Lemper: Indonesian Sticky Rice Rolls

Parcels of goodness.

Found in all corners of the world, in different forms, tastes, and textures—Latin America boasts empanadas, Eastern Europe takes pride in pierogis, China devotes itself to dumplings and Indonesia likens their lemper or sticky rice rolls.
I tasted my first lemper over one year ago and it would not be my last!  At first bite I needed to get my hands on a recipe!

Lemper are popular Indonesian snacks to be had on the go or in more formal settings, as an appetizer.  I’ve eaten them at room-temp and warm {warm is my preference} yet, I would not hesitate packing these for a road trip, plane ride, or hike!

The base of lemper is glutinous rice {sticky rice or sweet rice} this does not mean the rice has gluten in it– it has a high starch content causing it to “stick” to itself, which is helpful in rolling out lemper.  The filling, typically chicken, but fish or pork are also used is rolled inside the rice; this is in turn rolled inside a steamed banana leaf or plastic sheet to hold its shape and serve.

The ingredients for lemper are not difficult to come by and can be found at your local Asian market.  It is important to note that in American-Asian markets, sticky rice is typically advertised as sweet rice.
**For GRapidians my go-to market is Asian Delight Market

These parcels are literally FUN to prepare, make mouths water and provide enough to freeze or share with friends!

Get to your local Asian market and start rolling!

Lemper, Sticky Rice Rolls

Lemper: Indonesian Sticky Rice Rolls

makes 30
prep: 45 minutes
cooking time: 30-45 minutes

2.2 pounds sticky rice
1 cup coconut milk
2.2 pounds chicken {I use a whole one, but use what you like!}
6 cloves garlic
1 hunk of ginger, peeled
1 onion
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
2 pieces galangal {each 1/2 inch} –I typically find galangal in the freezer section
6 kaffir lime leaves–if not fresh these are also found in the freezer section
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
**tip Rub the chicken with lemon or vinegar to clean, then wash with cold water.
In a large pot boil the chicken until tender then remove.  Reserve some of the liquid to use later on.  I like to have a large bowl of cold water ready to submerge the cooked chicken in.
This not only cools the chicken for preparation but it guarantees a moist bird while stopping the cooking process.
I shred (with a fork) but you may chop the chicken very finely and set aside.  Meanwhile make a spice paste with the garlic, onion, ginger and coriander {I prefer using a mortar and pestle beginning with the dry ingredients and adding the wetter ingredients in batches.  A food processor or blender may also be used.}  Once everything is ground down to a paste-like texture heat oil in a pan and add the spice paste. Fry until fragrant then add the chopped chicken, reserved bouillon water {about 1 cup or so–I also enjoy adding some coconut milk and adjust liquid accordingly} galangal, kaffir lime leaves {squeezed before you use them to release fragrance} salt, sugar and chicken bouillon powder.  Stir the mixture occasionally and let cook until the water is completely evaporated.
The filling is ready to use.

For the Sticky Rice:
Wash the rice a few times allowing the water to become clear.  Drain and set aside.
If you have a rice cooker by all means!  If you are like me and do not have one you can do one of two things 1. follow this genius idea from She Simmers or 2. grab a big pot.
Fill the pot with about 7 1/2 cups of water {for each 1 cup of glutinous rice you need 1 1/2 cups water.  {2.2 pounds of rice equate to around 5 cups of rice which means you need 7 1/2 cups of water.} Bring the water to a boil and add the rice.  Cover and steam about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile in a saucepan heat the coconut milk.  When the rice is done cooking add in the coconut milk and stir until combined.  The rice and coconut mixture may need to steam an additional 30-45 minutes, taste test for doneness, the texture will be sticky!

For the Rolling:
The wording sounds complicated but it’s really NOT!
Have ready a sushi roller, plastic wrap or steamed banana leaves and a knife.

Lay out a square of sticky rice and place chicken filling atop
Rolled Lemper with Plastic Wrap
Cut the Lemper into size-able pieces

Take a sheet of plastic wrap or banana leaf and place it on the sushi roller.
Grab a handful of sticky rice and pat it into a square shape atop the sushi roller.  Now, add a few tablespoons of the chicken filling and roll!  Viola you did it!  Now cut it into sizeable pieces and keep on rolling on!
**If using banana leaves be sure to place rolled lempers into a heated skillet to roast/blacken the banana leaf.  Doing this releases a great flavor from the banana leaf.  I’ve done lemper both ways {plastic wrap and banana leaf} Taste-wise I enjoy no banana leaf, however aesthetically the banana leaf takes the cake!

Ready to store {Refrigerate or Freeze}

Eat what you like and refrigerate or freeze the rest!


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