Grandma's Nyonya Style Rice Dumplings

Updated: Jun 4

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Duanwu or Dragon Boat or Rice Dumplings Festival is just a few days away. To be honest, I am not a fan of rice dumplings. Maybe it is just me, but the rice tends to be too gooey and mushy for me, the flavors of the fillings are quite bland after cooking for hours too. Don't you agree?



That's one of the reasons why I decided to go an unorthodox route and create this open-faced version. The rice and fillings are cooked separately, instead of the traditional method which is wrapping them into pyramids and boiling them for 2 hours.



I used a 3 tier electric steamer to cook the rice until al dente. The fillings were then steamed on top of the rice to allow any juices to drip onto the rice. I also steamed the rice on some bamboo leaves and pandan just to have that rice dumplings aroma. I had included steps for the traditional method down below too, just in case.



As far as I can remember, my grandma used to make these Nyonya style rice dumplings by the hundreds. She would sell or give to her neighbors and anyone who passed by during this festive season.



I would sit quietly in her kitchen and watch her wrap the dumplings tirelessly. I can feel her joy. Needless to say, making these dumplings in this festive season is like paying homage to her and every bite is reminiscing nostalgic memories. In closing, I hope you will give this recipe a try.


 

Ingredients:

(Serve 8 / Make 20 Dumplings)

  • Prepared The Night Before:

  • Dried Bamboo Leaves, 40 Less or More

  • Chinese Dried Mushrooms, 40g

  • Rice:

  • Organic Dried Blue Pea Flowers, 10g

  • Glutinous White Rice, 1kg

  • Chicken Stock Room Temperature, 1.5kg

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • White Pepper, Pinch

  • Mushroom Powder, Pinch

  • Chinese Dried Mushrooms, 6

  • Dried Scallops, 30g

  • Dried Shrimps, 10g

  • Chicken:

  • Chicken Thigh Skinless Boneless, 600g

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • White Pepper, Pinch

  • Mushroom Powder, Pinch

  • Garlic Powder, 1 TSP

  • Demerara Sugar, 1 TBSP

  • Chinese 5 Spice Homemade, 1 TSP

  • Maltose / Maple Syrup, 1.5 TBSP

  • Hoisin Sauce, 1.5 TBSP

  • Oyster Sauce, 1 TBSP

  • Light Soy Sauce, 1.5 TBSP

  • Dark Soy Sauce, 1 TBSP

  • Sesame Oil, 1/2 TBSP

  • Shao Xing Wine / Hua Tiao Wine, 2 TBSP

  • Dumplings:

  • Duck Fat, For Stir Frying

  • Shallots Finely Chopped, 3 or Red Onion Finely Chopped, 1

  • Sea Salt, Pinch

  • White Pepper, Pinch

  • Granulated Sugar, Pinch

  • Garlic Finely Minced, 8 Cloves

  • Ginger Finely Minced, 2 Inches

  • Light Soy Sauce, 1 TBSP

  • Unsalted Butter, 1 TBSP

  • Coriander Powder, 2 TBSP

  • Candied Winter Melon Finely Diced, 150g

  • Scallions, Finely Chopped, 1 Bunch

  • Nori Flakes, Pinch

  • Assembly:

  • Hemp Strings, For Tying

  • Pandan Leaves, A Handful

 

Equipment:

  • Large Cast Iron Skillet / Pan

  • Electric Double Deck Steamer / Bamboo Steamer 2 Decks

  • 2 Large Heavy Pots

 


Directions:

  1. Please visit my "How To Make Chinese 5 Spice" page for the recipe.

  2. Prepare the night before:

  3. Soak bamboo leaves in water. Put some weight to fully submerge.

  4. Set aside overnight.

  5. Soak the dried mushrooms in some water and set aside overnight.

  6. Prepare the rice.

  7. In a large bowl, add the blue pea flowers and 800g of warm water.

  8. Give it a stir to release its color.

  9. Set aside to cool.

  10. Drain and discard the flowers, keeping the wonderful blue colored water.

  11. Wash the glutinous rice under running water and drain.

  12. Keep washing and draining about 5 times or until the rice is slightly clear.

  13. Weigh the rice and transfer 2/5 into the blue colored water, making sure the rice is fully submerged.

  14. Season with salt, white pepper and mushroom powder,

  15. Stir to combine well and set aside overnight.

  16. Transfer the remaining rice into another large bowl.

  17. Add in chicken stock, mushrooms, scallops, shrimps, salt, pepper and mushroom powder, making sure the rice is fully submerged.

  18. Stir to combine well and set aside overnight.

  19. Prepare the chicken.

  20. Finely minced the chicken with a cleaver. Chop chop chop.

  21. Transfer into a large bowl, along with the rest of the ingredients.

  22. *If you are using maltose, steam for 5 mins or until the maltose has liquified for easier handling.*

  23. Mix until well combined (it is much better to mix with your clean hand).

  24. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge overnight.

