Lemper – Sticky Rice Snack
Lemper is perhaps the best Indonesian snack I know. In Beb Vuyk her book (I make all her recipes from her Indonesian cookbook from 1973) there is no recipe for lemper! But this sticky rice snack must be part of this blog.
The coconut flavored sticky rice is filled with sweet and well-seasoned chicken floss. I season my chicken with fresh and dry herbs. For the fresh leaves, like jeruk purut, salam, and pandan leaf I go to my local Asian food store. Lemongrass and ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric (kunjit) I can get at my grocery store.
For 20-25 lempers, I need about 250 grams of chicken 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 lemper is not so long and not too thick; 10 by 2 centimeters. I like this size; easy to hold and easy to store.
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 lempers
- 500 grams sticky rice (glutinous – Royal Thai sticky rice)
- 550 ml coconut milk
- 2 pandan leaves
- 8 jeruk purut leaves (kaffir lime)
- 4 salam leaves
- 1 lemongrass
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Lemper chicken filling
- 250 grams chicken fillets
- 4 tablespoons red onions
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 fresh lemongrass – very finely chopped
- 2/3 fresh lemongrass – not chopped
- 1 1/2 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
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 100 ml coconut milk
You need a rice cooker made out of a pan and a colander that fit into eachother.
Cook and steam the sticky rice
It takes 1 hour and 10 minutes to make the sticky rice in total. I place my rice in the bottom part of my rice cooker. Together with the leaves (jeruk purut, pandan leaf, 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 ;-).
My rice cooker is basically a colander in a larger pan. The water goes in 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 onto the bottom pan.
I heat the rice on medium heat and stir well until all the moisture is absorbed by the rice. 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.
I remove the pandan leaves. They give off a green color and make the rice gray-green in color in the end. Not so nice. I leave the rest of the leaves in.
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. Smoke needs to come out of the pan. I steam the rice for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes 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 out the water from the bottom pan and place the colander on top. I gently scoop the rice through. I try to get the rice that rests on the bottom to the top. Do not overwork.
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 rolling; warm rice rolls 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 chicken floss
First, I simmer the chicken fillets. To the water, I add a teaspoon of salt, 3 leaves of jeruk purut (kaffir lime leaf) and 2/3 of fresh lemongrass stalk.
When the water comes to the boil I let the fillets simmer for a couple of minutes. I check if the fillets are done (with two forks). If so, I immediately get the fillets out of the broth and cool them on a rack. Make sure not to overcook the chicken.
When the fillets are not too hot to handle, I shred the meat with my hands into flaky pieces.
I blend with my emersion blender the chopped up onions, garlic, the finely chopped lemongrass, the candlenut paste, turmeric (kunjit), coriander (ketumbar), cumin (jinten), shredded jeruk purut leaves, salt and sugar into a fine paste.
If you use whole candlenuts be aware to roast the nuts before using, otherwise they are slightly poisonous.
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 chicken floss. I make sure the chicken is well mixed with the bumbu.
Now the tamarind diluted tamarind (asem) can be added.
and the coconut milk.
And all the leaves. Stir on low heat and make sure the chicken does not burn. Keep mixing until all the moisture is gone.
Roll the Lemper
Take a piece of kitchen foil that is suitable for the microwave. I place my kitchen foil on a bamboo mat. I use the stitches as a measuring tool; the width of my lemper.
At one-third of the foil, I form a rectangle of sticky rice. Tip: is the rice too sticky, dip fingers in some water. It works much easier.
For my lemper I use about 40 grams of sticky rice. But you can make them thicker too. Just what you like.
I place chicken floss in a straight line in the middle of the rectangle. I make sure there is enough uncovered rice left at the top and bottom.
Now I roll the lemper, as a sushi roll. I grab the bottom of the plastic and roll the rice over the chicken and close it.
I fold the right side tide and squeezes the left side as if emptying toothpaste. I push gently until my lempers reaches the required size (the stitches in the bamboo mat are my marks) and fold the left side close too.
Now fold upwards quite firm. Until the kitchen foil covers the lemper neatly.
Warm-up just before serving. From the fridge: 30 seconds in the microwave per lemper. From the freezer: 1 minute in the microwave. Selamat makan!