Beginner’s Choice: Val’s lunchbox ideas

It has been a while since Val introduced us to her amazing lunch boxes. I didn’t have the heart to ask her to send more articles knowing how busy she was at work. To my surprise, she sent a photo of her lunchbox last Monday morning with a note that said: “It’s clearing out freezer day. Korean beef short ribs, ginger pork on a mountain of shredded cabbage and bokchoy rice.

I was glad to know that she had time to clear the freezer. The pandemic, now turned endemic, has led to a very uneven distribution of work. Healthcare professionals, especially nurses, have been landed with the lion’s share. To have time to clear the freezer may actually be a luxury. Val certainly makes the most of her time and whatever is in her freezer. It is no wonder that her colleagues are surprised by her lunch boxes.

This week Val sent another photo, with another note: “I’m going traditional Chinese for comfort food today: Homemade lor mai gai! (steamed glutinous rice with chicken). She even sent the recipe:

600g glutinous rice, soaked overnight and drained

1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp fried shallots
1 tsp fried garlic
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder (optional)
Mushroom soaking water

2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder (optional)

5 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and cut into a small dice
– I soaked it in water with 1 tsp of soy sauce and 1/2tsp of sugar, but soaking in water alone will do as well.
2 Chinese lap cheong sausages (腊肠)
A little bit of oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic

Lor mai gai

“Marinate your chicken thighs in the marinade sauce for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is ideal.

In a rice cooker, add your soaked glutinous rice, the mushroom soaking liquid, and the seasoning sauce. Add water to top up the remaining balance, until the water reaches the top bit of your fingernail when you dip your index finger on top of the glutinous rice. Cook in your rice cooker according to its settings.

(I don’t know how to explain this better! It’s the way my mum has taught me to cook rice all my life HAHAHA)

Meanwhile, sauté your lap cheong sausages in a tiny bit of oil until the fat has rendered out from the lap cheong. Add your shiitake mushrooms and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes until fragrant.

Sauté your marinated chicken until the chicken is cooked.

If eating the dish at home, you will be tipping the lor mai gai from its steaming dish onto a plate. So the meat and mushrooms go in first before packing the glutinous rice on top.

I pack mine to work, so I pack my glutinous rice at the bottom and leave the other ingredients on top of my glass container. My particular lunch box is heat proof so I can steam it or bake it in the oven without safety concerns – check your particular glass container before steaming in it.

If you’re looking to be even more traditional, lor mai gai is traditionally wrapped and steamed in lotus leaves. (Not to be confused with bak chang, which is wrapped in bamboo leaves instead.)

Either way, add your desired amounts of ingredients and glutinous rice into your serving bowls. Steam for 10-15 minutes (everything is already cooked anyway) and serve hot.” Val

Note from the Editor: A big thank you to Val for contributing to this blog post. Val will tell you that if she can do it (cook, that is), so can you!

Posted by Chayo, HomSkil Editor 1, 16 November 2021

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