  25. Prepare the dumplings.

  26. Remove the bamboo leaves from the water and wash them thoroughly under running water.

  27. Wipe dry with a kitchen towel. Set aside to air dry.

  28. Next, fish all the hydrated dried mushrooms and dried scallops out.

  29. *Do not discard the mushroom water.*

  30. Finely dice the mushroom and shred the scallops by simply pulling them apart.

  31. Followed by draining the blue colored rice. Discard the water.

  32. Drain the other bowl of rice too. Discard the water as well.

  33. In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 TBSP of duck fat.

  34. Once the duck fat has melted, add in the marinated chicken.

  35. Break the chicken into small pieces with a spatula.

  36. Saute until lightly browned.

  37. Continue cooking until the chicken releases its juices.

  38. Cook until the juices start to evaporate.

  39. Remove from heat and set aside.

  40. In the same skillet, add 1 TBSP of duck fat.

  41. Once the fat has melted, add in the shallots.

  42. Season with salt, white pepper and sugar.

  43. Saute until lightly caramelized.

  44. Add in the garlic and ginger.

  45. Saute until aromatic.

  46. Deglaze with a splash of that mushroom water.

  47. Add in the diced mushrooms and shredded scallops.

  48. Saute until well combined and until the mushrooms are lightly caramelized.

  49. Add in the light soy sauce and butter.

  50. Saute until the butter has melted.

  51. Deglaze with another splash of that mushroom water.

  52. Add in the chicken and all its juices.

  53. Saute until well combined.

  54. Add in coriander powder and saute to combine well.

  55. Deglaze with a final splash of that mushroom water.

  56. Add in the diced winter melon, scallions and nori flakes.

  57. Saute until well combined or until the winter melon is translucent.

  58. Taste and adjust for seasonings with salt, pepper and mushroom powder.

  59. Remove from heat and set aside.

  60. *I am doing an open-faced concept as shown in the photos. You can choose to wrap the rice and fillings up into pyramid-shaped dumplings if desired. I will include the steps for both concepts.*

  61. Open-faced concept:

  62. I am using an electric double-decker steamer. You can use 2 decks of bamboo steamers and steam in a wok over medium heat with water.

  63. Lay bamboo leaves on the steamer.

  64. Lay some pandan leaves over the bamboo leaves.

  65. Spoon in the glutinous rice, white and blue separating from one another, over the top.

  66. Season with salt, pepper and mushroom powder.

  67. Tied 2 knots of pandan leaves and place them on top of the rice.

  68. *This is your bottom deck.*

  69. Cover and steam for 40 mins.

  70. Spoon the chicken and mushroom over another deck of the steamer.

  71. Spreading out evenly.

  72. Place this deck over the rice deck.

  73. Steam together for another 30 mins or until the rice is al dente and not too mushy.

  74. *I did it this way so that the flavors of the chicken mixture will infuse the rice and vice versa. I cook the rice 1st cos the rice takes a longer time to cook.*

  75. Remove from heat and transfer onto a serving plate.

  76. Garnish with scallions and serve immediately.

  77. If you want the same presentation as shown in the photos, place the white rice into a 4-inch pastry ring. Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice. Lastly, the blue rice. With the back of a spoon to compact every layer. Garnish with some scallions.

  78. Wrapped concept:

  79. Soak the hemp strings with water.

  80. Cut the pandan leaves into 2 inches long.

  81. Take 2 bamboo leaves, one on top of the other, take the halfway point, fold and form it into a cone shape.

  82. Place a pandan leaf into the cone.

  83. Add 1/2 TBSP of the blue rice into the cone. Pack it down firmly.

  84. Add 1 TBSP of white rice, packing it down firmly.

  85. Followed by 2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture.

  86. Add 1 more TBSP of white rice over the top, packing it down firmly.

  87. Fold the leaves down and form a pyramid shape.

  88. Tie the dumplings tightly with hemp strings.

  89. *It takes a few practices until you get it right. Most importantly is to tie the dumplings tightly.*

  90. Repeat the process for the remaining dumplings.

  91. I managed to get 20 dumplings in total.

  92. Fill 2 large heavy pots with water to 1/4 away from the brim.

  93. Bring it up to a boil and add the dumplings.

  94. Cover and boil for about 2 hours.

  95. At the 2 hours mark, remove one of the dumplings, unwrap and test if it is cooked.

  96. If it is cooked, remove it from heat and hang to drain off excess water. Remember to add a tray below to catch the drippings.

  97. It will taste better the next day after the dumplings have cooled down completely.

  98. Unwrap and enjoy.


Decided to cook with my electric steamer instead...


The chicken-mushroom concoction...


I am not a fan of this method of cooking...


I still prefer cooking them separately. The rice isn't mushy and gooey. The flavors are still intact.

 

Recipe Video:



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