Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shrimp

My first Chinese sticky rice experience was in high school at my friend’s house. My friend’s mom, Mrs. Young, was an amazing Chinese home cook and it was always a treat to have dinner at their place. Mrs. Young was originally from China, but lived in Vietnam before emigrating to the US, and you can taste the Vietnamese influence in her cooking. One of my favorite dishes that she made was her sticky rice. The sticky rice had tender pork, shiitake mushrooms and dried shrimp and was a beautiful caramel color. It was savory and slightly sweet and had the perfect texture. Mrs. Young was always kind of enough to pack extra for me to take home. It was best sticky rice I’ve ever had.

I lost contact with my friend about 15 years ago and for years have regretted not learning how to make her mother’s wonderful sticky rice. Since then, I have had many versions of the dish in the San Gabriel Valley and have finally come up with a good recipe for it. In this recipe, I have incorporated the steaming method my mom taught me when making Korean sticky rice for a dessert called yak-shik, but added all the Chinese flavors for sticky rice. Also, I added homemade Vietnamese caramel sauce to give it that great dark color. The combination of all the techniques and flavors produces a sticky rice close to my memory of Mrs. Young’s version. Try this recipe. I promise it won’t disappoint!

Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage and Shrimp

Serving Size: 4-6

2 cups of sweet rice (medium-grain or short-grain), soaked in water for 30 minutes
Non-stick cooking spray, vegetable oil based
1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, divided
3 slices of ginger, 1/2″ thick and 1 1/2 inches long
2 Chinese sausages, casing remove and thinly sliced* or 1/2 cup of roasted pork strips
2 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced**
1/4 cup of dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes***
3 scallions, thinly sliced and divided
1 tablespoon of mirin
2 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon of roasted sesame oil
Freshly grated pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons of dark Vietnamese caramel sauce or 1 tablespoon of molasses****

1. In a medium steamer (2 quart-size), coat the steamer basket with non-stick cooking spray.

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2. Give the sweet rice a good rinse over a fine-meshed sieve. Transfer the rinsed rice into steamer basket.

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3. Add a generous amount of hot water into the base of the streamer. Cover and steam over high heat for 30 minutes. Add additional hot water to the base of the steamer, as needed.

4. Meanwhile, heat a 12-inch sauté pan to medium-high. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the ginger pieces and sauté for 30 seconds.

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5. Add the Chinese sausage slices and the shiitake mushrooms. Sauté until the sausages get a little crispy (about 5-7 minutes).

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6. Drain the soaked dried shrimp and add them to the pan. Sauté for 1 more minute.

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7. Add the mirin and sauté for 30 more seconds. Remove the ginger pieces. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil and a couple of turns of the pepper mill. Pour the mixture into the sauté pan. Add 2/3 of the sliced scallions.

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8. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

9. Remove the lid off the steamer with the par-cooked sweet rice. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock directly to the rice and stir to moisten the rice. Add the cooked sausage/mushroom/shrimp mixture and 2 tablespoons of dark caramel sauce on top of the sweet rice. Stir with a wooden spoon to coat the rice and evenly distribute the ingredients.

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10. Replenish the base of the steamer with more hot water. Cover and steam for 20-30 more minutes (stirring a couple of times in between for even steaming) or until the rice is fully cooked.

11. Add the remaining sliced scallions on top of the cooked sticky rice.

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12. Serve with chili sauce and pickled vegetables. Enjoy!

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Sweet rice can be found in most Asian markets. Sweet rice is chalk white in color, unlike the more common translucent white rice. Make sure not to purchase the long-grain version, or the recipe will not be successful.   Shirakiku sells a 2-pound bag option.

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*There are several Chinese sausage brands. I prefer Kam Yen Jan’s Chinese sausage. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find nitrate-free options.

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**When purchasing fresh shiitake mushroom, try to purchase them locally or purchase the ones grown in the US. There are inferior versions being shipped from overseas you want to avoid.

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***You can find dried shrimp in the refrigerator section at most Asian markets. Make sure you soak the dried shrimp in warm water to reconstitute them before using.

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****I make my own caramel sauce using Andrea Nguyen’s recipe. It is pretty easy to make and stores in a dark pantry. If you don’t want make your own, you can use molasses instead.

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