Delight In Lo Mai Gai: A Culinary Gem (Glutinous Rice and Chicken)

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lo mai gai Glutinous Rice and Chicken

Chinese, Mains, Singaporean

5.0 from 1 vote

Originating from Southern China, Lo Mai Gai has a rich history that dates back centuries. It is believed to have been created during the Song Dynasty, where it was initially served as a special treat for the emperor and his court. Over time, the dish gained popularity among the common people and spread to neighboring countries, each adding their own unique twist to the recipe.

Lo Mai Gai holds a special place in the hearts of Malaysians and Singaporeans, where it has become a staple in local cuisine. It is commonly enjoyed as a breakfast or lunch item, as well as a popular street food snack. Its widespread popularity can be attributed to its delicious combination of flavors and textures, making it a true culinary gem.

What Makes Glutinous Rice and Chicken So Special

At the heart of Lo Mai Gai lies the key ingredient that sets it apart from regular rice: glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice. This short-grain rice variety has a higher starch content, giving it a sticky and chewy texture when cooked. The glutinous rice is soaked and then steamed, resulting in a soft and slightly sticky consistency that pairs perfectly with the tender chicken and flavorful seasonings.

The filling of Lo Mai Gai typically consists of marinated chicken, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and sometimes dried shrimp. These ingredients are stir-fried or braised before being mixed with the glutinous rice, allowing the flavors to meld together. The dish is then wrapped in lotus or banana leaves, which impart a subtle earthy aroma and further enhance the taste.

One of the joys of eating Lo Mai Gai is the surprise element it brings. As you unwrap the leaf, a fragrant cloud of steam escapes, revealing the enticing combination of flavors inside. The tender chicken, savory sausage, and earthy mushrooms are perfectly complemented by the sticky rice, creating a harmonious blend of tastes and textures that is truly delightful.

Whether enjoyed as a comforting meal at home or savored as a street food delicacy, Lo Mai Gai captivates food lovers with its unique blend of flavors. It is a dish that represents the rich culinary heritage of the region and showcases the artistry and creativity of Asian cuisine.

Lo Mai Gai, or sticky rice with chicken, is a true testament to the cultural heritage of Malaysia and Singapore. This dish is not only a culinary delight but also a symbol of the melting pot of influences that have shaped the region’s cuisine.

lo mai gai steamed glutinous rice with chicken
Lo Mai Gai or Steamed Glutinous Rice With Chicken is a favorite dish at Hawker markets across Asia

Lo Mai Gai can be traced back to the Guangdong province in southern China. It was traditionally prepared during festive occasions and family gatherings, where it was considered a symbol of abundance and prosperity. When Chinese immigrants arrived in Malaysia and Singapore, they brought with them their cherished recipes and culinary traditions.

As these immigrants settled into their new homes, they began to adapt their recipes to suit the local ingredients and tastes. The result was a fusion of flavors, combining the techniques and ingredients of traditional Chinese cooking with the spices and flavors of the Malay and Indian cuisines that were prevalent in the region.

Today, when you bite into a delicious serving of Lo Mai Gai, you can taste the influence of these diverse culinary traditions. The sticky rice, infused with the flavors of soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fragrant spices, is a nod to the Chinese roots of the dish. The tender chicken, marinated in a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, reflects the influence of Malay cooking.

But Lo Mai Gai is not just about the flavors; it is also about the experience. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is often enjoyed as a communal dish, with friends and family gathering around a table to share in the joy of eating together. The act of unwrapping the banana leaf or lotus leaf parcel, revealing the steaming hot rice and succulent chicken within, is a moment of anticipation and delight.

