Spicy Fried Rice with dried shrimps, carrots, green beans, eggs, and homemade fried chili paste.…
Hor Yip Fan is a fragrant and delicious rice wrapped in lotus leaf usually served at the end of a wedding feast or festival dinner.
This year I made a special effort for our Chinese New Year dinner preparing 12 dishes in all. One of them is this Hor Yip Fan (Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice) which I have always wanted to make but not found the time until now. I made this twice – once for our dinner on Chinese New Year’s day when my sons returned home from campus and the other for this video. Paul wasn’t complaining because we have not eaten it in a while. The second time we ate just this rice for dinner and almost finished the entire thing between the two of us. It was delicious!
Hor Yip Fan (Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice)
There are many versions of Hor Yip Fan. This one that is my focus today is not made with glutinous rice like Lo Mai Gai but wrapped in lotus leaf found at the dimsum restaurants. This version is the one I remember eating as a kid at Chinese 10-course wedding banquets where it is served at the very end as a “filler” in case someone needed more food to fill their tummies. The adults may not care for the fried rice or the Hor Yip Fan at the end but the kids always loved them. What do the adults know right? 😉 They are missing out on the best part of the dinner.
Anyways, the server always cut open the bowl-shaped lotus leaf packet and the fragrant, delicious rice will spill out. It is moist yet fluffy and filled with goodies like lap cheong (Chinese sausage), mushrooms, and dried shrimps. I loved it and look forward to it each time we attended a wedding dinner. I am not sure if they still serve this today but it was pretty “standard” back in the old days.
To make Hor Yip Fan, you obviously need lotus leaves. Dried lotus leaves may be purchased at the Asian markets and they need to be cleaned and softened for use. As with all dried leaves used for wrapping food, always rise, soak, and boil the leaves. This will make them ready for use. Unless you get perfect leaves, it is better to prepare more than one just in case you need a second leaf to patch the first. You can see in the video that I did use two leaves instead of one.
Depending on the size of the lotus leaves and bowl, you may have to trim them accordingly so that you will get a neat and tidy packet. However, do not trim the leaves too much until there is not sufficient overhang of leaves to completely cover the rice. You should be able to make a rough estimate by folding it over the bowl.
Partially Cooking the Rice on the Stove
Steamed rice takes a very long time to cook. By steaming, I mean placing the rice in a bowl on a steaming rack as opposed to cooking the rice in a pot but still calling it “steamed” rice. If you do not precook the rice on the stove, you will need to steam this Hor Yip Fan for hours and that is not a good thing unless you are very patient and have lots of time on your hands. Remember, it also means you have to keep topping up the water in the steamer. So, partially cooking it on the stove is the way to go. If you would still like to try steaming it from the beginning, I suggest soaking the rice first like what we do when we steam glutinous rice.
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Hor Yip Fan (Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice)
- 2 dried lotus leaf
- 2 lap cheong (Chinese sausage)
- ¼ cup dried shrimps (30g)
- 2 Chinese mushrooms
- 1 cup long grain rice (200g)
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 carrot (finely diced)
- 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1¼ cups chicken broth (300ml)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 green onions (thinly sliced)
- Rinse and soak lotus leaves in the sink. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Remove lotus leaves from sink and transfer them to the pot. Weigh down the leaves with a plate. Place lid over the pot and boil leaves for 10 minutes. Remove, rinse, and drain.
- Soak lap cheong in hot water for about 20 minutes. Casings should puff up. Remove casings and slice lap cheong at a diagonal.
- Rinse and soak Chinese mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. When soft, rinse, drain and cut into thin strips.
- Rinse and soak dried shrimps in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain.
- Rinse and drain rice 4 to 5 times. Set aside.
- Fry lap cheong in a medium size pot until lightly brown. No need to use any oil. Remove and set aside.
- Fry dried shrimps in rendered oil from lap cheong until lightly brown. Remove and set aside.
- Add vegetable oil to pot. Sauté garlic for 20 seconds.
- Add carrots and mushrooms. Continue to stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add rice and dark soy sauce. Continue to stir fry until all ingredients are well mixed.
- Pour in chicken broth. When broth comes to a boil, add salt and ground pepper. Place lid over the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 7 minutes.
- While rice is cooking, arrange lotus leaves in a shallow bowl with the underside of the lotus leaves upwards. Make sure the leaves overlap holes in the leaves. Trim the leaves if they are too big but make sure there is sufficient length for folding over the bowl.
- Arrange fried lap cheong at the base of the bowl.
- Fill a large pot with an inch of water. Place a metal rack in the pot. Bring water to a boil.
- Rice should be partially cooked by now and most of the liquid will have been absorbed. Turn off stove and stir in fried dried shrimps.
- Spoon partially cooked rice into the bowl over the arranged lap cheong. Drizzle sesame oil over the rice and fold lotus leaves neatly over the rice.
- Transfer bowl into the steamer and steam over medium heat for 30 minutes.
- When done, remove bowl from the steamer. Invert onto a plate.
- When cool enough to handle, cut lotus leaves with knife or scissors into sections to expose the rice.
- Serve immediately.
Hor Yip Fan (Lotus Leaf Wrapped Rice) is delicious served on its own with a side of cut red chilies dipped in soy sauce. If you wish to have a side dish, may I suggest this Yu Choy Sum or this Wat Tan Gai Choy. It will also go nicely with a bowl of Leng Ngau Tong (Lotus Root Soup). Bon Appetit!