Prep Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
- MAKES Approx. 6 Large Dumplings
- 1 pkg. banana leaves, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw for at least 1 hour)
- 2 cups Thai sweet rice (also known as "sticky rice", available at Asian/Chinese food stores)
- 3 3/4 cups water
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces or smaller
- 1 tsp. cornstarch stirred into 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, diced
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal or ginger, grated or cut into matchstick pieces
- 1/4 cup white wine or sherry (or cooking wine/sherry)
- some toothpicks, twine, satay sticks, or string to secure the dumplings
- STIR FRY SAUCE:
- 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and grated
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you prefer milder dumplings) OR 1-3 tsp. chili sauce
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. oyster sauce
- OTHER: oil for stir-frying
- Place the water in a pot and add the Thai sweet rice. Stir and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. (Sweet rice has a hard outer shell that needs to soften before cooking.) In the meantime, prepare the chicken, mushrooms, sauce, and other ingredients for stir-frying.
- After 20 (or more) minutes, add 1/4 tsp. salt and give the rice another stir. Place the pot over high heat. When rice-water comes to a bubbling boil, reduce heat to medium-low (around 2.5 on the dial), so that rice-water continues to boil gently.
- Place a lid askew so that it is 3/4 covering the pot (while allowing some steam to escape). Cook like this for 10 minutes, or until all (or most) the rice-water has been absorbed.
- Now turn off the heat and cover completely with lid. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. If you're planning to make the dumplings immediately, place the pot in the refrigerator to cool.
- Mix 1 tsp. cornstarch with 3 Tbsp. soy sauce until cornstarch dissolves. Pour over chopped chicken breasts in a small mixing bowl. Stir well and set aside.
- Place a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp. oil and swirl around, then add the galangal (or ginger). Stir-fry 30 seconds. Now add the chicken (together with the soy sauce/cornstarch). Tip: As you stir-fry, add 1 Tbsp. wine or cooking wine (instead of more oil) whenever the wok/pan becomes dry. After about 2 minutes (or when chicken is cooked), add the mushrooms and stir-fry another 1-2 minutes, or until mushrooms have softened.
- Add the stir-fry sauce and turn heat down to low while you stir it in. Do a taste-test, adding more lime juice if too salty for your taste, more sugar if too sour, or more fresh chili (or chili sauce) if not spicy enough. If too spicy, don't worry - the spice will be tempered later by the plain-tasting rice surrounding it. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Unfold banana leaves. Using scissors, cut one large rectangular piece (approx. 1 foot by 1 1/2 feet). Then cut a smaller piece to go inside (approx. 8-10 inch rectangle). The smaller piece is like a lining (banana leaves are naturally porous).
- Bring out the sticky rice. Note that rice must be cool enough to work with, since you will be using your hands. Scoop out enough rice to make a square patty in the center of the 2 banana leaves (the patty should be about 4" square or slightly larger, and about 1/2" thick). Now place about 1 heaping Tbsp. of the chicken stir-fry filling (or slightly more) over the rice.
- Now take another scoop of sticky rice and cover the filling (so that it's almost like a sandwich). Sticky rice is easy to work with - if you find there are places where the filling is left uncovered, simply "patch" these areas with a little more sticky rice.
- Now fold down the top of the banana leaf rectangle over the sticky rice. Holding this in place, bring up the bottom of the rectangle. Think of wrapping a present or parcel.
- Fold over the sides of the banana leaf rectangle, so that it looks like a packet. To temporarily keep the packet from opening, turn it upside-down on your counter-top.
- To Secure your banana leaf packets (keeping them from unfolding), use one of the following methods:
Using a toothpick: "Pin" the leaf by weaving the toothpick through the various layers (depending on the toughness of the leaves, you may have to do this gently, or the toothpick will break).
If you have some satay sticks around the house: Snap off the sharp end of one of the sticks (at least 3 inches long) and use this to pin the leaves together (again, weaving the stick through the leaves). Satay sticks are much stronger than toothpicks and won't break.
Finally, you can also tie the packets with string or baker's twine, like you would a small present.
- Now you can store your sticky rice dumplings in the refrigerator (no need to cover them, as they are already well protected in the banana leaves), or heat them up right away (30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees), or you can also microwave them or put them in a toaster oven. These packets are also great barbecued (turn the dumplings to cook on both sides until the leaves turn brown and crispy).
- Eat the dumplings out of the banana leaves (the leaf lends the dumpling a unique fragrance and flavor). Note that these dumplings stay good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Thereafter, wrap in plastic and freeze for up to 3 months. Then simply thaw and heat up for an easy meal or snack. Enjoy!