Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yakitori Bincho

(310) 376-3889
112 N. International Boardwalk
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Adequately Fed: $25
See Below
(Out of Five Stars)

Considering the full name of this place is Japanese Grill Yakitori Bincho, the restaurant is much less casual and unassuming. Only open since March, they husband and wife team have completely underestimated the popularity of their yakitori-ya. Especially after the review by Rameniac hyping their little restaurant, the wife tells me that they are packed usually from the 6:00 opening to midnight. The tiny place had counter seating for six or so and another four tables for a total of probably no more than thirty. But the limiting factor is the husband, working the grill and preparing nearly every menu item. He does the cooking, she waits tables and washes dishes. When the restaurant was half-full, almost every seat was reserved, he told her to turn away all other customers. I'm sure neither one expected the monumental success of their humble eatery.

I reserved two seats at the counter to watch the chef at work. The way he juggled orders was impressive, although he could work on his organization. Another few months and he'll probably have it down to a science. The kitchenette was just a deep-fryer, wok, range, counter, sink, reach-in fridges and a small but effective grill. The charcoal used for the grill is the "binchon" according to the waitress. We ordered a few dishes and some tea. I would've enjoyed a bottle of sake, especially to support a fledgling business, but I had to meet the girlfriend's mother afterwards and figured it best to stay sober. At least I paid in cash. Always pay in cash for small places; credit cards eat up too much of their profits.

Cabbage and Edamame 2/5

Our meal started with a simple appetizer of cabbage served with a dab of miso. I've never seen this before; as far as I know, it isn't any sort of traditional appetizer. It seemed more like a sloppy salad. Either way, it was exactly as it sounds, cabbage and miso. The edamame was too salty. I appreciate complimentary edamame though, and in fact, refuse to pay $3 or so for soybeans.

Agedashi Tofu (Deep-fried tofu) 5/5

By far the best tofu I've ever had, the agedashi tofu was silky smooth and crunchy at the same time. The green onions and grated daikon topping gave a cool freshness to contrast the hot tofu and warm broth. The broth, a combination of dashi (kelp and fish stock), soy sauce, ginger and mirin (sweet rice wine) was good enough to drink on its own. I was also quite impressed with the quantity of tofu served. The picture may not be too clear, but it was a large bowl as opposed to the usual tiny serving of tofu at most other restaurants.

Tsukune (Chicken Meatballs) 5/5

I must apologize for the low quality of some of these pictures. The dishes came out fast and I could hardly keep up between my camera, Moleskine and chopsticks. Most of their yakitori plates came as either shio (salt) or teriyaki flavored. For some of the yakitori, we got two, one of each flavor. The tsukune convinced me that chicken has been underestimated by me way too many times. I muttered an "oh my god" under my breath so as not to give away my instant infatuation with this guy's chicken balls. The shio with lemon juice was satisfying, but not as delicious as the teriyaki with a touch of hot mustard. Please order this if you ever go to Yakitori Bincho. It's only $3 and could not be better spent.

Negima (Chicken Thigh with Leeks) 3/5

While this negima was better than the one at Nanban-kan, I didn't find it particularly special. Although the menu said leeks, they look and tasted more like scallions to me. With this dish, I preferred the shio to the teriyaki. Don't want to burn out on the sauce.

Tebasaki (Chicken Wings) 3.5/5

The shio tebasaki deserved a 4 while the teriyaki was an average 3, hence the 3.5 rating. As I mentioned in my Nanban-kan post, I still prefer the fried chicken wings at Fu Rai Bo to the yakitori grilled chicken wings. Although this chef made the wings incredibly satisfying, that's all they were--satisfactory.

Shiso Chicken Thigh 2/5

Shiso, as I mentioned in my Sawtelle Kitchen post, is the perilla leaf. It has an interesting flavor, somewhat like a delicate fennel. It is commonly paired with ume (dried plum) in the form of a sauce in this instance. I thought the shiso flavor didn't show through at all in this dish. Such a shame too, because when shiso shines, it blinds.

Cartilage (4/5)

Listed as cartilage on the menu, I wasn't exactly sure what part of the chicken this came from. Because of the uncertainty, I ate it with a little unease. Still, the crunchy texture worked so well to contrast with the tender meat. I love the feeling of crunching into cartilage in my mouth. When I eat a drumstick, I always savor that part the most. In this dish though, it wasn't shaped like any easily recognizable part of the chicken. If someone knows where it's from, please let me know.

