Ooof, how I love loh mai fan or fried glutinous rice!
Not to be confused with loh mai kai, although they share common ingredients, this traditional Chinese dish is stir-fried with sausage, dried shrimps, shitake mushroom, and flavoured with aromatics. In other words, an umami bomb! In case you’re wondering about the difference between loh mai kai and loh mai fan, the former is steamed last, so the rice is softer, while the latter is stir-fried, so the rice has more bite.
Both mum and dad have cooked it before, but extremely rarely because the preparation involves numerous steps. Every ingredient has to be chopped, diced, or pre-cooked. Since I could not recall watching the cooking process from memory, I turned to youtube.
From watching numerous videos, I knew there were two main ways to approach loh mai fan
1) you steam the glutinous rice first, then stir-fry it.
2) you do a “sang chow”, or fry the rice from a raw uncooked state.
Daredevil that I was, I decided to go for the riskier way (no 2) because it saves me one extra step.
I was nervous as heck making this. Would the rice stick to the wok like beehoon and burn? How would I know if the rice was cooked or not while stir-frying it? What if I screwed things up, and wasted an entire morning of chopping and dicing? Yes, this is one of those Chinese recipes that require enough chopping and dicing to make your arms fall off.
But the intrepid explorer in me said, don’t fear the unknown Bunny. Everything will be all right.
I wanted to cry after making it. Ask my husband. I sat frozen in shock digesting the surreal fact that my first ever loh mai fan turned out well, in fact more delicious than I dared imagine. Although the next time I would let it steam a little longer so that the rice is softer.
With that, I am pleased to present to you my recipe of loh mai fan, cooked on 4 April during the COVID19 MCO ☺
Loh Mai Fan
- 1 cup glutinous rice, soaked in water minimum 5 hours and drained
- 4 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water and chopped (reserve water)*
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in water and roughly chopped (reserve water)*
- 1/2 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), diced into small cubes*
- 4 shallots, sliced thinly
- 3 garlic cloves, diced finely
- 1/2 inch ginger, grated
- 1 tbsp light soya sauce
- 1/2 tbsp dark soya sauce
- 1 tbsp peanuts, pounded roughly
- 1/2 stalk spring onion, chopped
- cooking oil for frying
- Heat up 2 tbs oil in wok and put in shallots. Keep your heat low so that the shallots have time to infuse the oil with its aroma without burning. Once golden brown, remove shallots and drain on paper towel.
- In the same oil, add in Chinese sausage. Fry over medium-low heat to allow its fats to render into the oil and make it flavourful without burning. When sausage starts to char lightly, remove from heat.
- In the same oil, put in dried prawns. Make sure you pat prawns dry first or else it will splatter violently! Use a wok cover to shield yourself if necessary. Fry until dried prawns are crispy and fragrant but NOT burnt – use your nose to guide you. Usually, when the prawns start to foam, it means the prawns are almost done. Remove prawns.
- In the now super flavourful oil, add garlic, ginger and mushrooms and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rice and toss to mix thoroughly with the flavoured oil for 1-2 minutes. Don’t worry, the rice won’t stick to the wok (even though the other name for glutinous rice is sticky rice).
- Now it's time to steam the rice. Sprinkle 2 tbs of the reserved mushroom and shrimp soaking water over the rice, then cover with a lid for ½ minute to 1 minute. Open the lid and give the rice a few stirs to ensure the rice is not burnt at the bottom. Repeat the same action (sprinkle water, cover with lid, after 30 seconds open lid and stir a bit) a few times until rice is fully cooked. You will be able to tell when you use your spatula to move the rice around and the rice feels heavier.
- Now add the light and dark soya sauce, dried shrimp and lap cheong. Mix thoroughly to coat every grain.
- Taste to see if rice is cooked to your liking. If you prefer the rice to be softer, add more water and continue the same process until the rice achieves your desired texture.
- Dish up and sprinkle with chopped spring onion and fried shallots. Delish!
- How much water to soak mushrooms and shrimp? Chinese cooking is all about eyeballing, so as a rule, just use enough water to cover the tops of the mushrooms/shrimps.
- Some lap cheong will be harder than others, so use your discretion. I used a chicken lap cheong which has lower fat content (and is more healthy!) than regular pork lap cheong. Without the extra fat, the meat is a little harder, so to soften it, I soak the sausage in hot water for 15 minutes. Then I remove the outer casing and cut each sausage vertically into four strips, before dicing them into small squares.
- I prefer to separately pre-fry my shrimps, shallots and lap cheong. Other recipes suggest you fry them together but as I am not such an experienced cook, I prefer to do it separately so that I don’t risk burning them. Experiment and see ☺
- You do need some cooking experience to tell from the appearance and smell of ingredients as they’re being cooked, whether they’ve achieved the right level of cooked-ness (if there’s such a thing). So on a difficulty level, I'd rate this as intermediate - but who knows, maybe you're a faster learner than I am, so go ahead, try it!