Black Lemper with Tuna
Lemper is perhaps the best Indonesian snack I know. The most famous lemper is lemper ayam (sticky rice filled with chicken floss). You can find a recipe for lemper ayam here.
My husband is (unfortunately) allergic to chicken. But lemper can be made with all kinds of ingredients. Today I show you my latest recipe creation: black lemper with tuna filling.
The coconut flavored sticky rice (glutinous) is filled with a sweet and well-seasoned tuna floss filling. I season my tuna (from a can) with fresh and dry herbs.
For the fresh leaves, like jeruk purut and salam, I go to my Asian food store (they keep these leaves in the freezer). Lemongrass and ground coriander (ketumbar), cumin (jinten) and turmeric (kunjit) I can get at my grocery store.
I like it when the filling is light yellow in color (because of the turmeric) and sweet in taste.
Black glutinous rice
Because this lemper is going to be different anyway, I change the look of the rice too. I use 1/3 of black ketan rice (black glutinous rice) and 2/3 white ketan rice.
The black rice turns everything in a beautiful purple color. The black rice grains still have their outside layer, so it needs more time to cook than the white rice. To reduce cooking time, I leave the black rice in some water for a few hours. That softens the rice.
For 20-25 lempers, I need about 250 grams of tuna floss and 500 grams of sticky rice. It depends, of course, on the size of your lemper how much rice and filling you need. My chicken lemper I roll into a small sausage, but my tuna lemper will be different. I like to make it as a one layer lasagna and cut it into squares. Then I wrap it in a way I saw on Pinterest, with banana leaves. Love this idea.
It takes time to make lemper. Choose a rainy day and prepare yourself for a couple of hours (2-2.5 hours) in the kitchen for a nice set of lempers. ;-).
Ingredients for (about) 20-25 lempers
500 grams sticky rice (glutinous rice or ketan rice)
550 ml coconut milk
8 jeruk purut leaves (kaffir lime)
4 salam leaves
1 / 2 teaspoon salt
Lemper tuna filling
about 250 grams of tuna from a can (drained from the oil)
4 tablespoons of onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 / 3 fresh lemongrass – very finely chopped
2 / 3 fresh lemongrass – not chopped
1,5 teaspoons candlenut paste (kemiri nuts) or 3 roasted candle nuts
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (kunjit)
1/2 teaspoon coriander (ketumbar)
1/2 teaspoon cumin (jinten)
2 jeruk purut (kaffir lime leaves) finely chopped
3 jeruk purut leaves – not chopped
4 salam (Asian bay leaf) – not chopped
1 tablespoon of tamarind (asem) diluted with 3 tablespoons of lukewarm water
2, 5 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons oil
100 ml coconut milk or a piece of santen (coconut cream)
Baking tin 26 x 26 centimeters
To make milk out of the santen, I add hot water to the santen in the ratio 5:1, but ofcourse you can also buy coconut milk.
All the leaves I buy at my Asian store. Preferably fresh or from the freezer. For the rice, I use ‘Royal Thai sticky rice’.
Cook the sticky rice
It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to make the sticky rice in total.
I add my rice to the bottom of my rice cooker. Together with the leaves (jeruk purut, salam) and the lemongrass. I hit the lemongrass with something heavy to loosen the juices. Now the coconut milk goes in with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.
Tip: One cup of rice is equal to one cup of coconut milk – if you do not feel like measuring the rice and coconut milk amounts ;-).
Cook, rest and steam the rice
My rice cooker is basically a colander in a larger pan. The water goes into the lower pan to produce steam. You can easily make a steamer like this if you don’t have an original steam pan.
Make sure that the colander hangs well above the water and has a fitting lid. If necessary, bind a towel around the colander to make it fit snuck into the bottom pan.
I heat the rice over medium heat and stir well until all the moisture is absorbed. Be careful not to burn the rice.
Wait 30 minutes
When all the liquid is absorbed, turn the heat off and let the rice rest with the lid on for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes I scoop the rice into the colander part of the pan and cover the bottom evenly. I leave an opening in the middle, so the steam can easily access the colander.
Steam 30 minutes
Now I heat up a sufficient amount of water (for 30 minutes of steaming) in the bottom pan. When it’s boiling I place the colander on top with the lid on. I turn down the heat just a little bit. I steam the rice for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes I taste the rice. Are the grains tender all the way through? Take a small bite and make sure that is the case. If the core is still hard, steam another 10 minutes extra.
Keep the rice warm
Now the rice is done, I pour the water from the bottom pan and place the colander on top. I gently scoop the rice through. I try to get the rice from the bottom to the top. Do not overwork.
I leave the lid on. Now the sticky rice is ready to use. I leave the lid on as much as possible. This way the rice doesn’t dry out or cool down too much during lemper making; warm rice works easier.
If you have leftover rice? Keep in the refrigerator in an air tide container and warm up briefly in the microwave just before use.
Make tuna floss
I drain the tuna in a sieve to get most of the oil out.
I blend with my emersion blender the chopped up onions, garlic, the finely chopped lemongrass, the candlenut paste (kemiri), turmeric (kunjit), coriander (ketumbar), cumin (jinten), shredded jeruk purut leaves, salt and sugar into a fine paste.
In a large pan or wok, I heat up two tablespoons of oil and fry this bumbu.
After a couple of minutes, I add the drained tuna floss and make sure everything is well mixed.
Now the tamarind (asem) and the coconut milk can be added and also all the leaves. Stir on low heat and make sure the tuna does not burn. Keep mixing until all the moisture is gone.
Make the squares
I line a square baking tin with parchment paper. Now I make a nice and even layer with my still warm purple sticky rice. I keep my hands wet to prevent them from sticking too much to the rice.
Now the layer of seasoned tuna floss can be added.
And I finish with the second layer of rice. Now I cover it with cling film (plastic wrap) and leave my lemper tile to rest in the fridge. When it is cooled down I cut it into equal squares with a bread knife that I wet every time I make a new cut.
Time to wrap
I prepare a big banana leaf. They sell these at my Asian store (freezer). I defrost it and place one big leaf in a bucket of water for an hour. Then I rinse it gently and wipe it clean with a kitchen towel.
I take out a (sticky) square and place it in the middle of two pieces of banana leaf. Now I fold the top leaf around the lemper. First one side and then the other. Then I take the opposite leaf (the one that is under the first leaf) and close it with two staples.
Now I have a ‘handle’ so I can easily take it out of a bowl and place it on a plate to open the ‘surprise’ ;-). I store the tuna lempers in a plastic container and freeze them because I’m going to serve my lemper tuna at my daughter’s 8th birthday party.
I warm them up just before serving. From the fridge: 30 seconds in the microwave per lemper. From the freezer: 1 minute in the microwave.