Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lotus Leaf Wrapped Glutinous Rice

My kids absolutely love sticky rice and everytime we go to the Dim Sum restaurant, they will always ask for the Lotus Leaf wrapped Sticky Rice (Lo Mai Kai) alongside the Char Siew (BBQ pork) steamed Buns. Glutinous rice is high in starch and requires extra water to cook it and some people gets indigestion for having too much. There are sweet glutinous rice desserts in the Chinese cooking, which I have yet to attempt and doubt my kids will eat it since they have only been eating glutinous rice in this savory way.

I have made the Chinese dumpling in Bamboo Leaves and glutinous rice , where the dumpling contained uncooked rice stuffed with fillings, bundled and wrapped into triangular shapes in Bamboo Leaves which was totally immersed into water to boil to perfection while the latter was the same thing except that the uncooked rice was mixed with the cooked fillings and put into the rice cooker with enough water to cook it. The extra character of this dish now is wrapping the rice together with the filling in a large Lotus leaf and steaming it on high heat so that the aroma of the leaf infuse into the rice. And the difference is that the glutinous rice here is cooked in the rice cooker prior to mixing in with the cooked fillings which blends the ingredients all together better and resulting in an evenly cooked rice. This cut down the time of steaming.

Dried Lotus Leaves comes in a huge packet of 10 to 12 and each leaf has already been folded into a half of a fan shape and needs to be softened and cleaned in hot boiling water prior to use. In texture and appearance, they look like grape leaves. I cooked about 2 and 1/4 cups rice here and used 2 leaves to wrap it all up, hence my rice packets looked 2 times bigger than those in Chinatown.

The original version of Lo Mai Kai contains diced chicken meat rather than pork and also the dried shrimps that impart the extra Umami taste with the shiitake mushroom. I ran out of both these ingredients and substituted diced pork and Goji berries for an additional color and sweetness to the overall rice. The most important thing in this dish is the texture of the rice, which is soft and sticky but not mushy and watery and also that the flavor from  the combination seasoning of the dark & light soy together with the Chinese cooking wine, white pepper, 5 spice Powder and sesame oil must linger and present after the high heat steaming.

Recipe (serve about 4)
2 Lotus Leaves, Soaked in Hot Boiling Water for 5 mins & Rinsed with cold water after softened, Pat dry
2 & 1/4 cups Glutinous/Sweet Rice
5 Dried Shiitake Mushrooms, Re-hydrated & Sliced thinly
2 logs of Chinese Preserved Sausages (Sliced)
150g Diced Pork or Chicken Meat (marinated with 1 tbsp soy sauce, white pepper, sesame oil and 1/2 tsp cornflour)
2 tbsp Goji Berries
3 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 of a Red onion Or 3 small shallot, minced
Dark Soy sauce, Light Soy Sauce, Chinese Cooking Wine, White pepper, Sesame Oil, 5 Spice powder

  • Run the rice under running water for 4 times, wash everytime till the water runs clear. Soak the cleaned rice in water for 2 hours.
  • Cook the rice in the rice cooker, about 2/3 cup more water than the water required to cook normal Jasmine Rice. Turn off the rice cooker and scoop out the rice to cool.
  • Heat a large pan with 2 tbsp cooking oil. Tip in the minced garlic, onion/shallot and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add in the pork or Chicken and cook for 5 mins.
  • Tip in the shiitake Mushroom and Chinese sausages and mix in. Cook for about 5 mins. Add 1 tbsp water. 
  • Fold in the Rice and mix up to incorporate all the other ingredients.
  • Add in 2 tbsp Dark Soy sauce, 1/2 tsp White pepper, 1/2 Tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine, 1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil, 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice powder. Stir and mix to coat the rice. Add more soy if color is not thoroughly mixed.  Turn off heat.
  • Lastly, scatter the goji berries all over the rice and gently stir in.
  • Take one Lotus Leaf, open it up gently to its original round diameter, scoop 1 rice spoonful of the rice mixture near to the middle with plenty of space near the rims. Double Fold the rim if required and fold up to enclose the rice, like packing up a book. Ensure all sides are enclosed and tie up with twine to secure the filling.
  • Place in a steamer (not inside the water but on a steamer plate standing over boiling water) and steam at high for about 20 to 25 mins.
Serve and scoop to individual plates.

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