Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Grilled Sticky Rice - Pulut Panggang

Grilled Sticky Rice or Pulut Panggang is one of my all time favorite tea time treat. The grilled sticky rice is served among a few other different types of Malay sweets and snacks including fried banana fritters, curry puffs and steamed kuehs ~ sweet Malay desserts. Be it a legacy inherited from the colonial times or just a nice elaborate break time from the heat of the mid-day sun, tea time tradition in Malaysia is a feast to be savored. Among the Peranakan ~ the Straits Chinese clan in Malaysia, pulut panggang and rempah udang are treats commonly made to celebrate auspicious occasions. Birthdays, Weddings, New Year and the likes.

Traditionally, the pulut panggang is filled with a mildly spicy coconut sambal while the rempah udang uses shrimp and dried shrimp cooked in a mild spice blend. When I first started out making grilled sticky rice, I followed Aunt Lily's recipe to emulate the sticky rice I know from my childhood. Since a few people at our party is allergic to seafood, I came up with my own filling using a blend of spice mix and chicken instead~ Sambal Serunding.

Getting the right sticky rice is important as different grade sticky rice will produce different results. In making grilled sticky rice, I usually splurge a little and get the best Thai brand sticky rice I can find at the Asian grocery. Thailand has the best sticky rice available when it comes to making Southeast Asian sticky rice treats. It involves multiple step in preparing this dish but the result is so worth it, particularly if you are a big fan of sticky rice like me.

Grilled Sticky Rice - Pulut Panggang
(Makes 25)

25 pieces 6"x3" banana leaves (washed and pat dry) - You can find frozen banana leaves at the Asian store
50 toothpicks

For the sticky rice

1 1/2lb sticky rice (washed and soaked overnight)
1 350ml-can of coconut milk ( Do not shake the can, use the cream part only)
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 pieces of pandan leaves (Washed and tied into a knot)

For the filling
1 lb chicken breast meat, baked and shred fine or 3 cups of chicken meat floss (you can find this at the Asian grocery)
1 cup grated coconuts
8 dried hot peppers (de-seed and soaked in hot water till soft)
8 shallots
1 large onion
1 lemongrass
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp coriander powder
1/8 tsp galangal powder
3 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp sugar
salt to taste


Step 1: Wash sticky rice till water runs clear. Soaked in cold water and leave on kitchen counter overnight.

Step 2: The next day, start by preparing the filling. Toast coconut in a pan till golden brown. Set aside.

Step 3: In a food processor, blend onion, shallots, hot peppers, garlic and lemongrass till fine. Heat up 3 Tbsp of oil in a pan. Add in spice blend. Cook over low heat till spice mix is aromatic, about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Step 4: Once spice mix is aromatic, add in finely shredded cooked chicken or chicken floss and toasted coconut. Toss till well combined.

Step 5: Continue to cook filling till it has all dried out. Add in sugar and salt to taste. Continue to cook till its color turned brownish, which means the spice mix is fully cooked. The filling should be dry.

Step 6: Dish filling out in a bowl and set aside.

Step 7: Prepare banana leaves. Cut into 6"x3". Washed and pat dry. Set aside.

Step 8: Lined a steamer tray with cheese cloth. Drain sticky rice into tray. Add in the knotted pandan leaves.

Step 9: Steam sticky rice over high heat for 20 minutes. Make sure water in the pot is not touching the sticky rice. You do not want mushy sticky rice.

Step 10: Meanwhile, open a can of coconut milk without shaking the content. This is the brand I use for coconut milk aside from Chao Koh brand. If you can find fresh coconut milk, use the fresh coconut milk instead.

Step 11: Skimp off the thick coconut cream at the top of the can carefully without stirring the content. Place the thick coconut cream in a bowl. Reserve the remainder of the thin coconut milk for other use. Add in sugar and salt to the coconut cream. Stir well to combine.

Step 12: Once the sticky rice is done steaming for 20 minutes, remove the pandan leaves.

Step 13: Add all the sticky rice into the bowl with coconut cream. Toss to mix well.

Step 14: Cover the bowl with a lid and let stand for 5 minutes till all coconut cream has been absorbed by sticky rice.

Step 15: Return sticky rice into the steamer tray lined with cheese cloth. Steam over high heat for another 15 minutes.

Step 16: Once sticky rice is cooked, prepare the assembly line. In a small bowl, dish out about 2 cups of sticky rice. Leave the rest of the sticky rice in the steamer tray to keep warm.

Step 17: Place a piece of banana leaves onto the board, smooth side up.

Step 18: Place about 2 Tbsp of sticky rice onto banana leaves, leaving 1 1/2 inch space all over. Press the sticky rice to make a shallow well in the center.

Step 19: Place a tsp of filling in the center of rice.

Step 20: Fold the two sides together, making sure the rice is covering the filling. Roll the parcel up into a tight roll, like sushi.

Step 21: Hold one end of the banana leaf together.

Step 22: Using a toothpick, close the end tight. Repeat with the other end of the banana leaf.

The sticky rice roll should look like this when done. You will want to roll it tight and ensure the toothpicks are holding the end securely. You do not want the parcel to fall apart during the grilling process.

Step 23: Repeat till all sticky rice and filling is used.

Step 24: To cook, grill sticky rice till the banana leaves wrap has grill mark on it. About 2 minutes per side.

It should look like this when done.

Serve warm or at room temperature. One word to describe this: Heaven!

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