I made lemper as my contribution to the shared dining at the Dramatic Performance on Friday. Warm finger food was required, and my first suggestion of chicken teriyaki, though enthusiastically received, on reflection did not seem too practical, logistically.
Lemper is a delicious Indonesian dish of spicy chicken wrapped in sticky rice. A very popular dish for the Dutch-Indonesian rijstaffel. It is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and baked or steamed. The banana leaves do give it a special flavour of its own, but alas there are no banana trees anywhere near where I now live. Nonetheless, it is still really delicious even if only wrapped in baking paper and foil.
- 3 cups ketan (“sticky” or “glutinous”) rice (Note there is no gluten in it)
- 200 g boneless chicken thigh fillets cut into small pieces
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- garlic, lots, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped or a good squeeze of lemongrass paste
- a slice of trasi (Shrimp paste) – about a tablespoon
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp laos (galangal)
- 1 tsp tumeric
- a red chilli, seeded and chopped (or to taste)
- a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a dash of tamarind liquid
- 1/2 tin coconut cream
- 1 Tblsp peanut oil.
- a dash of sesame oil
- Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack.
- put aside to cool.
- meanwhile, fry the trasi in the oils for a few seconds then add the onion, garlic and lemongrass and fry until it begins to brown
- add the chicken and spices and fry for a few minutes more
- add the coconut cream and bring to a simmer
- reduce the heat and continue simmering gently until the sauce is thick and almost gone
- put aside to cool.
- while it is cooling cut a number of sheets of non-stick baking parchment (or greaseproof paper that can be oiled) approx. 300 mm by 150
- on each, spread about 3/4 cup of rice in a layer of rectangular shape, approx. 120 mm by 90 towards one side of the paper (a wet wooden rolling pin is helpful in making the layer even – I do that with sushi too. It means less need for contact with the hands).
- spread a heaped tablespoon of the chicken curry along the centre of the rice, leaving free space at either end
- using the paper as a “sushi mat” roll the rice into a cylinder, enclosing the filling
- overlap the paper and fold the ends over
- wrap the cylinder in a layer of foil.
- Repeat until you run out of ingredients
- Chill the lemper if not reheating immediately.
- Reheat the lemper in a steamer or in the oven. They keep well for a few days in the ‘fridge, and can be frozen. The foil can be removed to microwave them.
Traditionally served with sambal oelek and ketjap manis.
This recipe made 8 lemper. They can be cut in half to serve.