XÔI MẶN

Vietnamese Savory Sticky Rice

Yield: 6 servings

Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
(plus time for soaking rice)

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Xôi Mặn is a street food that contains fillings like caramelized shallots, mushrooms, and pork. While not traditionally steamed in banana leaf, doing so adds a sweet earthiness
and it’s fun to unwrap!

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Ingredients

2 cups sticky rice
3 Chinese sausages (or any high-fat meat)
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
6 slices chả lụa* (steamed pork sausage)
2 shallots
2 scallions
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved

Optional: banana leaf, lotus leaf, or parchment. *If chả lụa comes wrapped in banana leaves, keep the leaves for later use!

Instructions

1. Soak rice for a few hours, or overnight. Drain and steam for 20 minutes. If using a rice cooker, cook with 1 ½ cups water.

2. Meanwhile, slice the chả lụa into ¼ inch thick rounds, and then into strips. Slice the Chinese sausage into ¼ inch thick pieces. Cook the Chinese sausage first. Add shallots, and slightly fry in the fat until caramelized. Cook mushrooms, then add in remaining ingredients.

3. Combine with the rice, and adjust seasoning if needed.

4. Portion about a half cup of rice into the center of each leaf or parchment, and wrap into a tight package with all sides tucked in. Note: If steaming without leaves/parchment, line the steamer with a piece of parchment and steam the rice for another 20-30 minutes.

5. Place the packages seam-side-down in steamer and steam for an additional 20-30 minutes.

6. Let cool, unwrap, and eat! Keep wrapped in banana leaves when reheating in steamer or microwave.

Recipe by Leanne Tran

“Growing up in San Jose, my grandmother would take me to the family-owned Vietnamese strip-mall delis located a few doors down from our family gift shop. This was our usual afterschool ritual. I always beelined to the bánh bao or bánh mì chả lụa, but one day when I was around seven, she told me to pick something new. I looked around and pointed to a big pan of xôi mặn scattered with sliced lạp xưởng–Taiwanese sausage–my favorite. I had never tried sticky rice before. She looked at me, surprised, and asked, biết ăn cái này không? which translates roughly to ‘do you understand how to eat this?’ I said, biết ăn. I can eat it. She told me I was growing up. 

Xôi mặn is a staple Vietnamese comfort food, often served out of a big aluminum pan at special gatherings, or enjoyed for breakfast. It’s easy to make, and delicious whether you swap out some of the harder-to-find ingredients for whatever you have on hand, or go all out and top it with pork floss and scallion oil.”

LEANNE TRAN is a chef whose work is centered in mutual aid, multiculturalism, and thoughtful eating. Her meals are both indulgent and simple, reminiscent of the way her relatives eat together in celebration: a spread of small dishes that are comforting and exciting, and everything is shared. Tran was born and raised in San Jose, California where her family immigrated as refugees from South Vietnam. Follow her on Instagram.

March 26, 2020. Photo by Angeline Gragasin.

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