Way back when I was 15, I sat for my “domestic science” final exam (and that was the extend of my formal culinary education). I chose to make this snack of sweet rice rolls with a spicy shrimp filling. It encompassed, steaming, sauteing, grilling – 3 in 1 – what’s more a guarantee to wow the examiner. And I got an “A”. I practised like 30 times on my family, and needless to say I have not made this since that exam 3+ decades ago. This is the exact recipe, translated from Malay and below is a copy of my recipe book – oh what beautiful cursive handwriting I had then!
2 cups sweet glutinous rice
2 pieces pandan, tied into knots each
2 cups coconut milk, reserve 2 Tablespoons
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz shrimp, peeled, cleaned, cut into ½ inch dice
1 slice ginger, finely minced
½ inch turmeric, finely minced
1 stalk lemongrass, finely sliced
2 shallots, finely minced
1 Fresno chili, finely minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fennel, toasted, ground
2 Tablespoons water
½ cup shredded coconut, reconstituted with a little water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
8 Banana leaves 4X 6”, blanched in hot water
Preparing the rice.
Wash the rice. Place rice into two separate bowls and add water till it covers the rice by 1 inch. Let rice soak at least 6 hours to overnight.
Cooking the rice.
Drain rice. Place the rice evenly on a cheesecloth. Place in a steamer rack. Add a knot of pandan to each of the rice. Steam for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, stir in salt to the coconut milk. Add milk to the rice, enough to barely cover, and stir to mix. Continue steaming for another 15 minutes. Test for doneness i.e., the rice is tender and cooked through.
Cooking the shrimp filling
Heat oil in a skillet, add finely minced gingers, lemongrass and cook until fragrant. Add shrimp and shallots, fresno chili, red pepper flakes and fennel, and water and cook another minute until fragrant. Add coconut and salt to taste. Cook until mixture is dry.
Wrapping the parcel
Blanch banana leave to soften. Brush with coconut milk. Place two heaping tablepoons of cooked rice in the center, followed by a scant tablespoon of filling. Spread to form a log. Roll up the cylinder and seal the ends with toothpick. Place on grill until browned and fragrant.
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