My mom’s delicious and super easy no wrap Indonesian lemper ayam recipe is a must to have in your recipe archive. This jajanan pasar (street food) is a crowd pleaser for sure.
Lemper Ayam is definitely one of my favorite snacks and it’s a popular jajanan pasar in Indonesia. It is made with white glutinous rice with shredded chicken meat stuffed inside the rice. The chicken meat and sticky rice are cooked with aromatic spices and herbs and that’s what makes this sticky rice cake super delicious. Usually they are individually wrapped in banana leaves and then pan-fried to impart that leaves flavor into the cake. I have to admit that individually wrapping these little morsels of goodness can be quite a pain if you are not patient (I’m not!).
WHY YOU WILL LIKE THIS LEMPER AYAM RECIPE
1. IT TASTES AMAZING
I can tell you that the recipe is easy, but if it doesn’t taste good, what’s the point right? The glutinous rice is very flavorful and that first bite will remind you of Indonesia for sure 🙂
2. NO WRAP
Lemper is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves. It takes quite a bit of time to do that. This no-wrap version is sooo much easier to make and trust me, still taste amazing!
1. Glutinous rice
Use white glutinous rice or known as sticky rice or sweet rice. This is a pretty common Asian ingredient and it’s available at majority of Asian grocery store.
2. Coconut milk
Use Asian canned coconut milk. If you have access to fresh coconut milk, hey, go for it. Do not use the coconut milk made for drinking. It’s not suitable for this recipe
3. Bay leaves (daun salam)
I cannot find Indonesian bay leaves where I am. Mom brought me tons of dried daun salam. You can use regular bay leaves as substitute. The aroma is slightly different, but it’s ok.
4. Kaffir lime leaves (daun jeruk)
Kaffir lime leaves are available fresh or frozen in Asian grocery store, usually at the refrigerated section. This is an important aroma to have to make lemper
You can substitute with red/purple onions. If you must, you can use onion powder.
I recommend using fresh garlic instead of minced garlic in the jar that is packed in water or oil. If you are absolutely lazy (I’m not judging!), you can use garlic powder
7. Kencur root / Sand Ginger (kaempferia galanga)
Fresh kencur root is absolutely nowhere to be found here in Minnesota. However, I found the kencur powder on Amazon (but it’s so darn expensive though!). It is called Cutcherry Powder (Bubuk Kencur). The aroma of kencur is very unique and there’s no substitution to this. Some people say you can try ginger and galangal, but they don’t produce the same aroma as kencur. You can omit this if you don’t have any. I have some because my mom ground it up, freeze them and they traveled thousands of miles with her from Indonesia to Minnesota 🙂 For those who have had lemper before, you know it needs the aroma of kencur 🙂
8. Lemongrass (Sere/serai)
Lemongrass is widely available in Asian grocery store in fresh stalks, chopped and frozen version too. I recommend using fresh stalks.
Chicken breast is usually used to make lemper ayam. I’ve mentioned before the breast is not my favorite cut of meat, but I use it anyway in this lemper ayam recipe and it doesn’t compromise the taste in anyway. Feel free to use dark meat if you want.
The amount of sugar calls for in cooking the rice is a bit more than you would think, but trust me, you need it and it’s not going to make the rice overly sweet, in fact, lemper ayam is not supposed to be sweet, but the amount of sugar calls for is perfect.
Salt is absolutely necessary to bring out that taste as we all know it.
11. Banana leaves
I use the banana leaves to line the tray before packing the rice. It helps to impart some of the banana leaves aroma to the rice. You can absolutely skip it and just use parchment paper to line the tray.
HOW TO MAKE LEMPER AYAM
PREPARE THE CHICKEN FLOSS FILLING
1. Heat oil in a wok and saute the lemper paste until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
2. Add lemongrass stalks, kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the shredded chicken meat, water, sugar, and salt.
