Sticky rice and chicken in lotus leaf (lor mai gai) recipe

Posted on May 7, 2013

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I love yum cha. It may not seem that way, because I don’t blog about my yum cha adventures very often. In fact, I’ve only ever written about it once. Not sure why that is the case, guess I find it a little difficult to write about. Yum cha for me is always a noisy affair. I tend to go in a large-ish group where people talk and order over each other, so the food photos are much harder to take! It’s all a bit chaotic which is part of the charm. But luckily I managed to get a few pictures at yum cha while holidaying in Hong Kong and Macao last year. Check out how cute these little dim sum are! (Dim sum is a Cantonese word generally referring to the dishes served at yum cha. Yum cha is the act of going out to eat dim sum at a restaurant. The direct translation of yum cha is to drink tea, as this is what you would normally drink whilst eating dim sum.)

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In addition to stuffing my face with dim sum while overseas, I also came across an illustrated guide to dim sum making while bookshop browsing. It was an awesome find; this book has both Chinese and English text as well as photos of the making process! Possibly my greatest shopping feat for that trip.

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Sticky rice and chicken in lotus leaf, or lor mai gai in Cantonese, isn’t exactly a favourite yum cha item of mine, but I like it and have always wanted to make it myself. Maybe because it seems like an impressive looking dish that is relatively easy, which it is; it’s just fiddly to make. You’ve got to cook the sticky rice and filling separately before wrapping it together in a lotus leaf and then steaming it again. Quite a bit of effort involved, but worth it for the smell of lor mai gai steaming in the kitchen. The smell is completely homely to me, and the lotus leaf imparts such a lovely fragrance to the sticky rice. How nourishing does this little lotus leaf package look? It’s like a scarf and beanie for your tummy – perfect dim sum recipe to try over the winter months.

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I used the above mentioned illustrated dim sum recipe book largely as guide for flavours and techniques, and as per usual I tweaked a bit of it along the way. This is a pretty tasty rendition, the flavours are pretty much spot on with how you’d expect it to taste at yum cha. The recipe yielded more filling that I needed to fill 4 medium sized lor mai gai, but you could always pack in more filling if you want. Or you could make more sticky rice to make more parcels. I just ate my leftover filling for dinner with regular steamed rice.

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RECIPE – Sticky rice and chicken in lotus leaf aka lor mai gai (makes 4 medium sized packages)

Ingredients:

  • 2 dried lotus leaves
  • 2 cups sticky rice (also known as glutinous rice), soaked in water for about 4hours
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)

Marinade:

  • 1 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Stir fry mixture (the filling):

  • 1 skinless chicken thigh fillet chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Chinese sausage (lap cheong) sliced into pieces
  • 2 dried mushrooms, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried shrimp, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 tablespoons corn flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil

Optional extra:

  • 1 salted duck egg yolk quartered (Hard boil egg like you would for a regular egg, discard egg white and cut the yolk into quarters)

Method:

  1. Before we begin, ensure that you have soaked the sticky rice, mushrooms and dried shrimp in water for at least 4 hours. You can place the mushroom and shrimp in the same bowl, but soak the sticky rice separately.
  2. Drain sticky rice making sure that you get rid of most of the water. Add in 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of oil, mix well. Place sticky rice into a baking tray and steam on medium high heat for ~30 minutes or until rice is cooked through. Leave to cool to room temperature.IMG_6544
  3. While rice is cooking, mix together ingredients for the marinade. Place chopped chicken pieces into marinade and leave for at least 20 minutes.IMG_6543
  4. Drain mushrooms and chop into bite size pieces. Steam chopped mushrooms and dried shrimp for ~5 minutes until softened.
  5. Heat a wok or fry pan on medium heat and saute sliced Chinese sausage. There is no need to use any oil at this stage as the sausage will leech its own oil into the pan. Once the sausage has developed a light crust, remove it from the wok, leaving the oil behind.
  6. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok, add in chicken and all the marinade juices. Saute chicken until it browns. Add the sliced sausage back into the wok along with mushrooms and dried shrimp. Stir fry until about 50% cooked through then add in a teaspoon each of dark soy and oyster sauce, mix well. Cover and simmer until cooked through.
  7. Make a slurry with the water and corn flour, add into the stir fry mixture to thicken sauce. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.IMG_6554

Assembly:

  1. To reconstitute the dried lotus leaves, blanch them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Drain and pat dry, then cut the leaves in half. This will give you 4 halves to work with.
  2. Divide the sticky rice into 8 equal portions.
  3. Working with 1 piece of the lotus leaf, place 1 portion of rice in the centre of the leaf.
  4. Place some filling and sauce on top of the rice. If using, place a quarter salted duck egg yolk in centre.
  5. Top with another portion of rice.
  6. Wrap lotus leaf over the rice and viola. These can be kept in the fridge and should be consumed in 2 days.
  7. To serve, steam lotus leaf package over medium high heat for about 15 minutes until warmed through. Eat immediately. (This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but just in case there are some of you who are unfamiliar with lor mai gai, you don’t actually eat the lotus leaf, just the rice and filling inside.)

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Is it that obvious that I’m trying to compensate my lack of posts in the past month with a super long and complex entry? But but – lor mai gai really isn’t as tricky as it appears to be. There are a lot of steps, but it is as simple as cooking the rice, stir frying your filling mixture and then wrapping it all up. A little bit of effort never hurt anyone. If anything, the cooking process will warm up your house and will surely warm the heart of whoever you’re feeding. I’m thinking it’ll make a rather nice mother’s day gift ;).

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