Chicken Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

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Chicken sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf is a classic Cantonese Dim Sum dish. It is said this dish was born in the night market of Guangzhou before the 1950s. Initially, the sticky rice and bite-size chicken pieces were packed in porcelain bowls and then steamed.

Later on, the hawkers packed the sticky rice and its fillings in lotus leaves for the convenience in carrying them around. This adjustment brought about at least two benefits.

First, the lotus leaves added a distinctive floral aroma to the sticky rice and its fillings.

Second, the portion of the sticky rice and its fillings is no longer limited to the size of the bowls. So on top of the sticky rice and the chicken, the vendors started to incorporate more savory ingredients such as Chinese sausage, dried shrimps, and mushrooms. Some even added char siu, dried scallops, and salty egg yolks in it as well for an additional layer of flavors.

For our recipe today, we rehydrated the lotus leaves the night before. Then steam the presoaked sticky rice until cooked. Meanwhile, stir-fry together, the marinated chicken and Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. Add a flavorsome sauce to both the fillings and the cooked sticky rice.

To assemble, scoop the sticky rice and the toothsome fillings in the center of lotus leaves. Fold the lotus leaves into a pocket.

Lastly, steam the pockets until the floral aroma of lotus leaves permeate your entire kitchen.

Serves: 6 people
Prep time: overnight, plus 2 hours
Cook time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

For the chicken:
2 chicken thighs, skinless, boneless, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
Pinch of five-spice powder
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of salt

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of five-spice powder
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of salt

Additional ingredients:
3 lotus leaves, quartered, rehydrated in water overnight (you can buy these at any Chinese supermarket, or online)
2 cups sticky rice, presoak in water for 2 hours
1 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated in water for 2 hours, sliced
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, rehydrated in water for 2 hours
2 Chinese sausage, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced

The night before:

Rehydrated the lotus leaves in water overnight.

Additional preparation:

Rinse the sticky rice, dried shiitake mushrooms, and dried shrimp. Place each ingredient in a separate bowl, cover with water, and let soak for 2 hours.

Drain the presoaked sticky rice. Transfer it in the pot of an electric rice cooker. Then add water in the pot to the same level as the sticky rice, or for about 1 1/4 cups. Use the setting for rice and cook.

As an alternative, if you don’t have a rice cooker, bring water to a boil in a steamer. Transfer the sticky rice on a tray and put it on the steamer. Cover the lid and steam on high heat for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, in a large bowl, mix all the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Add the chicken and combine together. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

To make the sauce, in a small bowl, add all the seasonings and whisk together.

Preheat a wok, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, and stir fry on low heat until the aroma comes out for about 1 minute. Take it out and put aside.

In the same wok, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil in it. Add the minced garlic and the marinated chicken. Cook over high heat until medium well for about 3 minutes. Transfer in the cooked Chinese sausage, dried shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms. Now put in half of the sauce. Stir fry until combined for a minute. Take them out and set aside.

After the sticky rice is done, transfer it to a large mixing bowl, and add the other half of the sauce. Combine until all the rice is colored evenly.

Assemble the chicken sticky rice in lotus leaf:

Place a lotus leaf on a flat surface. Pat dry the lotus leaf. Place another lotus leaf over it. Pat dry. Place 1/2 cup of sticky rice in the center and create a rectangular shape. Then place 2 tablespoons of the fillings over the rice. Add another 1/2 cup of rice on the fillings.

To fold it into a pocket, first, fold the bottom of the lotus leaves upward. Then fold the right side inward. Fold the left side inward, and roll it upward until it becomes a pocket. Do the same with the rest.

Cook the chicken sticky rice in lotus leaf:

In a steamer, bring water to a boil. Put each chicken sticky rice in lotus leaf on the steamer, one by one, leaving a little gap in between. Cover the lid and steam on high heat for 1 hour. (The rice is already cooked. We do this because we want the rice and the fillings to have the aroma of lotus leaves.) Add additional boiling water in the steamer after 30 minutes.


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  1. Mphomsopha says

    You make it look so simple! One day I will make your recipe, but tomorrow I’m going to make the Vietnamese version using your technique. Wish me luck! I will let you know how it turns out.

    1. CiCi says

      Let me know how it turns out! Best wishes! 🙂

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