Lotus Leaf Sticky Rice

The gooey sticky rice wrapped in fragrant lotus leaf with delectable meat filling is one of my favorite dim sum items.  Why make dim sum at home when you can go to a dim sum restaurant and be eating a wide array of steamed and fried dumplings, custard cups, bean curd rolls, puffs, and sesame balls off metal carts pushed by salty Asian ladies within 5 minutes of sitting down and pay approximately $10 per person?  For one, I live in Davis and there are no dim sum restaurants in town.  Also, Yuan was cooking for a dim sum dinner party (even though dim sum is technically breakfast/brunch food) and wanted to try out some menu items before his event.  I did not object to being the guinea pig for his dim sum trials.

Although it is in no way a 30 minute meal, this was a fun afternoon cooking project and best of all, freezes extremely well for future snacking.  Of course, I was eating for two and ate six or seven of them in one sitting leaving very little leftovers for freezing. Whatever, they were delicious!  Here is the recipe we used:

Lotus Leaf Rice (Lor Mai Gai)

  • 1.25 lb sticky rice (sometimes labeled glutinous rice)
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 large lotus leaves
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 lb chicken or pork (we used pork belly, but chicken thighs would also be good)
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 Chinese sausages (lap cheong) thinly sliced
  • 2 scallion stalks sliced
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp corn starch

Put rice in a large bowl, cover with cold water and soy sauce and soak overnight.  Drain rice and steam so the rice is slightly underdone.

Soak lotus leaves in boiling water for 1 hour.  Soak mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes, squeeze out excess water, then coarsely chop.  Soak dried shrimps in warm water for 1 hour. Yes, it is a lot of soaking.

For the filling, heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or large non-stick pan until hot.  Stir fry meat cut into 1/2 inch cubes.  Add shrimp, mushroom, garlic, sausage and scallions and stir fry for 1-2 minutes until aromatic.  Add oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil and toss well.  Combine corn starch with 3/4 cup water and add the slurry into the filling mixture.  Simmer until sauce is thickened.

Make rice into balls about the size of a golf ball and flatten slightly.  Cut the lotus leaves in half.  Place one rice ball on the leaf, put filling in middle, and cover with another rice ball.  Wrap rice in the lotus leaf like a burrito and tie together.  Steam for 30 minutes.

These delectable packages can be frozen and steamed for 40 minutes.

And we are back! With garlic chili oil…

Hello there dear readers ( Hi Mrs.Chen!), I’m back. We took a little summer vacation. Don’t judge, you took vacations too right? Anyway, I was packing, moving, traveling on the East Coast (to be another post)  and some more moving. Don’t worry, I still managed to eat awfully well though.

When I was on the East Coast, it was crazy hot. I loved that kind of weather but I wanted easy things to cook and eat that won’t heat up the kitchen. I stayed with my father for a week and he made some simple but tasty dishes with this chili oil he spooned on everything. Noodles, cucumber salad, celery salad… Perfect for a hot Virginia summer! I asked how he made it and made a batch as soon as I moved into my new place. It’s so simple and delicious, you can spoon it onto just about anything. I’ll always have a jar in the fridge now!

So here it is.

Garlic Chili Oil

4 tablespoon minced garlic, from about half a head of garlic
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (or more if you want it spicier)
1 table spoon sesame seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil or other neutral tasting oil
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1) Mix the garlic, chili flakes, sesame  seeds  and salt in a relatively tall heat proof jar
2) Heat up the oil in a small pot until hot but not smoking
3) Carefully pour the oil into the jar a little bit at a time, it will bubble like crazy and then settle down. Pour more oil in after the bubbling dies down in batches until you use up all the oil.
4) After the oil is cool, you can put the lid on and keep it in the fridge or use it immediately.

One of the things my dad made with the oil was a simple cucumber salad. I took the liberty of adding bacon to it cause what’s not better with bacon?

Isn’t that lovely?

Cucumber Salad with Bacon

2 large cucumbers sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of Garlic Chili Oil
1/2 teaspoon of rice vinegar
few drops of sesame oil
2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped (optional for a vegetarian version)

1) Mix the cucumbers with salt in a strainer and leave for 30 minutes to drain out some liquid
2) Mix the cucumbers with the rest of the ingredients minus the bacon, then garnish with the bacon
3) Bam, done… Eat.

Bacon-less version


Noodles!

When the three squabbling asians need quick and delicious fortification, we inevitably turn to NOODLES! In the three squabbling asians kitchen, two of us get very cranky when we are not fed.  You can guess as to which two.  We all love noodles and it’s ready in less than 20 min.  Yuan and I grew up in households where noodles were the go-to meal and keep noodles in our pantries at all times.  As Yuan says, “Having no noodles is like having no rice.” The horror.

Last weekend we all got together in Davis and had a full day of activity and cooking.  Sunday morning, I found duck broth, fresh spinach, roasted pork belly, and Bernie’s backyard Banty eggs in my fridge.  The duck broth was made from the carcass of the roast duck we bought to make duck dumplings.  No part of duck was wasted in our operation.  The spinach was picked fresh from a friend’s garden.  The roasted pork belly was leftover from a self-indulgent pork bun operation the day before.  I reheated the pork belly, sautéed spinach with ginger and boiled some noodles.  I made the broth by putting one small dallop of duck fat, a swirl of soy sauce and ground black pepper in the bottom of each bowl.  Then, right before the noodles were done, I filled the bowls halfway with a mixture of duck broth and boiling water to taste.  I rinsed the noodles and placed a portion in each bowl, then added the spinach, pork belly and fried banty egg on top.  Dericious!

In addition to our cooking projects, we enjoyed the beautiful spring weather by visiting the Davis farmer’s market where we picked up some yummy vegetables and a hunk of jowl bacon.

We also checked out Picnic Day at UC Davis where we watched dogs herd real sheep and wiener dogs run races. No, really, there were wiener dogs racing and/or wandering around in the “Doxie Derby” complete with an announcer, instant replays and custom graphics. Little Miss suffered a giggling fit watching the little dogs running around with their floppy ears and one wiener’s fight with his mortal enemy – orange traffic cone.

We spent an enjoyable and productive weekend in the “country” and kept the squabbling to a minimum.

Ginger Scallion Crabbiness!

Yuan’s Amazing Ginger Scallion Crab

  • 2 large live Dungeness crabs
  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 4 green onions, chopped, separate and reserve about a tablespoon of the green parts
  • 3 tbs minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • ¼ cup water

Sauce

  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Steam the crabs over high heat for 14 minutes and cool immediately by rinsing crabs with cold water.

Crack open the crabs and discard top, break the body and legs into sections. Use a heavy rolling pin to crack legs slightly.

Combine corn starch and water mix into a slurry.

Combine ingredients for sauce and have it ready.

Heat a wok to medium high heat. Coat the wok with oil and stir fry scallion, ginger and garlic until lightly browned.

Add the corn starch slurry and sauce and stir to combine.

Let the mixture cook for about a minute to thicken, taste at this point and add salt and pepper if needed.

Add the crab sections back in and stir to coat well. Cook for about a minute. Add the reserved green scallions and toss.