With Chinese (or Lunar) New Year just around the corner (it’s Sunday, Year of the Snake), I thought I should do a demo of a Chinese dish. While this particular dish isn’t traditionally served during the new year celebration, it’s still one of my favorite things to eat.
Lo mai gai, which literally translates to mean “sticky rice chicken,” is a dish you’ll often see at dim sum restaurants. When the server places the steamer basket onto your table, everyone can smell the fragrance from the lotus leaves being unwrapped and then salivates seeing the little square of sticky rice with a filling of chicken, lap cheong (Chinese sausage) and shiitake mushrooms.
Over the last month I’ve been trying to duplicate the dish at home. It’s actually pretty simple to make in theory, but a bit laborious because of all the prep work and time it takes to steam everything. Still, so worth it when you dig into a freshly made lo mai gai. Enjoy!
Watch the demo
Be sure to watch both videos. Yeah, I know, I chat too much and get into too many details, so that’s why I had to break the demo into two parts. Maybe someone should petition YouTube to change its 10-minute limit.
Sticky Rice Chicken (Lo Mai Gai) Recipe
Makes 4 to 5 servings
2 dried lotus leaves*
2 cups glutinous rice (aka sweet rice)
Seasoning for rice
1/2 t chicken bouillon (powder form)
1 T light soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1/4 cup warm water (preferably the water used to soak the dried shrimp)
1 skinless chicken thigh, chopped into tiny cubes
1/2 lap cheong (Chinese sausage), diced
1/2 T dried shrimp, diced
2-3 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated and chopped
1 t fresh ginger, minced or grated
1 t ground white pepper
1 T soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 T Xiao Xin wine (Chinese rice cooking wine)
1 T oyster sauce
1 t cornstarch
Soak glutinous rice in water for 2 hours (or overnight). Line your steamer basket with parchment paper, and bring water to boil. Reduce heat to medium. Rinse rice and then pour into steamer basket and steam for 40 minutes (until rice looks like it’s almost translucent). Tip: Make sure you have enough water to steam for that long.
Prep lotus leaves by cutting one in half down the middle. Cut away the tough part near the base of the stem and any outer-edges that are broken or damaged. Then bring water in a wok or large pot to a boil and boil the leaves for about 3 to 5 minutes until soften and easy to work with. Drain leaves in colander in sink until ready to use. (You might want to prepare a couple of extra leaves, just in case.)
Soak dried shrimp in 1/4 cup of water for about five minutes. Remove shrimp and dice into bits, reserving the water for rice seasoning.
Prep the dried shiitake mushrooms by boiling in water with a dash of soy sauce for about 10 to 15 minutes, or under they look soft. Remove from heat and pour out the hot water, then soak for a minute in cold water. Drain water and squeeze mushrooms to get out excess water.
In a bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the rice seasoning (chicken bouillon, light soy sauce, sesame oil, water). Then add steamed rice and blend. Set aside to let cool.
Marinate the chicken with ground white pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, Xiao Xin wine, oyster sauce, cornstarch and ginger. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
In a small skillet or sauté pan, add a bit of oil (any neutral flavored oil will do) and warm over medium high heat. Add chicken and brown lightly on all sides (do not add all the marinade because you don’t want the chicken to be sitting in soup). Then add lap cheong, dried shrimp, and mushrooms. Mix together for about a minute. If you still have marinade left, add to pan and quickly cook until thicken. Set aside.
Assemble your lo mai gai packets by laying down the lotus leaf with the bumpy stem side up. Place layer of rice near bottom third of the leaf, about a 4”x4” square. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center and then add some rice on top. Fold the lotus leaf like a burrito, wrapping over the rice once and then pulling in the sides and rolling. Do the same with the remaining leaves and ingredients.
Place your packets in the steamer (with the loose end leave part on the bottom) and cook over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool for about a minute before serving.
*Dried lotus leaves can be hard to find, but they’re usually found in Chinatown, and usually in the shops that sell dried goods (probably the same place where you find the dried shrimp). You can make this without the leaves (or sub with banana leaves), but you won’t have that same herbal fragrance of the lotus leaf.
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