4. Continue to saute until the liquid dries up. The filling should be dry. Have a taste by adding more sugar and salt.
PREPARE THE GLUTINOUS RICE
1. In a large wok or pan, add the rice, coconut milk, water, and the rest of the ingredients for sticky rice. No oil is needed
2. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it simmer and continue to stir until the liquid is absorbed by the rice
3. Transfer the precooked rice to a steamer. I line the steamer rack with a silicone mat that is especially made for steaming. Put the rice on top, spread it out, and let it steam for 30 minutes or until the rice is soft and cooked through. Remove and discard the herbs.
ASSEMBLING LEMPER AYAM
1. Line a 7 x 7-inch tray with banana leaves or parchment paper.
2. Press half of the cooked warmed sticky rice on the tray by using parchment paper (so the rice won’t stick to your finger and easier to press too). Really pack it down hard!!!
3. Spread the filling evenly leaving no gap all over the rice.
4. Press the other half of the rice on top. Just like the bottom layer, really pack it down.
HOW TO CUT NO-WRAP LEMPER AYAM
1. Let the lemper ayam cool down completely before cutting.
2. Use a plastic knife or smear a thin layer of oil on the knife before cutting. Cut the lemper ayam into 24 equal pieces. You can cut into a larger piece too if you want. You can serve it as is or lightly pan fry it with a tiny bit of oil on a pan until golden brown on each side and serve
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT LEFTOVER LEMPER AYAM
REFRIGERATOR: Keep them in an air-tight container and they can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
FREEZER: For longer storage, place the lemper on a baking sheet lined with a parchment paper not touching each other and freeze for about 1 hour. Then transfer to a freezer bag and they will not stick to each other anymore.
REHEATING: Lemper needs to be reheated with moist heat (like a steamer) not dry heat (like in the oven). Simply reheat in a steamer for about 5 minutes if not frozen and about 10 minutes or until heated through if the lemper is frozen.
Now I don’t feel so “obligated” to individually wrap the lemper pieces because I know they still taste good even without the banana leaves.
DID YOU MAKE THIS EASY LEMPER AYAM RECIPE?
I love it when you guys snap a photo and tag to show me what you’ve made 🙂 Simply tag me @WhatToCookToday #WhatToCookToday on Instagram and I’ll be sure to stop by and take a peek for real!
For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
For sticky rice:
Chicken floss filling:
To line the tray:
- Banana leaves to line a tray - optional
Prepare lemper paste (can be prepared a few days before):
- Place all ingredients in a food processor, except for coriander powder and grind into a fine paste. Then mix in the coriander paste and set aside
Prepare the chicken floss filling (can be prepared a few days before):
- Heat oil in a wok and saute the lemper paste until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add lemongrass stalks, kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Add the shredded chicken meat, water, sugar, and salt. Continue to saute until the liquid dries up. The filling should be dry. Have a taste by adding more sugar and salt. The taste should be savory with a hint of sweetness. Remove from the heat. Discard the lemongrass stalks and leaves.
Cooking the sticky rice:
- Rinse the sticky rice in water until it's clear. Discard water. In a large wok or pan, add the rice, coconut milk, water, and the rest of the ingredients for sticky rice. No oil is needed. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat and keep stirring until all liquid is absorbed. Get the steamer ready by bringing water in the steamer to a boil
- Transfer the rice to a dish and place into a steamer and steam for 30 minutes or until the rice is soft and cooked through. You may need to steam longer if you steam the rice in a thick glass container like pyrex for example. While the rice is steaming, prepare the filling
- Line a 7 x 7-inch tray with banana leaves or parchment paper. Press half of the cooked warmed sticky rice on the tray by using parchment paper (so the rice won't stick to your finger and easier to press too). Spread the filling evenly leaving no gap all over the rice. Press the other half of the rice on top
- Let the lemper ayam cool down completely before cutting. Use a plastic knife or smear a thin layer of oil on the knife before cutting
- Cut the lemper ayam into 24 equal pieces. You can cut into larger piece too if you want. You can serve it as is or lightly pan fry it with a tiny bit of oil on a pan until golden brown on each side and serve