Glutinous Rice Cakes Stuffed with Tuna Fish

Lalampa

Lemper are Javanese glutinous rice cakes filled with savoury chicken meat; other fillings are sometimes used, for example on feast days in Wonokromo, a village outside Yogyakarta. Lalampa are very similar rice cakes from Minahasa; they are made in exactly the same way as lemper, but the filling is the one used for panada. The quantity used in the panada recipe will be ample for the amount of rice shown here.

Ingredients

For the Filling

For the Rice

  • 675 g/ lb/3 cups white glutinous rice, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour, then drained
  • 675 ml/24 fl oz/3 cups thick coconut milk
  • 1 pandanus leaf, cut across into 3 (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

Heat the coconut milk in a large saucepan until it is just on the point of boiling. Remove from heat and add the salt and pandanus leaf. Stir, add the rice, and stir again with a wooden spoon. Cover the pan and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. By that time all the coconut milk has been absorbed by the rice. Now transfer the rice to a steamer, placing it over a bottom pan which already has very hot water in it. Bring the water quickly to the boil and let it steam the rice for 10 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and transfer the rice to a large tray. Leave to cool a little, and discard the pandanus leaf, if used. When the rice is cool enough to handle, divide it into 20 equal portions. Put 1 portion on to a square of greaseproof paper or aluminium foil, flatten the rice, and put a tablespoon of filling on to it. Roll the rice, with the filling inside, to make a sausage shape. Then unroll the paper or foil so you can use it for the next one. Repeat the process until you have 20 lalampa.

In Indonesia each lalampa would be wrapped in a banana leaf; then, in batches, they would be grilled over charcoal. They would be turned once or twice, to prevent the banana leaf wrappers from charring too quickly, then unwrapped and served straight away. In England, I just arrange them (unwrapped) on a flameproof dish and put them under a hot grill for about 2 minutes each side, turning them only once. (You can, of course, wrap each lalampa in a banana leaf before grilling, if you wish; the leaf will give the rice a pleasant tinge of green and a subtle extra flavour. Discard the leaf before serving.) Serve hot or cold, as snacks at tea-time or with drinks a bit later on.

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