Steamed sticky rice cakes are stuffed with shredded chicken cooked in spices and herbs and then wrapped in banana leaves and grilled are popular Indonesian snacks.
Lemper Ayam is definitely one of my favorite snacks. It is made of Sticky Rice/ Glutinous rice with shredded chicken meat wrapped in it. Usually they are individually wrapped in banana leaves and then pan-fried to impart that leaves flavor into the cake.
The chicken meat and sticky rice are cooked with aromatic spices and herbs and that’s what makes this sticky rice cake super delicious. 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!).
They are usually made with white glutinous rice/sticky rice, but my mom loves to throw in a little bit of the black/purple glutinous rice for that color contrast, so I did the same 🙂 It’s more for visual.
Traditionally, the lemper ayam is individually wrapped like a parcel in banana leaves. I did wrap them in banana leaves, but leaving the two sides exposed as you can see in the photos. It’s much easier, yet I can still quickly grill them on the pan to impart that aroma from banana leaves. Another option is to press half of the glutinous rice into the oiled container, spread the chicken filling and then spread the rest of the glutinous rice cake on top and gently press it and cut into serving pieces 🙂 It’s great for kid’s lunch box too 😉
Lemper Ayam/ Sticky Rice Cake with Spiced Chicken
- 2 cups sweet rice/sticky rice/glutinous rice
- 2 Tbsp black glutinous rice optional
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves tear edges to release flavor
- 1/2 tsp of salt
- Banana leaves for wrapping
- 8 oz of boneless skinless chicken breast/thigh
- 2 Tbsp cooking Oil
- 2 tsp shrimp paste
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1/2 cup of coconut milk
- Salt to taste
- 3 shallots peeled and quartered
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 Tbsp of ground lemon grass
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
Soak the sticky rice in water for at least 6 hours (I did overnight). Soak the black glutinous rice in hot water (because it is firmer than the white sticky rice) in a separate bowl too. Discard water and set aside. Prepare your steamer on high heat. In a medium to large heat-proof bowl, pour in coconut milk and add in the bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves and season with salt. Add in the soaked rice into the bowl and place into the steamer and steam for about 30 minutes or until all the coconut milk is absorbed by the rice and rice is sticky and soft, but not too mushy
While waiting for the rice to cook, boil the chicken in water until it is cooked. Let cool before shredding the meat
Heat oil in a wok and saute the ground spices until fragrant. Add in the shrimp paste and cumin powder and saute for about 1 minute. Add in the shredded chicken meat. Continue to saute for another 3 minutes and then add the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until all the coconut milk is absorbed. Season with salt as needed. Set aside and let it cool
Line a 8 x 6-inch tray with parchment paper. Press half of the 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 all over the rice. Press the other half of the rice on top
At this point you can either serve it as is, or cut it into rectangles and use banana leaves to wrap them, leaving the two sides exposed
When ready to serve, smear some oil on a pan and place the lemper ayam on the pan or grill pan and let the banana leaves brown and burn a little so it will impart great flavor into the lemper ayam and it looks nice too 🙂 Let it brown for about 1 minute on each side over medium heat. Ready to serve