Happy New Year of the Tiger! While Gourmet Chick is on holidays photographing tigers, she’s kindly let me share some of my favourite Chinese recipes with you so that you can replicate delicious Chinese food at home. This recipe is for lor mai gai, or steamed glutinous rice in lotus leaves. The dish seems daunting but I assure you it’s actually very easy – it just needs a bit of pre-planning as you need to soak the glutinous rice overnight and then some of the other ingredients need to soak for an hour.
They freeze really well so we keep a stock of these in our freezer for too-tired-to-cook after-work dinners. They are also portable because they come in their own wrapping, so we take these to eat on the run.
600g (3 cups) glutinous rice
2 Chinese sausages (lap cheong)
2 large lotus leaves
2 tablespoons dried shrimp
4 dried Chinese mushrooms (I use up to 8 dried mushrooms because I really like their flavour, but that’s up to you).
2 tablespoons oil
360 skinless chicken thigh fillet, cut into 1cm cubes
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
3 teaspoons light soy sauce
3 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon cornflower/cornstarch
Chilli sauce (optional)
The night before
1. Place the rice in bowl, cover with cold water and leave to soak overnight.
On the day
2. Drain the rice in a colander and place rice in a 10 inch bamboo steamer lined with a tea towel. Steam the rice, covered, over simmering water in a work for 20 minutes, then place the lap cheong on top of the rice to simmer for another 10 minutes or until the rice is cooked and chewy.
3. Take out the lap cheong and slice thinly. Place the rice aside to cool a little.
4. Soak the lotus leaves in boiling water for 1 hour or until softened. Shake dry and cut the leaves into quarters, giving eight equal pieces.
5. Soak the dried shrimp in boiling water for 1 hour, then drain.
6. Soak the dried mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes, drain and keep the water. Squeeze out any excess water in the mushrooms. Remove the stems and finely chop the caps.
7. Heat the work over high heat, add half the oil and heat until very hot. Stir-fry the chicken for 2-3 minutes until browned. Add the dried shrimp, mushrooms, garlic, sausage and spring onion. Stir fry for another 1-2 minutes until aromatic.
8. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and toss well. In a separate bowl/jug, combine the mushroom-soaking water with extra water (if necessary) to make up 185ml (¾ cup) of liquid then stir in the cornflour until the lumps have mostly gone. Add the cornflour mixture to the sauce and simmer until thickened then switch off the heat.
9. With wet hands, divide the rice into 16 balls. Place a lotus leaf on the work surface with the pointy end facing you and the veiny side facing up. Put one ball of rice about three finger spans away from the pointy end and flatten with the heel of your hand so there’s a slight indentation in the centre. Spoon one-eighth of the mixture on top of the rice and top with another slightly flattened rice ball. Don’t worry about trying to completely enclose the filling in rice as otherwise you’ll end up with too much rice. Cup your hands around the ‘rice sandwich’ to pack the mixture together, as all the ingredients should stick together firmly. Wrap the package up very tightly by folding the leaves over to form an envelope. The leaf will seal in the flavour and hold the rice in shape while cooking. Continue with the remainder of the rice and the leaves.
10. At this point, you can put the packages in the freezer to steam later. If you want to eat them straight way, place up to four parcels in a 10 bamboo steamer (you can put the other four parcels in another steamer resting on top of the bottom steamer). Cover and steam over simmering water in a work, reversing the steamers halfway through, for 30 minutes.
11. To serve, open up each leaf and eat straight from the leaf while hot with some chilli sauce.