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.

Lots of prepping is involved, including soaking dried shrimp, boiling lotus leaves, and steaming the sticky rice

Lots of prepping is involved, including soaking dried shrimp, boiling lotus leaves, and steaming the sticky rice

Ready to wrap my lo mai gai in the lotus leaf

Ready to wrap my lo mai gai in the lotus leaf

Wrapped and ready for steaming

Wrapped and ready for steaming

When it's all done you get this moist but sticky rice packet with tasty filling

When it’s all done you get this moist but sticky rice packet with tasty filling

26 Responses to How to Make Sticky Rice Chicken (Lo Mai Gai) in Lotus Leaves

  1. Carolyn Jung says:

    Oh, I know — I hate that 10-minute limit on YouTube. That’s why I put my one and only cooking demo on Vimeo. No such time restriction. LOL
    Your video makes me hungry. I have loved sticky rice like that since I was a kid.

  2. hungry dog says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes, but I doubt I’ll ever make it. I’ll have to rely on the old restaurant version! Love that you did it at home, though. Yours look delicious.

  3. Rui says:

    Happy Chinese New Year Ben! May the Year of the Snake bring you good health and prosperity!

    Your cooking looks absolutely delicious!

  4. Sue says:

    I just found your site and videos. So clear and easy to follow. I’ll be making these one day with your recipe. Can they be frozen? Before or after they have been steamed? If they can be frozen, do I bring them back to room temperature then steam them again or steam them from the frozen state. Thanks so much for doing these videos. I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Welcome Sue! My mom told me I could make them and freeze leftovers after I’ve steamed them. I would defrost them a bit in the refrigerator before re-steaming them to heat it up, although that’ll make the rice a bit softer, but that’s probably fine. I have a co-worker who says she microwaves it straight from the freezer sometimes, but not sure if that would work.

  5. Karen Tran says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes – never knew that it would be as simple as making burritos! I thought it was going to be a messy affair with lots of raw ingredients but you make it look so easy! I may have to make a batch and freeze them for lazy Sunday dim sum cravings 🙂

    Happy Lunar New Year!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Yep, freezing is a good way to do a lot of these ahead of time and then eating them at your own leisure. Happy Year of the Snake, Karen!

  6. Bill Noland says:

    I have a question. I have always know these to be called Nor Mi Gai
    Here you call them Lo Mai Gai What is the difference??? I have never
    been corrected whenever I order them. mi and gai is rice and chicken.
    So what is Lo verses nor?

    This gas been one of my most favored Din Sum dishes for many years.
    Have never had to bother making them because I frequent many Chinese
    markets and Dim Sum houses. I normally buy these frozen from one of the
    markets. They make large numbers and freeze them until they need to steam
    a large number for that days sales. I normally get funny looks when I ask
    several frozen ones to take home. They always ask if I have a steamer at home
    and of course I do. As far as cooking them I just take them from the freezer
    and place in my steamer for about 20 to 30 minutes. Have never tried to defrost
    them first or cook them in microwave. I don’t recall ever finding shrimp in any
    of the ones I get. I do on occasion find cut-up pieces of hard boiled egg and there
    was once a place where they would but in a whole hard boiled pigeon egg. That was a

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hi Bill, the romanization spelling of Chinese food will differ from dialect to dialect, so how you spell it doesn’t mean we’re not pronouncing it the same way. But I use the spelling that I see often in dim sum houses, even though it may be a short-hand. It’s hard to say there’s ever a correct spelling, again because of the variation of trying to spelling in English a Chinese word. Mi means rice. Lo Mai together means the sticky rice used in this dish.

  7. Luci says:

    Hi Ben, As I’m watching your video, I’m eating one that I picked up from Good Mong Kok Bakery in Chinatown SF. So yummy, I thought I’d try to make it myself. I made Laulau last week and the process seems similar. If I can find the ingredients, I’ll definitely try it. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hmmm, I love laulau. I never liked it growing up, but now I miss it. That sounds like a good thing to try to make too! Too bad there’s no ti leaves around here to make it with. Good luck with your lo mai gai!

  8. joe says:

    hey ben!
    i have always enjoyed eating lo mai gai but i never realised it was so easy to make. Im having trouble finding the lotus leaves and i dont want to go all the way to ct so is there any other way of “wrapping” them, up? Pretty nice video and guide- you seem like a cool dude

    • Ben Ben says:

      Hey Joe, thanks! I feel the lotus leaves are the only thing that really gives this dish that authentic aroma and flavor. BUT, if you have problems finding it like I said in the radio, you can try banana leaves, because I think they’re big enough to act as a wrap, although they may be more brittle. Also, you can do the rice and filling, and just steam it in a glass bowl. You lose the flavor of the leaves but you still get the lo mai part. Some dim sum places do it like that and my mom often does it because she doesn’t want to deal with the hassles of the leaves.

  9. Jane says:

    Hi Ben! What brand of chinese sausage do you use for this recipe?


    • Ben Ben says:

      I’m actually lucky living near San Francisco because I can get fresh, locally made lap cheong. So my go-to spot is Wycen Foods in Chinatown. Their lap cheong might be a bit saltier to some, but they’re always plump and I feel fresher than what you get in a vacuum-sealed packs. I think they might sell their lap cheong elsewhere, so if you see Wycen from San Leandro, that’s the one I use.

  10. Jane says:

    Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately I just moved to Atlanta from San Francisco..hopefully I can find a Chinese market here!

  11. Phil says:

    Hey Ben! My wife and I watched your video and then spent the morning making 20 Lo Mai Gai and we’ve just tasted the fruit of our labor. Delicious! We actually went out for Dim Sum yesterday… yours are so much better. We’re going to try making some Har Gow later today. Wish you had a recipe for us to follow. I think we’ll try your Shrimp and Avacado Lettuce Cups later in the week. Looks so good. Thanks for your time and effort.

    • Ben Ben says:

      Wow, 20 lo mai gai! You guys are sticky rice wrapping beasts! LOL. 🙂 Glad they turned out. You guys must love dim sum to want to make har gow at home. Have to say, har gow is not my favorite dim sum (not a fan of the glutinous rice skins, remind me of raw flour) so don’t have a recipe. I’m more a siu mai guy. 🙂

  12. Richard Schinella says:

    Great job Ben, both the written and YouTube information. I live in Dillon, MT where there are absolutely no stores selling Chinese ingredients, …most of the ingredients we have were obtained during trips to the Bay Area. A neighbor who is a retired chef from FL gave us the Lotus Leaves. Do you know of any “substitutes” for the “lap cheong”? Thank you 🙂

    • Ben Ben says:

      Congratulations on sourcing the Lotus leaves, which I think is the key ingredient for that right aroma. For the lap cheong, it really adds that salty sausage flavor. So really, you can add any cured sausage like salami, anything that’s flavor won’t compete with the other ingredients, but add that saltiness.

  13. Richard Schinella says:


    I noticed that you said to use about 1/2 tsp ground white pepper, …but in the written menu you stated 1 tsp ground white pepper. You might want to modify this in the written menu.
    Also, today I’m trying the recipe again …but this time I’m using a Johnsonville frozen “Original recipe” pork breakfast sausage patty. I will fry this before I fry the chicken since it is uncooked and might have too much pork fat in it.