Lotus Root with Meat 2/5

I haven't seen lotus root used in Japanese cuisine as commonly as Chinese, but this was a creative way to combine textures as with the previous dish. The meat didn't strike me as particularly compelling, and the lotus lacked depth. I was hoping it would be crunchier, but the grilling process had softened it. Lotus itself is not strongly flavored, so it was too easily overcome by the meat.

Bacon-wrapped Tomato 5/5

Eureka, I have rediscovered bacon! Oh for so long I have delegated you to the list of foods I bid good riddance to because you were not delicious enough for the negative healthy effects. Yakitori Bincho has rekindled our relationship. The cherry tomato gave a juicy acidity that worked so well in conjunction with the pig fat that my tastebuds were in harmony.

Shiitake Mushrooms with Meat

This skewer really demonstrates how the meaty flavor of shiitake mushrooms work well in conjunction with meat. I'm assuming this was the same ground chicken used to make the tsukune, but whatever it was, the star was really the mushroom.

Ochazuke (Rice Porridge) 3/5

Though I ranked this bowl of rice soup an average 3, it was actually a great way to round off the meal. I didn't feel quite full until I had the starch of the rice mixed with a dash of wasabi, nori and ume. The subtle flavors cleansed the palette that had been too heavily inundated with the grilled items.

Yakitori Bincho is great for the simple chicken items, but hits roadblocks beyond the grilled chicken. I prefer them for their chicken dishes to Nanban-kan, but I like the specialty items such as beef tongue and seabass at Nanban-kan. It wouldn't make sense to sell that kind of food at this location though. They're good at sticking to what they do best.

I loved the vibe of Yakitori Bincho. If only this place were close enough for me to become a regular like Rameniac. The phenomenal success in just two months makes me happy for the couple though. I look forward to seeing their expansion, perhaps at least with the obligatory Mexican dishwasher (I mean no ill-will, that's just how the restaurant industry in California works).

Recommendation: Order some sake, shoju, Sapporo or wine. Anything alcoholic to support the restaurant would be great. Also make reservations.

Update: Last I heard, this place got shut down by the Fire Marshal.

Monday, May 26, 2008

UCLA Reggae Fesitval

The annual student run Jazz Reggae Festival at UCLA is in its 22nd year serving great food with friendly folks and outstanding music. I only attended the reggae day and so I can't speak much to the jazz day, but the atmosphere of the festival was a great place to spend Memorial Day afternoon. Of course this is my food blog, so I primarily hit up the food vendors. But besides the steep $35 entry fee, I wouldn't mind setting up a lawn chair and soaking in the culture.

White tents of Rastafarian paraphanelia lined the Western edge of the field. Colorful clothing dyed red for blood, green for Earth, gold for the sun and black for the African people. I didn't spend too much time in these booths, but I noticed the Jamaican support for Barack Obama.

The opposite end of the field more held my interest, especially for this blog. More than a dozen tents serving a variety of foods, each with particular smells and aromas attracted my attention. Seeing as how this was a reggae festival and my knowledge of Jamaican food was rather limited, I tried a variety of dishes at various Jamaican booths. Of course the common carnival fare funnel cakes and deep-fried foods were tempting. I suppose the tropical smoothies were slightly more appropriate, but I don't know what set the two lemonade stands apart. Coincidently, I actually had a can of "Jamiacan lemonade" last night that was just lemonade made with sparkling water. Strangely enough, there was also Greek, Belizean and Cajun food.

After surveying the different tents, I chose People's Jamaican Restaurant for my first taste. Long I have heard of the famous Jamaican patty, a flaky turnover stuffed with savory ingredients. I asked for a recommendation and received the beef patty. Unfortunately my picture doesn't show the filling too well, but it was thick like a stew or chimichanga filling (which actually originated in Tuscon, Arizona). For $4, I got a hearty, piping hot pastry satisfyingly spicy and good for a snack or a meal. I will now consider storing some frozen patties in my freezer after hearing they store well and heat up nicely in a toaster oven. It definitely beats a pop-tart.

