Lor Mai Fun (Lotus Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice)
Here’s one of those dishes where I did not require an actual recipe to recreate it. I’m good like that with Chinese dishes. However, ask me to do a Western dish without a recipe and it usually ends up in utter failure, haha!
Lor mai fun 糯米饭 is Cantonese for sticky rice, the dish can also be called lor mai gai 糯米鸡 (glutinous rice with chicken). When prepared well, it is a favourite yum cha dish for me. And I won’t accept if it’s served naked in a bowl, this dish has to come wrapped with lotus leaf.
The lotus leaf imparts a leafy, freshwater-aquatic quality to the rice when it’s steamed, which plays a big part in the overall flavour of the dish. Hence, it has also be called 河叶饭 (Chinese: he ye fan - river leaf rice). You soak the lotus leaves overnight before using, Soak more than you need, because the leaves tend to have holes in them and some may need to be discarded.
I decided to attempt this dish because a week ago, I was having yum cha at Gold Leaf Docklands with a guy I was dating, and it was his favourite dish. Being an ang moh (Westerner), it was so cute teaching him how to say ‘lor mai fun‘ to the waitress and getting them to serve us the dish correctly. Sadly, as I’m writing this up, he’d already initiated that ‘let’s be friends’ talk. So in the end this whole project, while inspired with him in mind, did not end up with a happy ending.
Glutinous rice, salted duck eggs, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, shallots
On the up side, at least I now have this dish in my culinary belt!
Here are the main ingredients you need to make lor mai fun. You can either use half a chicken (for authenticity and flavour) or just buy thigh fillets (to make it easier). The salted duck eggs has to be the raw type, make sure you ask your Asian grocer for the raw rather than cooked ones.
Most recipes use hae bi (dried shrimps) as part of their ingredients, but I decided to omit that and use lap cheong (Chinese sausage) instead for that umami kick. I also toyed with using goji berries in this recipe, but that’s entirely optional. Also, not pictured here, some of you may want to use peanuts as part of the filling ingredients.
And here’s what I did with the chicken. I filleted half a chicken into small pieces, and left aside all the skin and fat to cook with. How’s that for showing respect to the whole animal? The marinating sauces used are the standard sauces and condiments that any Asian pantry should have.
And as usual with most Asian recipes, you just guesstimate the amounts of sauce to use. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with Asian ingredients, I’ve provided exact proportions in the recipe.
You start off by creating a delicious glutinous rice mixture. Fry the chicken skin off-cuts until the oil’s fully released and they become crisp crackling. Add shallots and fry till fragrant.
Next, add the glutinous rice (soaked overnight then drained), fry for a short while, then stir in some sesame oil, a dash of soy, a few turns of salt, and a capful of Chinese wine.
This is the resultant glutinous rice mixture, pictured right. The marinated chicken pieces are also pre-fried separately before assembly.
Now it’s assembly time!
I tried using a 500ml tupperware to make the parcel, but eventually discovered that a more shallow oval lasagne baking dish (of equivalent volume) was easier to work with.
I cut each lotus leaf into halves. Centre it over the baking dish, line the bottom with some glutinous rice mixture, add all the ingredients, then finally cover with more glutinous rice mixture.
I wasn’t too sure how to wrap them, so I simply folded everything into a parcel in a clockwise direction.
Most of the time, I found the rice doesn’t get that sticky even with just normal steaming. So before wrapping, you should moisten the rice with a drizzle of mushroom water.
And voila! It’s ready for steaming.
If you can’t be bothered with sourcing lotus leaves, remember you can just stir-fry all the ingredients together and then steam it. That’s what I did with my leftover rice and ingredients. But it won’t taste the same, in my opinion.
I used two-tiered bamboo steamers to cook this dish. Steam over medium heat for 45 minutes.
Lor Mai Fun 糯米鸡
Lotus Leaf wrapped Sticky Rice with Chicken
Makes 5-7 parcels
On the night before
Rinse and soak overnight:
6-8 dried whole lotus leaves
750g glutinous rice (drain after soaking)
Fillet into skin-free pieces:
Half a chicken (approx 800g)
Keep the skin, fat & gristle aside (cut into small pieces)
*Alternatively, use 400g thigh fillets
Marinate the chicken pieces overnight with:
15g oyster sauce
10g sesame oil
3g light soy sauce
15g Chinese wine
A few shakes of white pepper
On the day of cooking
Slice 1 Chinese sausage into small pieces
Rinse and soak 50g dried shiitake mushrooms for a few hours, slice thinly (keep the mushroom water)
Break and acquire the yolk from 3 raw salted duck eggs
Pre-fry the marinated chicken briefly until half cooked, drain the juices, leave aside
Over medium-high heat, fry the chicken skin & fat until the oil is released & they become crisp crackling
Add 2 french shallots (sliced) and fry till fragrant
(if you used thigh fillets, then just fry the shallots in a bit of oil)
Add pre-soaked glutinous rice, stir-fry briefly, then season lightly with:
1tbsp sesame oil
A pinch of salt
A dash of soy sauce
A capful (1tbsp) of Chinese wine
Place half a lotus leaf over a shallow (500g) dish
Line the bottom with glutinous rice mixture
Sprinkle filling ingredients:
Pre-fried chicken, mashed salted egg, Chinese sausage, shiitake mushrooms
Optional: peanuts, dried prawn (soaked)
Cover with more glutinous rice mixture
Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp mushroom water
Wrap the leaf up into a parcel
Steam over medium high heat for 45 minutes. Serve.
For more comforting home recipes, check out my Recipes Section.