紛五行開運養生粽」、「傳統就是美」、「檳榔姿粽」、「Colors」、「粽婉靜貞子」光從名字看就令人充滿好奇食指大動。「繽紛五行開運養生粽」參賽者是學士中醫學系一年級同學,他們在粽子裡加入赤小豆(紅豆),栗子,抹茶和芳香萬壽菊等,後中醫學系同學表示,現在台灣正面臨梅雨季節,赤小豆可以去濕,栗子開胃,放進粽子裡對身體是很好。


South Africa’s Lungelo Ntombenhle Thabethe teamed up with Taiwan’s Ting-Ling Guo. They made zongzi fillings by putting pinto beans, carrots, green pepper, onion, and authentic South African spices into South African’s curry soup, and cooked them for a while. Lungelo has celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan for the past three years, and she really likes to eat zongzi. In South Africa, there is a kind of food, which is made of corn and similar to our zongzi, and it is very convenient for everyone to carry to their workplaces. Zongzi wrapping was a brand new experience for Lungelo, and though she did come across difficulty, she always asked her partner for help.


“Indian food is noted for its splendid colors. India doesn’t have zongzi, but we try to add fabulous colors into Chinese traditional zongzi,” said Vaishnavi Seenan, an Indian student. Two Indian students used turmeric and gynura bicolor and turned white rice into yellow and red colors, while utilizing red curry for enhancing taste and color. To attract judges’ eyes, they decorated the plate with plants of various colors, and thus their zongzi and plate were filled unique features of Indian food.

「印度沒有粽子,但我們希望將印度食物色彩繽紛的特色帶進台灣傳統粽子裡。」印度籍學生Vaishnavi Seenan說。兩位印度學生利用薑黃,紅鳳菜根將米飯染成黃色和紅色,並搭配紅色咖哩包成具有異國色彩的粽子。印度菜喜歡以各種繽紛的植物搭配,他們也在擺盤上呈現印度特色。

Ma Ka Weng and Lao Kuok Pou are from Macau, and presented their “Authentic and delicious zongzi” in Cantonese style. Ka Weng said that both Cantonese Zongzi and Taiwanese Zongzi use salty egg yolk as filling. Yet Cantonese zongzi contains peeled split mungbean, but Taiwanese zongzi do not, which enriches the taste on one’s tongue, while eating zongzi.



The director of the Office of International Affairs Hwan-Wun Liu pointed out that the number of TCU’s international students is now 304, which is around 10% of TCU’s student population. International students may not know why and how we celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-autumn Festival, or Lunar New Year, and thus we are holding the International Zongzi Wrapping Contest on this day, to let international students celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival with local students, and enable all students to share their cultural diversity. Ingenuity was the major focus of this event, and he was happy to see participants utilizing their authentic ingredients to prepare zongzi.

The team “Filling up the stomach” was composed of Malaysian students. While eating alkali zongzi, Taiwanese use sugar or honey as dips, yet Chinese Malaysians use kaya. This time, Malaysian students used this traditional Malaysian dip for their zongzi. Malaysian Chinese also pay attention to the plate, and thus they also decorated the plate beautifully with tropical zest. Lau Shel Bie provided ingredients for preparing kaya, which are eggs, coconut milk, sugar, and pandan leaves.


In the memory of Ying-Xiu Li, a Taiwanese student, her grandmother’s zongzi are the most delicious ones, so she wished to prepare delicious zongzi and share them with others. Before coming to TCU, every year, near the Dragon Boat Festival, she would always sit next to her grandmother and prepare some Taiwanese Northern-style zongzi with her. This year, Ying-Xiu contacted her grandmother beforehand and asked for her advice, as she longed to prepare zongzi, which would then be as delicious as her grandmother’s.


The judges looked into each team’s ideas thoroughly, and then tasted the various kinds of zongzi. The judges were impressed by the students’ originality, as their zongzi were not just delicious, they looked splendid in appearance, and also smelled good. These participants could make a living by selling their zongzi in Taiwan, if they wanted to. Consequently, it was a challenge for the judges to choose winners.