I wandered over to Jucy's Jamaican Food, but unfortunately they didn't serve anything smaller than a dinner plate. Knowing that I was going to try several different things, I refused to commit myself to such a large dish. Walking back, I came across Aunt P's Jamaican Kitchen. They were nice enough to serve me a side order of stewed oxtail for $5 off-menu. Handing over my U.S. tender, I got back a lip-smacking dish of slow-cooked beef. Oxtail is a relatively common Chinese ingredient, but I've usually only had it in soups. This Jamaican oxtail had all the elements of a good braise. The meat, fork tender, fell off the bone and into my mouth. Immediately I felt a rush of umami as my tastebuds touched the unctuous sauce. Slightly spicy, this dish was a good example of balanced flavors.

Finishing my oxtail, I felt like trying out something more common. And by common, I mean the teriyaki chicken of Jamaican cuisine--the jerk chicken. I settled on Stone's Jamaican Cuisine Home Cooking for my chicken. $7 for a thigh and leg of a grilled chicken, I was looking forward to this popular dish. Sadly, what I got was an overcooked piece of dry chicken with hardly any flavor beyond the charred exterior. I won't completely discount a food just because it is slightly burned, but when the rest of the chicken had nothing special to set it apart, I felt cheated. The sauce disappointed me the most. I have never heard of jerk chicken served in any type of barbecue sauce, much less a bland and thin sauce. The jerk seasoning, created by the native Tainos, is a combination of allspice, Scotch bonnet peppers, and a variety of other ingredients that goes on the meat as a dry rub. The meat is then grilled in a barbecue to produce a smoky flavor. Considering that this place had to supplement its chicken with a sauce shows that they didn't know how to properly cook a good chicken. Refer to my entry on Pollo a la Brasa for an excellent example of rotisserie chicken.

Lastly, I managed to avoid the seductive funnel cake and try the banana pudding instead. I'm not entirely sure how authentic banana pudding is to the Caribbean, but I know there is potato pudding in Jamaica and obviously bananas as well. It wasn't so much the authenticity that attracted me as it was the person in the banana suit handing out samples from Nana Queen's. After watching Arrested Development it's just too hard to refuse a person in a banana suit. Eschewing the caramel and strawberry flavors, I ordered the "O.G. Nana" pudding for $5. It was a good size, maybe 6-8 ounces. Luckily I shared it with my girlfriend, otherwise it would have been my just desserts. Although delicious in sample sizes, the full size was too sweet. The vanilla wafers gave it slightly different textures that was refreshing. Also, the real banana pieces was reassuring.

I didn't stay very long at the festival; after all, I was there for the food and not the music. Although once I got inside, I realized how I could easily spend the day there if I had some good company. Getting involved in these cultural events is a great way to find new cuisines.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tokyo Table Sake Night - CLOSED

Last night I went out with my FoodDigger coworkers to Tokyo Table's Sake Night event. This was the third instance of a supposedly monthly event, but the turn out was relatively low. They claim it has to do with the short two-week notice, but I also wouldn't discount the $10 price increase to $45 per person. Still, $45 gets you unlimited sake and food pairings. I definitely saw groups of people emphasizing the tasting a little less than the actual downing of plastic cup after cup of alcohol.

Personally, I've been a fan of sake ever since my first cup. I have never developed a taste for wine, but beer and sake are my drinks of choice with a meal. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that sake, although frequently referred to as rice wine, is actually more similar to rice beer because of its fermenting process. Rice is fermented through the help of a specific mold instead of hops used in beer, but they are both processed from grain not fruit like wines. With my Moleskine reporter pad in hand, I ventured into the restaurant. Unfortunately, I did not bring my camera. Instead, I scanned images of the complimentary info cards they provided with most of the sakes. I will go through each one and explain my impressions of them. Frequently, my opinion will not match the descriptions on the cards, but I'm speaking as a sake newbie so I haven't developed quite such a sophisticated palette. Before I review each booth for the food and the alcohol, I will explain some terms common for sake and wine in general.

Premium class sakes have designations that let you know roughly the quality of the wine. They're primarily classified according to two major criteria: whether additional alcohol is added to extract flavor and how much the rice is milled before brewing. When pure distilled alcohol is added, additional water is also added so the alcohol content remains the same. This is called honjozo sake. In contrast, junmai sake is made with only the rice, water and fermentation mold without additional alcohol. This tends to be more expensive because of its purity and also more complex in flavor and body.

