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Changzhou’s Small Foot Zongzi (Xiaojiao Zongzi, 小脚粽子)

The Mala Market
Author: Zoe Yang | The Mala Market


Makes about 40 zongzi, half sweet red bean and half savory fava bean

  • cups dried red adzuki beans
  • cups  dried fava beans, husked (we recommend Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 80 bamboo leaves plus a few more in case of breakage
  • 12 cups short-grain glutinous rice
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce



  • The night before wrapping zongzi, soak red beans, fava beans and bamboo leaves separately in plenty of water overnight.
    The next morning, drain red beans and fava beans, and thoroughly wash the rice. Divide rice amount into two equal halves. Add fava beans to one half of the rice, and mix in two tablespoons of light soy sauce. Let marinate for a couple of hours on the counter. Mix red beans into the other half of the rice and set aside.
  • When you’re ready to begin wrapping, cut forty 25-inch segments of kitchen twine and set aside.
    Feel the bamboo leaves—they should be very pliable and not prone to splitting when you bend them. If they still feel stiff, boil them for 1 minute.
    Remove bamboo leaves from the water and make two piles: one for sturdy, wide, unblemished leaves (these will form your main wrapper), and one for leaves that look short, thin, ripped, or otherwise imperfect (these will be your helpers). Trim off the hard stems of all leaves, then split the helper leaves down the middle lengthwise, along the central rib.

Folding the zongzi (see above for photo/video)

  • Taking a main leaf, form a cone on one end with the raised side of the central rib facing outward. Grip the edges tightly with your non-dominant hand to hold the shape.
  • Add either fava or red bean rice mixture to the cup, then use your dominant hand to fold the leaf over and around the cone while keeping your other hand in place. This will create the “little foot” shape while leaving an opening where the “ankle” is.
  • Use the ankle hole to fill in more rice and beans, and tamp down using a chopstick. Make sure the bamboo leaf is tightly filled, as this makes the zongzi easier to wrap and less likely to come undone while cooking.
  • Select a helper leaf that is wide enough to cover the ankle hole. Place one end of the helper leaf under the “foot,” with the rest of the leaf trailing off the back. Wrap the leaf up the back of the foot and over the ankle hole, sealing it, and continue wrapping down one side of the foot, and underneath, following the contour of the foot. When you get to the end, tuck it in one of the folds. Don’t worry if it’s a little loose.
  • Take a segment of kitchen twine and clamp down on one end with your teeth. Holding the zongzi in front of you with one hand, use the other to wrap the string around the zongzi. Knot tightly, digging the string into the zongzi.
  • Repeat with remaining rice and bamboo leaves. If any main leaves crack or split during the wrapping, start over and recycle it as a helper leaf.


  • Once you’re finished with wrapping, completely submerge zongzi in water in an Instant Pot (natural release) or pressure cooker, and cook on high for 30 minutes. On a stovetop, use a stockpot or Dutch oven and bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 hours.
  • To eat, remove the string and unwrap the zongzi. I like dipping the red bean ones in white sugar and the fava bean ones in a sauce of good light soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar all whisked together.


Cooking may require a couple batches depending on how big your pots are and how many zongzi you make.
Zongzi can keep in the refrigerator for up to a month. To reheat, briefly boil them again for 5 minutes.