Fried Glutinous Rice with some "Treasures"

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

I have 6 types of rice in my pantry: Thai Jasmine, Calrose, Japanese Rice, Basmati, Sweet Rice and Glutinous. I can assure you that none of them will be wasted and will eventually be used.  

Glutinous rice or Sticky Rice is special in its own way. Remember that it is staple in countries like Laos. It is versatile. It can be used for appetisers, mains or desserts. It can be an early morning breakfast delight, afternoon tea staple or a dinner dish. It can grace a Chinese wedding banquet, often towards the end of an 8-course meal. It can also be used for fine dining dishes. As the rice holds up well in almost any shape and can be served in small quantities, it is a chef's choice of rice.

Since I discovered an easy way of steaming "perfect" glutinous rice using the splatter guard and ensuring every grain is cooked perfectly (i.e. not too soft or soggy in parts), it means that making glutinous rice recipes has become a whole lot easier. I have blogged the Loh Mai Kai recipe here.

One stand out recipe for me is Loh Mai Fun (photo on the right). This is a very simple dish to make. Now the main key to a good one is to ensure the right texture for the rice. I have eaten versions which are clumpy because of the way it was steamed. What you want is separated grains, each steamed to perfection and your dish is almost there. The next stage of flavoring (stir and mix in the wok) and garnishing is very straightforward.

The same principles applies in making "Eight Treasures Glutinous Rice." I came across recipe for this by a local chef. Refined versions are offered in Chinese restaurants. At home or for parties, you can choose what ingredient to use and you can use more or less than 8. I am of course not superstitious about this!   

Think of the ingredients to flavour the rice, to accompany it - or both. Different texture, colours etc. Unless you are blind, the visual for the food is VERY important. Sometimes TFC fans ask what my secret to good food photography is. I can tell you I am quite a novice when it comes to Cameras and Canons. But a good food photo begins with a plate of good food. A photo can tell a lot about whether the dish is properly made. And good visual enhances the eating experience. I will say that the food's "as in" appearance is even more important than plating techniques. Good plating techniques enhances the eating experience (and also makes for good photography) but it should never replace the fact that the dish needs to be cooked well.

I will blog a specific recipe later but let me go through again the basics and phases of making a good "Loh Mai Fun" recipe:

Stage 1: Soaking the Rice. 4 hours should work. I have heard of those who do not even bother to soak but will be right to say that in general, you should.

Stage 2: Steam it perfectly. For me, this means about 45 minutes on the Splatter Guard. If I am making more than 0.5 kilo, the guard can be quite crowded and so I stir the rice 2-3 times to ensure even doneness.    

Stage 3: Flavour the rice. Cook it further in the wok. Apart from flavouring it, you also adding oil and moisture, ensuring that the rice will not dry out and harden.  If you are doing Loh Mai Kai, steaming the bowled portions become a part of this stage. 

Then you garnish (or plating) and serve. The best way to eat Loh Main Fun is to use chopsticks. You pick the grains and ingredients. I really think it reduces the eating experience when you eat it with fork and spoon.

Easy enough? Understand this and I am sure you can imagine the many interesting recipes you can come out with simple home dishes to exquisite fine-dining ones. This can also include desserts like Mango Sticky Rice.

To guide you, you can check out this "treasures" recipe which I cooked for a family dinner recently:

Fried Glutinous Rice with some "Treasures"
(recipe for about 10 bowls of rice)

500 grams of Thai glutinous rice
3 big pcs mushrooms
5 big pcs fresh prawns
2 Chinese  sausages (if possible, use a few types i.e. pork and liver)
1 pkt fresh lily bulbs
20 gingko nuts
40 grams dried shrimps
3 big pcs dried scallops (or 6 pieces medium)
A little pepper
½ tsp sugar
1 tsp chicken powder or chicken stock
½ tsp oyster sauce
A little light soy sauce
A little dark soy sauce
1 tbsp oil for frying rice

  1. Soak glutinous rice
  2. Soak mushrooms with tap water until soft. Discard water. Steam the mushroom together with some spring onion and ginger for ½ an hour. Cut the mushrooms into cubes.
  3. Deshell the prawns. Cut into small pieces.
  4. Steam the 2 types of sausages until cooked. Cut them into cubes and fry.
  5. Pluck and wash the lily bulbs into pieces.
  6. Soak the dried scallops with tap water until soft. Steam the dried scallop together with the water for half an hour. Keep the water for further use, eg use as soup. Shred the dried scallops finely.
  7. Soak the dried shrimps with tap water for about 15 minutes or till soft. Drain.
  8. Boil the lotus seed in water for about half an hour or until quite soft. Remove the inner bitter stem (if any).
  9. Heat wok. Add oil. Add dried shrimps and sausages. Fry them over medium fire until fragrant. Add in fresh prawns. Fry until cooked. Add in mushroom, dried scallops, lotus seed seeds, fresh lily bulbs and fry for a while only to mix well. Add in glutinous rice and fry over high fire for around 3 minutes.
  10. Taste the rice to ensure the saltiness is just right. It should not be too salty as the treasures will provide the "encapsulated" burst of flavours. Note that the dried shrimps and Chinese sausages are salty and flavor ful.  
  11. Garnish with coriander leaves, red chillies and serve, preferably warm.
I use a stacked steamer which can steam different things at once and so, it is more convenient this way. Soak (rice), steam (rice), steam (ingredients) and combine all and fry briefly. It is really not difficult.

It can be a meal on its own. If you are adding these fine "treasures," it is best served during dinner. Of course this can be a Chinese New Year delicacy. 

Steaming using the splatter guard
Perfectly steamed

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