Lo Mai Gai or Nuo Mi Ji (Chicken and Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf)
I’m happy to announce that my cake phase is over…for now. I'm taking a break from baking cakes at least until I start my cake decorating classes in a few weeks. I've move on to the food in parcels phase. To start off this phase, I made Lo Mai Gai or Nuo Mi Ji. I think food wrapped in leaves deserve their own little category.
I don’t usually get to eat Lo Mai Gai except for when we go out for dim sum. If I had to choose only one item to eat at dim sum, this is it. I can sit there and eat an entire parcel all by myself. I usually do not because I always feel bad about eating the entire thing. That's why we always order two or three.
A few years ago, I went to dim sum with a bunch of girls. We then went to the Asian grocery store near the dim sum restaurant. My friend asked me if I could help her find all of the ingredients to make Lo Mai Gai at home. Asian food is complicated in the sense that most Westerners do not possess the necessary equipment or ingredients at home. This dish requires at least one if not two different types of steamers. I’ve been able to get away with just one steamer but it took some experimenting to successfully cook sticky rice without a sticky rice steamer.
I prefer a higher proportion of rice to meat so if you like more meat than rice, decrease the amount of rice to two cups and the broth to one cup. I prefer my rice to not be mushy so I use less broth than other recipes I've seen. You can also change the proportion of types of protein. I like using boneless chicken thighs without any char sui because I never really have Chinese barbecued pork around the house. I think the best part of the filling is the Chinese sausage so I use a little more than what is usually found inside your typical dim sum parcel. You can also add diced shrimp if you’re feeling it. I don’t like the smell of shiitake mushrooms so I rinse them really well and use a measly four mushrooms for the 8 packets. Use more if shitakes are your thing. Asian food is very forgiving. Adjust the proportions to your tastes.
Chicken and Glutinous Rice in Lotus Leaf (Lo Mai Gai)
4 dried lotus leaves
3 cups sweet glutinous rice, soaked 6 hours or overnight
1 tablespoons oil
1 ½ cups chicken stock (or 1 ½ cups water with 1 ½ teaspoons Better Than Bouillon)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lb chicken, diced into small pieces
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
msg, to taste
2 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon sugar
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon peanut oil
3 Chinese sausages (Lop Chong), thinly sliced
1 shallot, finely diced
¼ pound char sui (Chinese BBQ pork), diced.
4 dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked and sliced
¼ cup of water
1 green onion, sliced
6 hours before – Soak the rice:
• Rinse the rice several times and cover with water. Set aside at least 6 hours or overnight.
One hour before – Soak the lotus leaves:
• Soak the lotus leaves in hot water.
Steam the rice:
• Drain the soaked rice in a colander.
• Prepare a sticky rice steamer. Like this: http://www.templeofthai.com/food/sticky_rice/
• Steam the rice in the steamer for 20 minutes then transfer to a bowl
• Mix the oil, sugar, and stock in a small pot and bring to a boil. Pour the hot stock over the cooked rice mixture and stir. Cover and let stand 10-15 minutes.
Prepare the meat filling:
• Marinate the chicken with oyster sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper, msg, rice wine, cornstarch, sugar and garlic.
• In a wok, heat the oil and fry the Chinese sausage. Set the sausage to the side. Add shallots and sauté until light and golden then add the chicken and shrimp and cook until browned. Add mushroom and char sui. Stir everything together.
• Add ½ cup of water to wok. Stir until the sauce is thick and glazes the meat. Toss in the green onions and return Chinese sausage to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings. (This is the flavor that will be absorbed by the rice.)
Assemble the packets:
• Divide rice into 16 portions. Divide the filling into 8 portions.
• Cut lotus leaves in half, along the fold, and snip off hard stems. Place lotus leaf on a flat work surface, with rounded edges away from you and the straight cut edge closest to you.
• Place 1 portion of rice onto the center of the leaf. Make a well in the center. Place a portion of the filling in the well. Drizzle in any sauce from the meat mixture. Top with another portion of rice. Pack it tightly to make a small rectangle about 3 inch X 2 inch.
• Fold top side of the leaf over the filling, then take the bottom side and overlap like you are folding a business letter into 3. Then take the left side and fold it under the rice mound. Repeat with the right side side. Place the rice parcel, seam side down, on steamer.
• Place lotus parcels in steamer basket over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes. Add water to the pot as necessary so that the bottom does not burn.
Dried lotus leaves: They come folded in half. Cut them along the fold and snip off the area near the stem. It will make folding easier.
Freezing: The recipe makes 8 parcels. I usually eat one or two right away and then I wrap with heat safe plastic wrap and place in freezer bags and freeze. When I'm in the mood for lo mai gai without having to go out for dim sum, I take out a packet, remove from freezer bag and nuke for about 3 minutes.