Cantonese Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaves
- 2 Cups glutinous rice
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
- 1/4 Cup small dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes and minced
- 3 Cups water
- 3 Chinese sausages (lap cheung)
- 2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 Teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
- 1/2 Cup chopped scallions
- 1 Tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
- 4 dried lotus leaves
This dish is served at dim sum, a traditional way of eating that dates back to the Ch'in Dynasty with royal origins. At least, that's how one version of the story goes. Another, equally compelling tale revolves around the Silk Route; more than 1,000 years ago, roadside tea houses used to serve small plates of food with tea to weary travelers. Whichever tale you believe doesn't change the fact that this is a delicious snack to serve with tea.
Place the glutinous rice in a large bowl and rinse until clear. Cover the rice in room temperature water and soak for 4 hours. After soaking, drain the glutinous rice.
When the mushrooms are pliable, drain and squeeze dry the mushrooms and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Cut off and discard the stems, mince the caps, and set aside. Drain the liquid from the dried shrimp and discard, squeeze dry, and mince.
Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan and use the tines of a fork to prick the sausages. Once the water comes to a boil, add the sausages and boil for 5 minutes to render the fat. Drain the sausages and rinse with cold water. Mince the sausages and set aside.
For the seasoning, combine in a small bowl the soy and oyster sauces, sesame oil, ¼ cup of the reserved mushroom liquid, sugar, and white pepper.
Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the Chinese sausage and stir-fry until the meat turns crisp and golden brown, 1 minute. Add the minced dried shrimp and mushrooms and stir-fry for 2-3 more minutes. Stir in the grated ginger and ¼ cup of the scallions and continue to sauté for several seconds.
Pour in the cooking wine and reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the drained glutinous rice to the pan and sauté until the grains of rice are well coated. Stir in the seasoning mixture and remove the pan from the heat.
To wrap the glutinous rice: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Fold the lotus leaves in half and use scissors to trim off 2 inches of the coarse stem. Cut the semicircle in half leaving 2 folded triangles. Stack the leaves into a large bowl and add boiling water until the leaves are covered. Use a plate to put on top of the leaves to keep them immersed. Reconstitute the leaves until they are pliable, about 30 minutes.
Remove the leaves from the water and pat dry. Place a fold leaf on a clean work surface with the V-shape towards you. Spoon approximately 1 cup of the sticky rice onto the lotus leaf and fold the trim end of the leaf up over the rice.
Fold in the right and left sides and roll the leaf away from you to form a tight rectangular package. Place the packet seam side down on a bamboo or metal steamer tray. Repeat with the remaining filling and lotus leaves. Steam the rice packets single layer in stacked bamboo steamer trays for 30 minutes. Serve piping hot.