Before sake is brewed, the rice needs to be milled to remove the husk and other impurities. The more the rice is milled, the smaller the kernels and purer the drink. All junmai sakes must be made from rice milled to at least 70% of its original size. Sake from rice milled to at least 60% is termed ginjo. This process of further rice polishing is labor intensive and adds significant costs to the process. Once the polishing has reached 50% or more, the sake is now classified daiginjo.

Here is a list of terms I will use to describe each sake. They are pulled from Wikipedia's list of wine descriptors and can be used for all types of wine.
Acidic-noticeable sense of acidity or tartness
Balanced-all flavors pronounced equally
Body-sense of alcohol or feeling in the mouth
-layers of aromas and flavors
Closed-not especially aromatic
Complex-deep flavors with combinations of aromas
Dry-lacking sensation of sweetness
Finish-perception and lingering feeling after swallowing
Hot-overly alcoholic
Sweet-sensation of sugars

Now join me for my first real exploration of this delicious Japanese spirit. I will run through each booth with my impressions of the sake, food and the combination of both.

Booth 8
Though technically the last booth, this was the bar at the front of the restaurant and so the first to greet customers. A friendly waitress poured from silver martini shakers house saketinis, fruity girl drinks that I'm not ashamed to like. They were cold and refreshing, crushed ice gave them a slushy consistency with hardly a tinge of alcohol. The first one was the Key Lime Saketini, slightly tart and acidic but tasted watered down. Second, our bartender poured out little plastic cups of Yuzu Saketinis, using the fruit of the Japanese citrus yuzu. It's not a common fruit in the States, but you'll most likely encounter it in ponzu sauce. This second martini was better than the first, the flavors more pronounced but still lacking all that much depth. The third Saketini, Geri's Berries, had all the flavor that the other two lacked. It was made of a mixture of fruit juices including pomegranate which manifested itself heavily in the drink.

Booth 1

Making my way back to the proper first booth, I came across a young waiter wearing a sponsored kimono with red, green and yellow accents. He bid me over to his table to try the three sakes with pairing of miso cod and albacore delight rolls. The miso cod was delicate, balancing well with the light miso-soy and scallions. The albacore sushi was actually quite rich and truly a delight. Even though I typically shun special California rolls labeled "sushi" I can indulge in my inner crab and avocado roll from time to time. The tuna was more of an afterthought. Initially, the waiter poured me the kanchiku. The description was not far off, I definitely tasted a fruity finish but it felt slightly too hot for me. The jun shimeharitsu did not have the overpowering alcoholic taste of the previous sake, but felt light and crisp. This was especially memorable because I distinctly remember how aromatic it was as I brought the glass to my lips. The dassai did not taste particularly complex, but it was well balanced. Not counting the first three saketinis, I handled my first three glasses pretty well. No effects yet.

Booth 7
Unfortunately, I do not have any cool collectors' sake cards for the two shochikubai sakes at booth 7. Kevin, the server, explained that these were the two house sakes that are used to make the saketinis. Under the watchful guise of the shochikubai sales rep, he explained to me how the special shochikubai organic is a draft sake. Draft meaning, in Japan, unpasteurized to maintain a smoother taste. I couldn't taste any difference, but its nice to know that the rice is organic with no preservatives or sulfites. For your information, sulfites in red wine give me the worst headache. Kevin told me this is paired best with cold or vinegar-marinated foods, but he was serving char-siu and lobster dynamite, neither of which could be considered cold or light. The char-siu, prepared in house, was deliciously fatty and would have gone well with a bowl of ramen. The lobster dynamite, a combination of lobster, broccoli and creamy dynamite sauce was mouth-watering. I actually came back for seconds of that later on in the night. The shochikubai ginjo is the house sake. I thought the flavors were transparent, very straight-forward and bold. I appreciated it for its boldness, but I typically like a more subtle wine where I have to search out the hidden flavors.

Booth 2

A hapa waiter with a cheerful disposition dispensed the next three sakes. His table featured anago tempura (deep-fried sea eel) and unagi & avocado rolls. To pair with the anago, he poured the jinyu 100 poems because of its sweetness and complex bouquet. Typically when matching sakes to food, the heavier the food, the lighter the sake and vice versa. You don't want to be overwhelmed with too many flavors, nor do you want to be underwhelmed. The jinyu 100 poems had a fruity, sweet flavor that I greatly enjoyed. It lacked the astringency of the other drier sakes. For the more flavorful unagi roll, my hapa friend selected the kurosawa kimoto and kikusui. Both these sakes felt empty or undistinguished. They felt too dry for me, even when paired with food. After another three glasses of alcohol, I waved good-bye to my hapa buddy and moved on.

