Monday, September 12, 2011

Nuo Mi Fan, or Chinese Sticky Rice

Nuo Mi Fan

Nuo Mi Fan, or Chinese Sticky Rice, is a Chinese household staple.  This is another recipe from Mom, who calls it Luo Mi Fan, but the pronunciation must differ by region because I can't find an "official" one in my searches.  I like mine extra sticky.  I recently discovered that lots of Chinese-Americans will use Nuo Mi Fan in place of a bread stuffing in their turkeys for Thanksgiving.  Mom always used Stovetop, and I've made my own bread stuffing from scratch for years.

Family Collage
Grandpa in the 1940s; Grandma, Dad, and my aunt

However, she said Grandpa, whom I called Ah-gong, used it to stuff his turkeys as well.  Grandpa was a native of Hainan, China, who immigrated to Singapore.  There he worked as a cook on ships, though we inherited no recipes from him.  He was on a ship during a Japanese invasion of Singapore (in the 1940s, I believe), and borders were closed and he ended up in New York City, parted from his family.  Only decades later did he locate my grandmother and Dad, and they rejoined him in New York.  But apparently during that time Grandpa engaged in practices like stuffing turkeys with sticky rice and developing a taste for Irish corned beef, which the Hainanese of Brooklyn called "salty beef."

Nuo Mi Fan Ingredients

One important thing of note is that Nuo Mi Fan usually includes dried mushrooms that are rehydrated.  But I hate mushrooms in any form.  So when Mom taught me this recipe earlier this summer, she omitted them.  That led Dad to ask, "Where are the mushrooms?"  For me the main attraction instead is the Chinese sausage, called la chang or lap cheong.  It's got a different flavor and texture from Western-style sausages, so don't substitute.  Some brands are better than others (I had an awful one once), but Mom got these straight from the butcher for me.  You can freeze them.

Regular long-grain rice won't work in this recipe.  You have to get glutinous rice, also known as sweet rice.  The grains are shorter and rounder and the result stickier, kind of like risotto.

Nuo Mi Fan
Nuo Mi Fan is traditionally plated as a dome

Dried shrimp are common in Chinese cooking, but the unfamiliarity can put some people off.  Give it a try, but if it's a deal breaker or you can't find any, omit them.


And on a side note, it's mooncake time!  The Mid-Autumn Festival starts on Sept. 12 this year, so I bought my mooncakes, or yuebing.  I've noticed some beautiful snowskin mooncakes in various colors on the blogosphere lately.  View a bunch here.

Nuo Mi Fan, or Chinese Sticky Rice
By Mom

2 cups short-grain glutinous rice
2 links lap cheong
2 shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs dried shrimp
2 tbs ginger, grated
1 tsp salt
1 tbs dark soy sauce
1 tbs oyster sauce (my addition)
1 scallion, sliced for garnish

Soak the rice in a bowl covered by several inches of water for about eight hours.  Drain.

When you're ready to make the rice, put on some water to boil in a tea kettle or pot; turn the heat down to low to keep it hot.

Soak the dried shrimp in a small bowl of hot water to rehydrate and soften them for 10 minutes.  Pour off the water and mince into smaller pieces.  You can remove the legs if you wish.

Place the sausages in a wok or large skillet, add a few tablespoons of water, and cover.  Simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Set the sausage aside to cool, then slice into bite-sized pieces.  Pour off the water.

Add 1 tablespoon of oil to your wok or skillet.  Over medium heat, saute the shallots and garlic until soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the shallots and garlic from the wok and set aside on a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil and the dried shrimp.  Saute until fragrant, about 5-7 minutes.  The oil will foam up around the shrimp a little.  Set aside on a plate with the shallots and garlic.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the wok and then add the rice.  Stir constantly, scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to avoid sticking, about 3 minutes.  Add a half-cup of the hot water to the rice and keep stirring.  After all the water has cooked off and the rice has gotten really sticky, about another 3 minutes, add another half-cup of the hot water.  Continue stirring for another 3 minutes.

Squeeze the juice of the grated ginger into the wok and discard the ginger.  Add the final half-cup of hot water, the salt, soy sauce, and oyster sauce, along with the dried shrimp, shallots, garlic, and lap cheong.  Stir and then cover the wok, letting it steam for 7 minutes, scraping the bottom once.  At this point the rice is done, but if you like it stickier, add another half-cup of water and cook another 7 minutes.  Garnish with the chopped scallions.


  1. The sticky rice looks yummy. My mother would make this in our house growing up and I think it made in appearance once in a turkey, but every other year it was Stove top lol. I'm excited to get some moon cakes my mom will be coming up soon and the Chinese bakery is on our list. :)

  2. Oh wow that looks delicious, kind of food I love. I do have dried shrimp but honestly had no idea that you eat them. I use them to prepare dashi for miso because I couldn't find bonito flakes anywhere and dried shrimp work just fine. But I always throw them away after soaking. I definitely should try them with rice like in your recipe. I'll save them next time I'll be preparing dashi.

  3. Your sticky rice is cooked to perfection. I enjoy sticky rice a lot more than steamed rice.

  4. I love sticky mom's make this dish often, but have to confess that never made it myself. Yours look so good, so shiny and full of flavor.
    Hope you have a wonderful week ahead :-)

  5. I had this rice in turkey before!!! You reminded me of how great it was. Happy Mid Autumn Festival!

  6. I love old family pictures... especially the black and white ones... they are so full of memories and love! :-) Thank for sharing them and thank you for sharing your mom's recipe for this yummy rice!


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