Comfort Cooking: Steaming goodness of lor mai gai

Lor mai gai, which is Cantonese for glutinous rice with chicken. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

SINGAPORE - Here is a dim sum favourite that you can easily replicate at home. Lor mai gai, which is Cantonese for glutinous rice with chicken, is made up of these two main ingredients.

What I like about this dish is that it works for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Seasoning is uncomplicated - almost the same ingredients are used to marinate the chicken and flavour the rice. These ingredients should be in your pantry if you cook regularly.

I add sugar to both the chicken and the rice for sweetness. Omit it if you prefer.

The cooking method is straightforward, except there is a lot of waiting for the rice to be soaked and steamed.

It is best to use old rice if you can get hold of it. At provision shops, ask for "lao bee" in Hokkien or "lao mi" in Mandarin, which both mean old rice. Old rice does not turn mushy easily and has a springy texture.

You need boneless chicken meat such as chicken fillets, which are available at the supermarket. But these are not as easily available at wet markets. I use boneless chicken legs or quarters. While chicken leg meat is juicier, it requires more work to make sure there are no stray bones attached to the meat.

Instead of using flimsy disposable aluminium foil bowls, I use stainless steel bowls to steam the lor mai gai. If you do not have these, use ceramic bowls.

The lor mai gai can be kept for up to two weeks if you wrap it in foil and freeze it once it has cooled down. Simply reheat it when you want to eat it.

Follow Hedy Khoo on Instagram @hedchefhedykhoo, and Straits Times Food on Instagram and Facebook @straitstimesfood

Lor Mai Gai


500g raw glutinous rice

1.38 litres water

4 boneless chicken legs, skin removed (500g)

5 dried shiitake mushrooms (30g), soaked and sectioned into six portions

Ingredients for Lor Mai Gai. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Marinade for chicken

3 Tbs light soya sauce

¼ salt

¼ sugar (optional)

Dash of ground white pepper

2 Tbs sesame oil

1 Tbs cornflour

Marinate the boneless chicken thigh. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

Seasoning for rice

3 Tbs light soya sauce

1 tsp dark soya sauce

2 Tbs oyster sauce

½ tsp salt

½ tsp sugar (optional)

3 Tbs sesame oil

Equipment: Six heat-proof 300ml bowls and a piece of cheese cloth that can cover the bowl for steaming the glutinous rice.


Place the mushroom on top of the seasoned glutinous rice and steam. ST PHOTO: HEDY KHOO

1. Wash the glutinous rice. Place in a deep bowl. Add 1.2 litres of water. Set the glutinous rice aside to soak for two hours.

2. Cut each boneless chicken thigh into 4.5cm by 4.5cm bite-size pieces.

3. Place the chicken meat in a dish. Add the light soya sauce, salt, sugar, ground white pepper, sesame oil and cornflour. Mix well. Clingwrap and let it marinate in the fridge for two hours.

4. Once the rice is soaked for two hours, discard the soaking liquid.

5. Drain off excess water and place the rice in a deep heat-proof bowl. Add the light soya sauce, dark soya sauce, oyster sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Mix well.

6. Arrange the mushrooms in a layer on the rice. Cover the bowl with a piece of cheese cloth.

7. Steam the rice for one hour.

8. Remove the mushrooms from the rice and set aside in a bowl. Divide the mushrooms into six portions.

9. Divide the chicken into six portions.

10. Take one heat-proof bowl and arrange one portion of the chicken and mushrooms (gill side up) in a layer.

11. Fill the bowl with rice and pack it in tightly. Repeat for the rest of the bowls.

12. Steam for 10 minutes.

13. To serve, put a plate over the bowl, then flip over and remove the bowl.

14. Serve hot.

Serves six

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