Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Lemper Ayam (Glutinous Rice with Chicken Floss)
Traditionally, lemper comes in banana leaves as wrappers, then grilled on open fire. The charred banana leaves lend this smoky flavor the the 'patties'. But nowadays, lots of places just wrap a sliver of banana leaves around it, less hassle. That said, I just semi wrap it with banana leaves band. Ugh..I feel silly for having to say this, but these leaves are just for show - decoration! Not intended for consumption. Things like this, escapes my mind and often, put our friends to the risk of 'chewing leafy' stuff. Good thing Vik has always been very good in reminding such things to our friends/guests, sometimes he also insists on signing consent form. ;)
The 'right' way of making the rice part is to steam it, then mixing it with boiling coconut milk, and steam it again until it's cooked. I find it a tad time consuming and plus the only steamer I have is just too small for this purpose. So, I just have been 'cooking' it like any rice cooking - no complaints so far.
- 1/2 kg glutinous/ sticky rice, soak for about 1 hour.
- 350 cc coconut milk
- 1 stalk lemon grass, wacked
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar
- 2 cooked chicken breast, shredded very finely (thus, the name 'floss')
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 piece of galangal
- 3 shallots, chopped finely
- pinch of salt
- pinch of sugar (to taste)
- 1 stalk lemon grass, whacked
- 1 bay leaf
- 150 cc coconut milk
- banana leaves for wrapping (optional)
- Cook soaked rice with low heat (do not need any extra water at this point), for about 20 minutes. It should be half cooked by then.
- Pour coconut milk into rice mixture. Turn up the heat a little bit and let it come to boil. Turn the heat back to medium low. Stir ocassionaly until rice soak up all the liquid.
- Cover and cook until it's done - about another 20 minutes.
- Grind coriander, cumin, galangal, shallots, sugar and salt to paste. Fry in little oil.
- Toss in chicken, bay leaf, lemon grass, coconut milk to pan. Stir and cook filling until it's only slightly damp.
There are many ways in shaping this dish. The 'best-professional' looking ones, and I believe the most used method in Indonesian kitchen is to use rectangular shape cookie cutter kind of mold. It was specially made for this, but basically a rectangular cookie cutter. Press 2 tbsp of rice to base of mold, pack it up, fill with 2 tsp of filling. Top with another 2 tbsp of rice. I only did this version..total of ...ONE time! I lost my cool by the third one. Too tedious.
Another way is to use big baking sheet/ pan, same idea, but just making bigger slab at once. Then cut it up to smaller rectangular. I use very slender baking pan/mold - 3x9x2. It's designed for stacked layered cake. But I found it perfect for this purpose too. Then, cut to 1.5x2 rectangular (after trimming the side). Dip knife to water between slicing/cutting to prevent stickiness. Oh, and also, when shaping/molding/patting rice mixture to pan, it helps to dip fingertips lightly to oil first, to prevent messy stickiness.
Some fancy places roll it up - sushi roll style. Come to think of it, probably the easiest method of all, huh? But it's just one of those things I insist to 'preserve', lemper should be rectangular. :)
Quick notes about photos: in up coming entries, there will be some that will have multiple unneccasary shots. Testing out some tips for taking better food photos. Love looking at good photographs - enjoy strolling to galleries that house photography stuff. A good audience, that I am. Completely helpless with camera and doubt that I will be anything great with it in near future - just like gardening. That said, I do want to take better food pictures. So, after some whining and all, a dear friend sent me three mock-up of 'mini studio.' Thank you, Magnus!! He tried to give me some pointers in words but my mind just draw a blank (45 degrees to where?!) Which is very oxymoron, considering that I make my living by imagining things. So, he sent me sketches/images!!!
Still not very comfortable yet, but I absolutely start to see how it can be.....extra frustrating!!! :) Nawh, getting there, getting there. Any easy tips are always welcome.