It’s not just meat that makes a dumpling tick. Vegetarian rice dumplings are delightful too, and even healthier. Brown rice substitutes glutinous rice for a more nutritious, nuttier taste, and instant oats is added to give the zongzi bits of crisp, crumbly, crunchy textures in each bite. But if you’re not a great fan of the sometimes chalky texture of brown rice, you can keep to regular white rice. Creamy yam, umami-packed mushrooms and sweet chestnuts will still infuse the whole thing with complex, aromatic flavours. Plus, the typical zongzi sauce base remains the same, with soy sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce used for a rich salty taste. In all, this all-vegetarian, brown rice dumpling will be suitable for those watching their health.
Mixed-grain dumplings, including those using chia, quinoa and barley seeds have also made way into the menus of top hotels and big-chain restaurants. Singapore Fullerton’s Jade Restaurant offers vegetarian dumplings made from five types of grains including millet and oats, and fake meat or omnipork, a soy and rice-based blend, retailing at SGD 9. Popular Cantonese-chain Crystal Jade also launched its all-vegetarian purple quinoa rice dumpling, with red and black beans, chestnuts and mushrooms at under SGD 8.