jueves, febrero 02, 2006

May Your Rice Bowl Overflow

[Chinese-style Glutinous Rice]

It's the fifth day of the Lunar Calendar and most East Asian countries including Vietnam, Korea, China, Malaysia, and Singapore have been celebrating the Lunar New Year in one form or another e.g. Spring Festival. I thought it'll be most appropriate to share with you a Chinese recipe I've improvised: chinese-style glutinous rice with chicken and shitake mushrooms.

Also known as sticky rice or sweet rice, the difference between glutinous rice and normal rice lies in its consistency. When cooked, it is very sticky and therefore perfect for making dumplings, rice balls or rice cakes. Despite its name, it is not sweet, nor does it contain dietary gluten. And like most dried beans, glutinous rice usually requires hours of soaking before it is being cooked.

I love the chewy and clingy texture the rice gives. When done right, it is a pure delight, bringing out its own characteristics and the flavors and ingredients that are added. (At least to my own culinary experiences, the rice is never served or cooked plain.) Various asian cultures employ the flour made out of glutinous rice as a base for their sweet cakes and pastries. For Chinese New Year, round cakes that are sweet and sticky called Nian Gao are found in every Chinese home, first as decoration and later to be devoured. They are ubiquitious for the holiday because Nian is a homonym in Chinese meaning both year and sticky, thus implying the ushering-in of a new year that brings you close to your love ones.

In traditional Chinese cuisine, the rice is often made into parcels (Lo Mai Gai) or pyramid-shaped rice dumplings (Zong Zi) -- both my all-time favorites. They are wrapped with dried lotus leaves or bamboo leaves that gives the dish its form, and at the same time imparting its fragrance.

The following recipe is a variation of Lo Mai Gai that is often found in Dim Sum menus, minus the lotus leaves. (Lo Mai Gai means glutinous rice with chicken in cantonese.) When you can't get the real thing and you crave for it, improvise and make it in your own kitchen. After all, that's really how I got into creative home cooking.

Chinese-style Glutinous Rice
Ingredients: (Recipe for 4)
1 1/2 cup glutinous rice (rinsed and soaked overnight)
10 chinese (shitake) mushrooms (soaked till softened and thinly sliced, minus the hard tips on stems)
2 shallots (or red onions) finely chopped
1 chicken breast (or dark meat if you prefer) thinly sliced into strips
1/4 cup of dried shrimps (soaked in 1 cup water for 10 min and drained. Reserve water)
5 cloves of garlic (minced or finely chopped)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon Chinese or Japanese sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
3 tablespoon light soy sauce
A generous dash of salt and white pepper.

1 stalk of scallion or spring onion thinly sliced (white and green ends)

Steps to recreate the picture above:
Marinate chicken with 1 tablespoon soy sauce and a few drops of sesame oil and let sit.

Place skillet over high fire. Let it heat up for about 2 minutes. Add oil and wait till it heats up a little. Add garlic and shallots and stir-fry 30 seconds till its wonderful aroma is imparted. Next, the dried shrimps go in for a 30-second stir-fry. Then add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, then mushrooms for another 1 minute.

Now comes the drained rice. Stir-fry it good and deftly stir in all the seasonings listed above, one by one. Keep on stir-frying for about 2 minutes and add reserved shrimpy water. At this point, bring it down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Wait for 3 minutes or until water has reduced before transfering rice to a ceramic bowl.

Meanwhile, prepare another wok or a large pot and fill with half inch of water. If you do not have a metal stand for steaming, place two chopsticks slightly longer than the base of the pot in an "x" to form a support that stands right above the water. (If chopsticks don't work, try using other utensils. I once used two forks in a pinch.) Bring water to boil and place rice in bowl above the improvised rack. Cover the pot and reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until rice is just right i.e. not too soft and not too hard. Garnish with scallions before serving.

(Note: During the steaming process, check water level to ensure it is not dried out. In the latter case, add more water.)

