Almost every Chinese family I know makes this sticky rice dish (known as nuo mi fan or you fan) in place of traditional stuffing during Thanksgiving. In fact, for me and most of my friends, it's the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner! My mother in law does a better job with it than I do, so even though I've hosted Thanksgiving the past two years, I always ask her to bring the "Chinese Stuffing". I also always ask her to make extra so that we can keep the leftovers, though there's never much left because, like I said, it's the highlight of Thanksgiving dinner. When people are packing up doggy bags at the end of the night, the hubz makes it known that the leftover nuo mi fan is off limits :)
The reason my mother in law's version of nuo mi fan is better is because it's just somehow more fragrant than mine. I thought it was the fried shallots, but no matter how much I put in, it's still not the same. I'm going to have to watch her make it and steal her secrets one of these days, but for now, my version is not bad either. In fact, it's pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
I make my nuo mi fan in 3 different methods, depending on how lazy I'm being. I believe the traditional way is to fry it a bit first, and then steam it to finish it off, but that also requires the most work. My semi-lazy way is just to stir fry it the whole way through and skip the steaming. This yields just as good results in my opinion, so this is the method I use the most. And my lazy way is to the user rice cooker. It's super quick and easy and can be done with just a little prep, then you can "set it and forget it". The rice cooker method produces grains of rice that don't quite have the same resistance as the other methods, but it still tastes great and will save you a lot of time.
For today, I decided to go with the steaming method, but I'll explain all 3 below...
- 2 cups of glutinous rice (the package might say sweet rice on it)
- 6 Dried Shitake Mushrooms (you can use more or less depending on your personal preference)
- 4 Xiang Chang (or Lap Cheong in Cantonese) which is a Chinese Sausage. Again, you can use more or less of it, depending on your personal preference.
- Soy Sauce
- Oyster Sauce
- Fried shallots
- Scallions or parsley for garnish
- Rinse the rice in running water, then soak it overnight. If you plan on using your rice cooker, put the rice in the rice cooker pot and fill it to the line as you would when cooking rice normally. Otherwise, just make sure the rice is fully covered with water.
- Either the night before or the day of, soak the mushrooms to soften them. If you don't have time to wait for them to soften because you're impatient or forget to plan ahead, put them in water, pop them in the microwave for about a minute or two and then let them sit for another 5-10 minutes or so. This should soften them up faster. (Save the soaking liquid).
- Dice the mushrooms and the Xiang Chang.
- If you're using the rice cooker method, add soy sauce and oyster sauce to the rice and water to taste. Then toss in the mushrooms, xiang chang, mushroom soaking liquid (minus the grainy bits at the bottom), and a healthy dose of fried shallots. Give everything a good stir and turn on your rice cooker. When the rice cooker indicates that it's done cooking, serve it with a garnish of freshly chopped scallions or parsley.
- If you're not using the rice cooker method, heat a large wok or pan. You can add oil if you want, but I don't find it's necessary since the sausage has plenty of oil already.
- Put the xiang chang in the wok/pan and cook it until fragrant.
- Drain the rice and add it to the xiang chang, along with the mushrooms. Stir everything together so that the rice is coated with the oil from the sausage.
- Add soy and oyster sauce to taste. Also add in the reserved mushroom soaking liquid (be careful not to pour in the grainy bits that have settled at the bottom).
- Keep everything in the pan moving until the liquid has been absorbed.
- If you want to steam it, mix in the fried shallots and move everything to a steamer. Steam it until the rice is soft and chewy and no longer crunchy. Serve with scallions or parsley.
- If you want to finish it in the wok/pan, add the fried shallots and just keep stirring and flipping the rice until the rice is soft and chewy and no longer crunchy. As the rice cooks, it will get stickier and you'll find that it gets harder and harder to mix and stir, but that's okay. Keep at it! Then serve it with some scallions or parsley.