Lo Mai Gai (Lotus leaf wraps)

These are a dim sum favorite, consisting of various savory goodies encased in sticky rice, wrapped in a lotus leaf, and steamed. All the flavors meld and the lotus leaf adds a wonderful fragrance. If you can find the lotus leaves, these are easy to make at home. Many oriental groceries carry them, dried. They are really cheap and keep forever. Here’s a dried lotus leaf with the stem end at the top of the photo, it’s about 14-16″ across.

Lotus leaves are bright green on the top side and much duller on the bottom (the photo shows the bottom of a leaf). They usually come in pairs with the top surfaces stuck together. If a “leaf” is the same color on both sides then it is 2 stuck together; you can separate them after soaking (see below).

You also need sticky rice, also called sweet rice (although it’s not sweet), as shown here. It is a short grain rice and cooks up very sticky, just what you want for this recipe.

Now for the recipe:

3 c sticky rice (also called sweet rice, although it is not sweet)
4 lotus leaves cut in half from the stem end
4 Chinese dried mushrooms (dried shitake)
4 ounces of raw boneless chicken breast or thigh
2 Chinese sausages (lop cheong)
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1 TB peanut or other oil

As needed:

Soy sauce, light and dark
Chinese cooking wine
Sesame oil
Corn starch
Ground white pepper.

Soak the rice for 1 hour or more, then drain. Do not rinse – after all, you want it to be sticky! Steam the rice for 20 minutes for relatively firm rice, up to 30 minutes for softer rice. I do this by draining the rice in a large strainer then simply putting the strainer in a pot of the right size, with 1″ or more of water in the bottom, and covering with foil. When the time is up, remove from the heat and keep warm.

Soak the lotus leaves in warm water for at least 1 hour.

Cut the chicken into 1/2″ pieces and mix with 1/2 tsp salt, 1 TB Chinese cooking wine, and 1 tsp cornstarch. Let marinate for 30 minutes or longer.

Soak the mushrooms in hot water for at least 30 minutes. Remove the stems, squeeze out excess water, and cut into medium dice. Reserve the soaking liquid.

Cut the sausage into 1/2″ dice.

Mix 1 TB light soy sauce, 1 tsp dark soy sauce, 1 TB Chinese cooking wine, 1/2 c of the mushroom soaking liquid, and 1 TB cornstarch.

Heat a wok over medium high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and stir until just starting to color. Add the chicken and its marinade and stir until the chicken has lost its pink color and is almost cooked thru. Add the mushrooms and sausage and stir for about 30 seconds. Stir the sauce mixture and add, stirring until thickened. Add ground white pepper to taste, perhaps 1/2 tsp, and 1/2 tsp sesame oil. Remove from heat and let cool.

Lay a lotus leaf half on your work surface, dull side up. If the stem end is stiff and inflexible, cut it off. Put some rice in the middle, patting it out to make a layer about 4″ wide and 3″ deep and 1/2″ thick. Put 1/8 of the filling on top of the rice. Add more rice on top and press so the filling is more or less encased in the rice (but don’t be too fussy). Fold the bottom edge of the leaf up and over the filling, fold the two sides in, then roll the whole assembly away from you to complete the wrapping. Set aside, seam side down, while you complete the others.

The wraps should be fairly tight but not so much that the leaves rip. The main thing is to portion out the rice and filling so that each of the 8 wraps contains about the same amount. But don’t be too fussy, it’s going to taste great even if they are not all pretty or equal!

At this point you can finish the wraps by steaming for 20-30 minutes. Or, you can refrigerate them for up to a day and then steam, adding some extra time because they are starting out cold.

Explore posts in the same categories: Ethnic, Miscellaneous

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