As you savor each bite of Lo Mai Gai, you are not only indulging in a delicious meal but also immersing yourself in the cultural heritage of Malaysia and Singapore. It is a dish that tells a story of migration, adaptation, and the celebration of diversity. So the next time you have the opportunity to try Lo Mai Gai, take a moment to appreciate the centuries of tradition and history that have gone into creating this beloved dish.

friends eating dim sum
Friends enjoying Dim Sum

The Star Ingredient Of Lo Mai Gai: Glutinous Rice

At the heart of Lo Mai Gai lies the key ingredient that gives it its distinct character: glutinous rice. Unlike regular rice, which is long-grain and fluffy when cooked, glutinous rice has a sticky and chewy texture that adds a delightful consistency to the dish. Also known as sticky rice, this variety is widely used in Asian cuisine, particularly in dishes that require a sticky or glutinous texture.

The process of preparing glutinous rice involves a slightly different method compared to regular rice. The grains are soaked in water for several hours before being steamed, which enhances their stickiness. This unique texture allows the rice to cling together, creating a cohesive and satisfying mouthfeel when combined with the other ingredients in Lo Mai Gai.

Glutinous rice is an essential ingredient in many traditional Asian dishes, not just Lo Mai Gai. In countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, it is commonly used to make dishes such as sticky rice with mango, a popular dessert that combines the sweetness of ripe mangoes with the sticky rice’s rich and chewy texture. In China, glutinous rice is also used to make zongzi, a traditional rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with various ingredients like meat, nuts, and beans.

Aside from its unique texture, glutinous rice also offers a distinct flavor to the dishes it is used in. When cooked, it has a slightly sweet and nutty taste that complements the other ingredients in Lo Mai Gai. This flavor profile adds depth and complexity to the dish, making it more enjoyable to eat.

Glutinous rice is not only versatile in terms of its culinary uses but also in its nutritional benefits. It is a good source of carbohydrates, providing energy to fuel the body. Additionally, it contains essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. This makes glutinous rice a suitable option for individuals who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and need alternative sources of protein.

Furthermore, glutinous rice is naturally gluten-free, making it an excellent option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or dietary restrictions. It allows them to enjoy dishes like Lo Mai Gai without having to worry about adverse reactions.

Overall, glutinous rice plays a crucial role in the creation of Lo Mai Gai, offering its unique sticky texture, distinct flavor, and nutritional benefits. Whether enjoyed as a main dish or a side, this traditional Asian delicacy showcases the versatility and deliciousness of glutinous rice.

rice fields of guangdong province
The rice fields of Guangdong province

Why Glutinous Rice With Chicken Is The Perfect Choice

Glutinous rice is not only chosen for its texture but also for its ability to absorb flavors. When steamed with fragrant spices, marinated chicken, and other delectable ingredients, the rice becomes infused with a symphony of tastes that make each bite unforgettable. The sticky nature of the rice also helps to bind the various components of the dish together, ensuring a harmonious blend of flavors in every mouthful.

While Lo Mai Gai traditionally features chicken as the main protein, variations of the dish may include other ingredients such as Chinese sausage, mushrooms, or salted egg yolk. These additions further enhance the flavors and textures, creating a truly satisfying culinary experience.

Delight In Lo Mai Gai: Glutinous Rice With Chicken

Recipe by HolisticJB
5.0 from 1 vote
Course: Main, Appetizers, SnacksCuisine: Chinese, SingaporeanDifficulty: Medium


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Steaming Time


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Lor Mai Gai originated as a Cantonese dish, and now can be found in Malaysia, Singapore and many other countries around the globe. In English, we know it as Glutinous Rice with Chicken. It is usually eaten as dim sum which is a shared snack. Traditionally Lor Mai Gai is wrapped in a lotus leaf and served like a wrapped present. Now it tends to be served directly on a plate. The dish may appear to be time consuming, but it is mainly soaking time, and the rest of the dish is pretty straightforward. And when you try it, and experience the flavors, I’m sure you will agree it was well worth the effort!

