Mom, why are there some lotus leaves in the bathtub? Mom, why is the rice sticky?
This is exactly the kind of dish that I loved to eat when I was living in China. Sticky rice (also called glutinous rice) is really delicious, and it’s a real treat. My kids also love it so much! There were a lot of street vendors in large Chinese cities at the time, who would cook wonderful snacks you could eat on the spot or take away, and this is one of them.
Of course, sticky rice is 100% refined, and is not healthy at all, but, like many natural comfort foods, it’s the kind of rice that, eaten occasionally, is so satisfying that the pleasure it gives you is actually very good for your health!
In order to prepare this dish at home, you’ll need to go to a Chinese food store and buy lotus leaves. They come in the dry form, so they keep really long in a cool and dry place. If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you can use a regular steamer. It’s also best to have a rice cooker, because cooking sticky rice without it is quite difficult.
So, it’s definitely not the quick and easy dish you can prepare when you’re back from work at night; it’s more like a leisurely week-end cooking session, when you have more time and the kids are not around (except if they’re older, in which case they could enjoy to help you).
Serves 4 – Total time 60-90 min
3 shallots, chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 chicken breast, chopped finely
0.45 lb (200g) lacquered duck fillet
7 shiitake mushrooms, soaked and chopped
2 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1.5 cup (320g) sticky rice
4 lotus leaves
For the duck: either you can find lacquered duck fillet in a Chinese store, or you can mix regular duck fillet together with 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp honey. Then, grill the fillet in a frying pan, and then cut into thin strips.
For the chicken: if you can’t find ground chicken, you can take a sharp knife and chop it yourself.
You need to soften the dry lotus leaves. To do this, place them in cold water (I use my bathtub – lotus leaves are large!). This takes about 45 minutes, and meanwhile, we’ll prepare the rice and the other ingredients.
Cook the sticky rice in your rice cooker (add the same quantity of water as the rice).
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan or a wok on high heat. Add shallots and ginger, and fry for about 2 minutes. Add chicken, duck, shiitake mushrooms, and cook for 4 minutes.
Add soy sauce, sugar, and finally, the cooked warm rice. Take away from heat and mix.
Pat dry the softened lotus leaves. Place a leaf on a kitchen board. Add some rice mixture in the center, and then fold the leaf together, as if you would make a spring roll or a parcel.
Place in your steamer, and cook for 15 minutes.
Take the stuffed bamboo leaves out of the bamboo steamer, and place on each plate. Open, making sure you don’t burn yourself with the hot steam, and serve.