This is an entry for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging.


12 Hand-picked Olive[s]:

Blogger Paula picked an olive...

By mere chance, I saw the title of your blog on the "recently updated" scrolling list, and came to discover your recipe for Lo Mai Kai!! I LOVE this stuff, but never ran across such a well explained recipe!! I will definitely try it!! Also browsed through your other entries, and have decided to visit back often. Nice work, blogging!

2:48 a. m., febrero 03, 2006

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

That looks really good! I like anything with mushrooms!

7:14 a. m., febrero 03, 2006

Blogger Kalyn Denny picked an olive...

Very interesting. When I was reading this I realized that I really knew nothing about this type of rice. I'm not sure if I've even eaten it, although I've been to China and I've had dim sum a fair bit in America, so I may have. I enjoyed reading about it.

9:30 a. m., febrero 03, 2006

Blogger *kel picked an olive...

Hi Paula, I´m glad you stumbled across my site! Thanks for your kind words and glad to know that a reader will actually recreate my recipe :)Have you got any roots in Malaysia? Just wondering...from your last name.

Hi mumu, I went looking at the archived files on your blog. Love your writings.

Hola Miss Utah Gal, I wonder if Utah have any significant chinese or asian community. Curious to know.

11:05 p. m., febrero 03, 2006

Blogger Rose picked an olive...

That's weird. I posted a comment here like a day ago and I thought it showed up.

Well, anyway, I wrote about how much I LOVE zongzi. My mom used to make it quite a lot as a kid and I would devour them.

I love the smell of them too, knowing the filling would be salty and tiny bit sweet.

I'm a big fan of mush, so the sticky rice was fun and I enjoyed scrapping off the last bits of rice off the bamboo leaves.

My friend JH and I have discussed having a zongzi party. A group of friends get together, chat and make zongzi!

Zongzi are traditionally eaten during the Dragon Festival in Taiwan, HK and China, no?

12:33 a. m., febrero 05, 2006

Blogger Stephanie picked an olive...

Oh yummy,yummy, yummy! I love zongzi and luo mai kai. Never tried to make my own luo mai kai although I have made zongzi before. It was surprisingly fun. I might give your recipe a try! Yums!

3:09 p. m., febrero 06, 2006

Blogger Annette Tan picked an olive...

Eh, I also posted a comment a day ago, but it doesn't seem to have shown up. Anyways, I wanted to tell you that I'm definitely going to try your recipe for Lo Mai Kai. It looks damn shiok!

12:00 a. m., febrero 08, 2006

Blogger mae picked an olive...

Hi Kel,

I'm definitely trying this one out! I have a packet of glutinous rice in the cupboard...

I so love rice! and i so love learning different ways to cook them.

Your site rocks!

6:46 p. m., febrero 22, 2006

Blogger *kel picked an olive...

Hi rose, yes, zongzi is eaten during the Dragon Festival in the fifth month of the lunar calendar. It´s to commemorate Qu Yuan, an ancient minister-sage who commited suicide on the river for justice.

Mm: hey, if you´ve made zongzi before, this recipe would be peanutes for you.

Eggy: I like that you described my ricebowl picture as shiok :)

mae gabriel: hey, thanks for visiting Green Olive Tree. I´m sure you can see that i´m a big fan of rice too!! I can never have too much of it... hope this dish turns out right for you!

5:22 p. m., febrero 23, 2006

Blogger HCI picked an olive...

Este comentario ha sido eliminado por un administrador del blog.

2:35 p. m., marzo 06, 2006

Blogger HCI picked an olive...

Thks for the recipe, so now if i have the lotus leaf, just wrap the rice with the leaf and steam it, and the authentic lo mai gai?

2:37 p. m., marzo 06, 2006

Anonymous Anónimo picked an olive...

Love your blog kel, you always seem to inspire. Good to see your doing what you love.
Sister in Christ,
Kristi (Michigan)

2:46 a. m., marzo 16, 2006


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