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  • For Soaking
  • 2 cups 200 g Glutinous Rice

  • 4 4 Shiitake Mushroom (Dried)

  • 4 4 Scallops (Dried)

  • 2 cups 500 ml Water (cold)

  • 2 cups 500 ml Water (hot)

  • For Chicken Marinade
  • 8 ounces 220 g chicken thigh (boneless)

  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp Soy Sauce

  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce

  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine

  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp Cornstarch

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Black Pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Ginger Root (Minced)

  • For Sauté And Rice
  • 6 6 Garlic Cloves (Minced)

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Ginger Root (Minced)

  • 1/2 1/2 Chinese Sausage (Sliced)

  • 1 1 Shallot (Minced)

  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp Cooking Oil (or Lard)

  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp Soy Sauce

  • 2 tbsp 2 tbsp Oyster Sauce

  • 1 tbsp 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

  • 1 tsp 1/3 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Black Pepper

  • 1 cup 250 ml water


  • Wash 2 cups of glutinous rice and add to a large bowl. Pour in the 2 cups of water, cover with cling film, and leave to soak for a minimum of 4 hours (preferably longer or overnight).soak glutinous rice
  • Wash the dried shiitake mushrooms and the dried scallops. Add to bowl with 2 cups of hot water, cover with a kitchen cloth and soak for 3 hours.soak shiitake and scallop
  • On a clean kitchen board remove any bone and skin from the chicken thighs. Wash and pat dry the chicken and cut into bite size pieces. Set aside. To a mixing bowl add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp dark soy sauce, 2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tbsp of cornstarch, 1 tsp minced ginger root and 1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper. Mix the marinade until thoroughly combined. Finally place the chicken into the marinade, cover with cling film and let marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours.marinade chicken
  • When the soaking time is over drain the rice, mushrooms and scallops. Slice the Chinese sausage into 16 slices. In a wok or large skillet heat 1 tbsp cooking oil. Add the sliced sausage and fry until browned and golden. Remove from the oil as set aside.chinese sausage
  • Reheat the wok and oil used to fry the sausage. Add the minced garlic, ginger and shallots. Sauté until golden and fragrant. On a medium heat add the soaked and drained glutinous rice and gently stir. Now to the rice add the 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp dark soy sauce and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Gently stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of water and gently stir. Once the water has been absorbed add the final 1/2 cup of water. Sauté until the water has been absorbed and the rice has started to become sticky.sauté the rice
  • Now it’s time to assemble the dish for steaming. Set up your steamer and bring it to a medium heat. Once ready distribute the marinated chicken and fried Chinese sausage evenly into each bowl. Add a scallop and shiitake mushroom to each bowl. Now add 3 to 4 tsp of the mushroom and scallop soaking water to each bowl. Then fill the bowl with the sautéed rice. Press the rice in firmly to the top. Spoon any left over marinade sauce onto the top of the bowls of rice. Add the bowls to the steamer and let steam for 40 minutes.steam and serve
  • Remove from the steamer and place a serving plate face side down on top of the rice bowl. Holding both the plate and bowl flip them over so the plate is siting right ways up with the rice bowl upside down on the plate. Gently lift the rice bowl so that it comes off leaving the steamed glutinous rice sitting in the center. Enjoy!plate the lo mai gai



  • You can also add dried shrimp and egg to the dish if you wish. Add to the chicken mix before topping with rice.

Nutrition Facts

  • Serving Size: 1g
  • Total number of serves: 4
  • Calories: 543kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 47.7g
  • Protein: 17.3g
  • Fat: 31.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 4.9g
  • Cholesterol: 51mg
  • Sodium: 865mg
  • Potassium: 186mg
  • Fiber: 2.1g
  • Sugar: 0.4g
  • Calcium: 33mg
  • Iron: 2mg

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In conclusion, glutinous rice is the perfect choice for dishes like Lo Mai Gai due to its texture, flavor-absorbing abilities, and nutritional profile. Whether you are a fan of the sticky and chewy texture or the way it brings out the flavors of the other ingredients, glutinous rice adds a unique element to the dish. So the next time you are craving a delicious and satisfying meal, consider trying a dish made with glutinous rice.

delight in lo mai gai: a culinary gem (glutinous rice and chicken)


Asian cuisine / Lo Mai Gai / sticky rice

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