The Saturday Kitchen – Traditional Cantonese Fried Glutinous Rice

The Chinese don’t often use glutinous rice in their cooking, but when they do, one of the most delectable dishes is fried glutinous rice. The moist nuo mai fan wrapped in lotus leaves, steamed with lup cheong (Chinese sausage), black mushrooms and chicken and served at dim sum is much more common the world over. But this fried version is a not-so-distant cousin, with its roots also in Cantonese cuisine. In Singapore, it is a very common breakfast dish which you’ll find at the hawker centres, though hardly seen in proper restaurants. Perhaps it is considered too humble.

DSC08624 - Copy

My mother told me her family’s maidservant Ah Seem used to cook it when my mother was a child back in the 1930s. Ah Seem tended to cook mainly dishes from her home village back in Kaiping. While I know this is indeed a traditional dish, a nugget of information like this just brings alive that sense of continuous heritage and history with the food we eat.

Lately I have been experimenting with this fried glutinous rice dish. I like it very much but I always thought it was tricky to make. Once I got hands-on, it is surprisingly quite simple. It is cooked in a way similar to making risotto but the end result is springy dry-ish rice with a short bite, tender and moist inside. It is nicely complemented with a plethora of textures and flavours from the savoury depth of the lup cheong, the softness and fragrance of the Chinese mushrooms and the crunch of fried peanuts. The final sprinkling of spring onions is important too. Apart from making the dish look prettier, its subtle minty flavour lifts the dish with its high notes.

DSC08626 - Copy

The trick to making this  dish is to cook it over low flame, adding a little water at a time to get the rice cooking, but not to get it too soggy. Patience is paramount because the end point is rice which is moist inside, but largely dry on the outside. Having said that, it is not an arduous dish to make. Have a go at it.

Traditional Cantonese Fried Glutinous Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

1 cup glutinous rice, soaked for 2-3 hours at least
4 slices ginger
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 Tbsp oil
6 black Chinese mushrooms, soaked in 1/4 cup water and sliced
2 Tbsp dried prawns, soaked in 4 Tbsp water
1 lup cheong (Chinese sausage), sliced
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp oyster sauce
2-3 Tbsp Chinese cooking wine
Salt and white pepper to taste
2/3 cup stock (or water mixed with 1/2 tsp chicken stock powder)

3 Tbsp peanuts, skin on, toasted in a pan
2 Tbsp sliced deep fried shallots
1 Tbsp Chopped spring onions

Method
• Heat oil in a wok and sauté garlic and ginger for a few minutes until fragrant.
• Drain the dried prawns and mushrooms, but set aside their soaking liquid for use later. Add prawns, mushrooms and lup cheong into the wok to saute. Add cooking wine and fry until fragrant – about 2 minutes.
• Drain the rice and add to the wok. Toss to coat, and fry for about 2 minutes,  then add 1/4 cup of the stock as well as the prawn and mushroom soaking liquid, oyster sauce and fish sauce. Stir fry and let the rice soak up the liquid. Add salt and pepper.
• When the rice has soaked up the liquid, add another 1/4 cup and fry until it has soaked up the liquid again.
• By now it should be al dente, so proceed slowly. Keep adding 2 Tbsp of the stock and fry until the rice has soaked up the liquid, then check if it is cooked through. If it isn’t, add another 2 Tbsp stock at a time until it is done. Do so over a fairly low flame, and keep the rice quite dry.
• When the rice is fully cooked but still with a touch of al dente, turn off the flame, check on the seasoning. To serve, top with some peanuts, deep fried shallots and chopped spring onions.

Note: For added crunch, you can also sprinkle some deep fried silver bait to the dish which also gives you your day’s worth of calcium. 🙂 If you want to add a spot of ‘gourmet’ to this humble dish, add some dried scallops (soaked in water for 20 minutes, and drained) and replace oyster sauce with XO Sauce.  

DSC08636 - Copy

The Saturday Kitchen – Aromatic Tomato & Orange Rice with Rolled Oats

DSC02401

We try to eat healthily most of the time but with high cholesterol, I am trying to weave in more whole grain foods into my diet. I’m told oats is great for bringing down the cholesterol but I really don’t like eating it in porridge, so I’ve been poking around to see how else to use it. Oat, fruit and nut bars are great and I love oat cookies, but they can be full of sugar. Then recently I came across a product called ‘Oats for rice’ which is a Quaker Oats product made for the Asian market.

It’s a simple proposition: you just add it to uncooked white rice at an oats-to-rice proportion of 1:3, drop it into the rice cooker, and cook as you would ordinary rice. The idea is to increase one’s wholegrain intake. I tried it and loved it for its springy, pleasantly chewy texture and fragrant, nutty flavour. From what I see, I think you can use ordinary rolled oats for this.

While you can cook it plain with rice and eat it like in any ordinary Asian meal, I also played around with it and here’s a simple recipe I came up with. It’s super easy to make with minimal cooking skills and time required. It’s also a great way to use up leftover rice.

DSC02406

Aromatic Tomato and Orange Rice with Oats

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

This is a light dish, where the tomato, coriander and orange zest brings a little zing to the rice. Very summery, and good for anyone trying to eat slim.

2/3 cup rice, rinsed
1/3 cup Quaker Oats for Rice (or ordinary rolled oats)
11/2 cups water
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Grated rind of 1 orange
A handful of coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp virgin olive oil (or use orange-infused olive oil)

Method
• Pop the rice, oats and water in the rice cooker and cook as normal.
• When it is done, transfer the rice to a serving plate and let the steam escape for about 5 mins.
• Sprinkle salt, pepper and olive oil and toss. Then top with coriander, tomato, and orange rind.
• Toss when ready to serve.