While many of us will be waking up on Thanksgiving morning to the wonderful aroma of celery, onion and sage competing with that of the roasting turkey, Chinese American families across the country will be dressing the bird with a very different, but equally delicious stuffing comprised of sticky rice, lop cheung, a Cantonese style sausage, and Chinese black mushrooms. Similar to the filling wrapped in a lotus leaf and served in a bamboo steamer at Dim Sum restaurants the world over, Nuo Mai Fan (sticky rice stuffing), is a deliciously different approach to the holiday.
A quick trip to Chinatown the day before, and you’re ready to roll. The day after Thanksgiving any leftover stuffing can be pan- fried into a crispy rice cake. Just add an egg or two, flatten into cakes the size of a hamburger, dredge in flour and fry in a little bit of oil on each side until golden, then pop in a preheated 350°F. oven until hot and crisp.
This recipe makes enough to stuff a medium sized turkey.
STICKY RICE STUFFING
2 cups sticky rice, also called sweet or glutinous rice
12 Chinese dried black mushrooms. (called dong gu, in Chinese)
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Chinese sausages (lop cheung), diced
1/2 lb. barbecued pork (cha siu), available in Chinese BBQ shops, diced
1/4 cup Chinese rice wine, or dry sherry
3 cups chicken stock, or homemade turkey broth, plus 1 cup extra if needed
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
salt and ground white pepper to taste
1 cup roasted chestnuts (available in Chinese markets in foil pouches), chopped into small pieces
1 cup chopped scallions, both green and white parts, for garnish
Wash the rice in several changes of cold water, until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in enough water to cover for several hours. You may also do this the night before. Soak the mushrooms in warm water for about 30 minutes, until softened. Drain and squeeze dry the mushrooms, reserving the liquid. Cut off and discard the tough stems, and chop up the caps into several pieces.
Heat a large pot with a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add the peanut or vegetable oil, and, when hot, stir fry the ginger and garlic about 30 seconds, being careful not to let it burn. Add the sausage and barbecued pork, the rice, the mushrooms, adding a bit more oil if necessary to coat the rice well. Add the rice wine or sherry and cook until absorbed, stirring. Add the stock, or homemade broth, soy sauce, sesame oil and oyster sauce and salt and white pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and add the chestnuts. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Check the rice for doneness. If the rice is still not done, add a bit more stock and simmer until absorbed.
The stuffing can be prepared the day before, if desired. Bring back to room temperature before stuffing the turkey. Make sure that the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F.
Optionally the stuffing can be prepared as described, and served on the side. When serving as a side dish, garnish with the chopped scallions.
written by Jim Becker, Chinatown Guide