Lotus leaves are large bright green leaves from the aquatic lotus plant. Fresh lotus leaf is sweet in taste with a hint of bitterness. Dry lotus leaves are used to add a fresh earthy tea scent to foods, most often steamed dumplings. The lotus leaf, by virtue of its Chinese name, he ye, is prized as a symbol of harmony and peace.
In Thai cooking lotus leaves are used to wrap sticky rice (see recipe below) and fried rice. Chinese cuisines favors dim sum made up of sticky rice, Chinese sausage, glistening mushrooms, lotus seeds and other delectable morsels. Another famous dish using lotus leaves is Beggar's Chicken. This dish originates, according to Asian folklore, when a beggar stole a chicken from a feudal lord. To stop the cooking odors from attracting attention, the beggar wrapped the hen in a lotus leaf and mud from the lotus pond before roasting it.
Lotus leaves are considered a neutral herb in Chinese medicine, with the ability to clear summer heat, alleviating fevers and aiding digestion. It has wonderful curative properties as it can heal bruises, reduce muscle spasms and stop bleeding and also ease dizziness and nausea.
Dried leaves should be soaked about an hour then rinsed before use. Chef Lam Wan Loong suggests lining lotus leaves with bamboo leaves to keep glutinous rice mixtures from sticking to the leaves. Also use lotus leaves to line bamboo steamers to steam fish and meats.
Note lotus leaves can vary widely in size, so adapt to your recipe accordingly. The leaves available here are approximately 18" long and 10" wide. Each package contains about two dozen leaves. Store well sealed in a cool dry place indefinitely.
Sticky Rice Wrapped in Lotus Leaf
- Soak lotus leaves for 30 minutes, weighing down with a small bowl if necessary. Fry chinese sausage. Set aside.
- Steam sticky rice using a little less water than usual for firm rice. Cool to room temperature.
- Put oil into pan and fry garlic until turning golden yellow. Add rice, mushroom, shrimp, and soy sauce. Stir until all ingredients are cooked.
- Pat dry softened lotus leaf and brush back of the leaf lightly with oil. Cut leaf in half. Put half the rice mixture on one leaf and top with salted egg. Wrap rice in a rounded bundle. Repeat with the other half. Either cook immediately or store in fridge for later use.
- Steam 10-12 minutes.
- Cut salted egg yolk into half. Put Chinese sausage and egg yolk on top. Serve.
Note: Lotus leaves can vary widely in size, so adapt to the recipe accordingly.
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