Zhu Bi Png for the impatient grad studentComments
Last updated 2020-05-31 09:57:15 SGT
I will dispense with the usual SEO hacking that accompanies recipe blogs and first put my recipe up front. By way of introduction I will say only that I cooked this today.
Recipe Proper (一人份)
- 1 rice cup1 glutinous rice
- Dried seafood (to taste). For today's iteration I used dried scallops.
- 3 dried mushrooms (I like shiitake), broken into small pieces
For cooking the rice
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 2 tbsp soy sauce2
- 1 tbsp shaoxin wine (花雕酒)
- 1/2 tsp five spice powder (optional; I did not use this today).
- 1 handful groundnuts
- 1/4 shallot, thinly sliced.
- 1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
- Wash glutinous rice in water (discarding initial starch bloom). Soak overnight in excess water.
- If using dried goods, soak in water separately (ideally use as much water as you may need to cook rice, no more than twice the volume of the rice).
- Before cooking, drain rice well. Retrieve mushrooms and other dried goods from water, saving it for cooking the rice. Wring excess water from dried mushrooms.
- In wok, toast groundnuts; set aside.
- Fry shallot in hot sesame oil until golden-brown; retrieve and set aside, retaining oil in wok.
- Fry most of the garlic in the oil until golden-brown and fragrant.
- Add ginger paste, dried goods, rice; stir-fry for a minute or so.
- Add soy sauce, wine; mix well.
- Add water to cover rice; cover, lower heat, and let cook (about 10 min)
- If you're using an electric stove3, the rice will have formed a crust on the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with additional water, and mix well for an additional 2-5 minutes before taking off heat.
- Let stand to allow rice to firm up to desired texture. Serve with groundnuts, fried shallots, cilantro, remaining raw garlic as garnish.
- Zhu Bi Png (秫米饭, T: zug8 bhi2 bung7, H: chu̍t-bí pn̄g) is a savoury dish of stir-fried glutinous rice; like many members of the Singaporean culinary canon, it is of South Chinese (Hokkien/Teochew) origin. Conceptually, it is similar to lor mai gai4, which is also South Chinese but more specifically Cantonese. As far as I can tell the primary structural differences are the lack of separate garnishes but inclusion of fresh protein in the latter, and potentially that most lor mai gai recipes call for it to be steamed, rather than cooked directly in the wok. However (as is the nature of all fried rice dishes) one might of course add anything to zhu bi png.
- Despite these broad similarities it seems that lor mai gai has been much easier for me to obtain overseas than zhu bi png, most likely because the former is commonly served in dim sum restaurants (and therefore more readily culturally exported) and the latter is not. I have not been able to obtain the latter commercially in the US (as far as I have tried). For that matter, there are not many Google hits for the latter in the first place.
- For this variation I finish the dish with a bit of raw garlic at the end for some bite, borrowing something I like about Sichuan food. This isn't strictly traditional and may be omitted. One may also use spring onions as additional garnish, although I did not happen to have that on hand today.
- In Singapore I strongly recommend the zhu bi png at Yong's Teochew Kueh (along with their ku chye kueh 韭菜馃 and orh kueh 芋馃) on Upper Serangoon Road, which my family regularly patronised when I was growing up. Whenever I visit my mother makes it a point to bring me there on one of her mornings off (along with the fish soup shop nearby). There's a zi char place near Hougang Blk 522 that also serves zhu bi png on weekend mornings with various toppings (fried tofu and fishcakes being my usual order).
- Glutinous rice in the US appears to be considerably more pricey than normal rice (not sure what the situation back in SG is, since I've never made this at home, being content to consume my mother's version). A 2.5kg bag of rice cost me US$19, which (to my sensibilities) seems expensive — twice the price of normal jasmine rice. It was also labelled "sweet rice" in English, which confused me a little (although at least the Chinese label 糯米 was what I expected).
- When I was growing up my mother would prepare this as a second-order ingredient for a dish where she would wrap this in bean-curd skins (roughly the diameter of a fat ngoh hiang) and deep-fry the resulting rolls. I've not encountered this particular preparation commercially even in Singapore, although I gather that it was popular once. My mother has also been avoiding deep-frying food for the last ten years, so I've not eaten it in a while. I do recall my parents having arguments over whether my mother should quit teaching and start a food business on the strength of this particular dish, though, and my recollection of its taste is that this debate was well-deserved5.
= 2/3 US cup, 160 g or 160 ml; yes, it turns out that, fortuitously, dry glutinous rice appears to have the same density as water ↩
optionally one could use 1 tbsp oyster sauce and 1 tbsp soy sauce, but that would have clashed with the scallop today. ↩
alas, the tribulations of graduate housing ↩
糯米鸡, glutinous rice with chicken, and potentially mushrooms and lup cheong ↩
at least culinarily; I also think my mother's comparative advantage was still in teaching. ↩