Chinese Sticky Rice (Nuo Mi Fan)

>>  Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sticky Rice
I love love love Chinese sticky rice.  I used to love it whenever my mom made this dish while I was growing up.  There's something about the chewy texture of sticky rice that just makes me want more.  Plus, it just reminds me of home.  It's homemade Chinese comfort food at it's best.

And what better time to enjoy good Chinese comfort food than during Thanksgiving when you're with your family?  When a friend recently asked me for the recipe for sticky rice because she wanted to make it for Thanksgiving, I happily obliged  - by writing a post, of course!
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The basic concept for this recipe is pretty simple.  Basically, you need dried black shitake mushrooms, sticky rice, and an aromatic flavoring agent such as dried shrimp, dried fried shallots, ginger, and the like. Meat is optional, but Bryan always insists on meat, so I usually add pork, but you can omit it or substitute it with another meat or with dried tofu.  I've included two versions of the recipe below.  The first one is a bit more traditional (uses dried shrimp), the second one can easily be made vegan if you omit the pork (uses ginger as a flavoring agent instead).

Chinese Sticky Rice (traditional)
Serves 4
Prep time: excluding rice soaking time, 45 minutes 
Recipe inspired by Chinese Cooking: Favorite Home Dishes (Wei quan cong shu)

 
Important: Soak 2 rice cups of sticky (glutinous) rice in water for at least 30 minutes but preferably several hours (I actually just soaked mine overnight).  Note: a Chinese rice cup is about 25% less than a traditional US "cup" measure.
Sticky Rice Cooker
The Rice
2 cups rice
1 1/2 cup water
1 T soy sauce
1 T vegetable oil (you can use sesame oil if you like its strong flavor)

In a rice cooker, combine the pre-soaked rice (drained), 1 1/2 cup water (or just fill it up to the level written on your rice cooker for 2 cups), 1 T soy sauce, and 1 T vegetable oil.  Cook rice according to the rice cooker's instructions.  The above picture shows you what the finished product will look like.

The "Goodies"
1/2 lb (225g) pork (I used pork loin) thinly sliced [can use more or less based on preference]
3 T fried shallots
2T dried shrimp
5 dried shitake mushrooms, sliced

Flavoring Agents
1/2 T cooking rice wine
2 T soy sauce
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
1 T sesame oil
Sauteing mushrooms
Soak the shitake mushrooms in hot water for about 10-15 minutes, until soft.  Slice into thin strips.  Heat 2 T oil in a wok.  Add mushrooms, dried shrimp, and deep-fried shallots.  Stir fry until fragrant (1-2 minutes).    Add the pork and cook until the pork becomes opaque, about 2-3 minutes.
Sauteing pork and mushrooms
Add the "flavoring agents" (rice wine, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and sesame oil) and stir to mix well.  Set this aside until the rice is done in the rice cooker.  Once the rice is done, combine everything together and garnish with cilantro (optional, but Bryan love cilantro so it becomes a garnish for everything . . actually, he even eats it like a vegetable sometimes.  Yeah, seriously.  Like full stalks).

Enjoy!
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Note: Some people are really turned off by dried shrimp.  If you are one of those people, here is a modified recipe that works pretty well.  This modified recipe can also be used for a vegetarian or vegan version of this dish - just omit or replace the pork with something like 5-spice dried tofu.

Chinese Sticky Rice (Ginger-based)
adapted from Homestyle Cooking of Taiwan by the members of NATWA

2 cups rice
5 dried mushrooms
10 slices of ginger
1/4 to 1/2 lb of pork (optional)
1 1/4 cup hot water
2 T soy sauce

Crush the ginger slices in a plastic bag with a rolling pin to release the ginger "juices".  Heat 2 T sesame oil in a wok and brown the crushed ginger in the oil.  Once browned, remove the ginger slices.  Now saute the pork and mushrooms in the ginger flavored oil. Add soy sauce.

At this point, you can either add the cooked rice made from the above rice cooker method or add the soaked (but not yet cooked) rice to the wok.

Rice cooker method
Combine the cooked rice with the "sauce" (pork, mushrooms, etc) and serve.

Wok Method
Add the soaked rice to the wok, stir to combine ingredients, and add 1/2 cup hot water.  Cover wok and cook at high heat for 2 minutes.  Stir again and add the remaining 3/4 cup of hot water.  Continue stirring until rice is cooked.  Cover wok and cook at low heat for an additional 10 minutes.  Serve.

Enjoy! This one's for you, Jess!
Sticky Rice

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