Booth 6

Across the room, the waitress at booth 6 caught my eye. I wandered over, made a little idle chit-chat. Hey, I was there to socialize and plug our upcoming website "So, how long have you worked here?" Tamanohikari tasted too dry, but the pleasant finish of rice made me reconsider my first impression. I always enjoy rice flavors; when you taste it, it almost feels like a reward. Paired with the hamachi carpaccio, the sake did improve. For the life of me, I could not figure out how the hamachi was a carpaccio and not just a sashimi. The menu said it was sprinkled with a ponzu dressing, but I felt that the dressing was hardly noticeable. "So, you worked as a bartender, that's impressive." I preferred the daishichi kimoto, with its sweetness and airy body. "Yeah, I'm a food blogger. Check out my blog sometime." The yuzu pepper chicken was by far the worst dish of the night. Some parts were burnt, obviously overcooked and dry. It had not flavor beyond a protein supplement. "Well...I guess I'll see you around." I walked away, slightly more informed, but also a bit dejected.

Booth 3

Good thing booth 3 only had two sakes and some hearty food. At this point, I was feeling ten little glasses of sake and four tiny saketini shots (I went back for another Geri's Berries). The Szechuan-style spicy tofu hit the spot. Served in a cup because of its soupy consistency, the spiciness took some of the edge off the alcohol. It actually went well with the nanbu bijin, which had a sweet, soft finish. The lightness of the sake balanced the weight of the tofu sauce. I reluctantly tried one of the Philadelphia rolls. I've always been skeptical of cream cheese and salmon sushi, and rightly so. The Philly roll was cloying, stuck to my mouth with an unpleasant texture. I finished it before moving on to the shirakabegura. This sake definitely had a grainy rice flavor, but it interestingly also had a thick body that lingered in my mouth. It felt denser than the sakes before. Finishing this booth, I took a break at the water table and cleansed both my palette and my head. I wasn't drunk, but the alcohol had blunted my taste buds and I started to worry that I won't be able to fully experience the rest of the sake. Still, there were two more booths to go, including their most expensive sake.

Booth 5

Considering how much I've had to drink at this point, I still managed to maintain a pretty lucid conversation with this waitress. She explained to me the different grades of premium sake, what all the Japanese meant. I also asked her about serving the sake warm. It seems that only cheap sake is served warm because the heat masks the flavor. All the sake served tonight was slightly chilled. I think I managed to appear relatively sober speaking to her, though apparently not sober enough. The yaemon, paired with tempura roll worked nicely. A fruity flavor seemed to work together well with fried foods. The otokoyama had a medium body, nothing extraordinary. I had that with the ginger Kurobuta pork. This pork, known commonly as Berkshire pork, is known for its intense marbling. Unlike typical American pigs that are now bred lean to suit market preference, Berkshire pigs are prized for the richness of flavor. They are often compared to the wagyu beef, mostly notably from the Kobe area of Japan.

Booth 4

I saved their best sake for last. While I did agree that the kubotoa manju had all the complexity that you would expect in an ultra-premium sake, I didn't find it especially delicious. Just because it has richness of flavor, doesn't mean that those flavors worked well together. Just to make sure, I had another glass of the kubota manju. Still nothing struck me besides its smoothness. I actually preferred the lesser okunomatsu with its sweet rice flavor. At this point, I have gotten a better sense of the flavors I like to experience in my sakes. The agadashi eggplant was sadly served too cold to be properly enjoyed. The tuna tataki salad however, couldn't suffer from being cold. It tasted soft and buttery.

All in all, this was a truly gratifying experience. My boss drove me home (always have a designated driver for tastings) where I compiled the information I heard and the notes I took. I discovered that like white wine, I enjoyed sweeter sakes with long finishes. The additional pronounced flavor of rice is also a plus. I encourage you to try a sake at your next Japanese meal. Look for anything that says ginjo, daiginjo or jumai and you should be okay.

My Favorites: Jun Shimaeharitsu and Jinyu 100 Poems

Thanks to John Gauntner of for sake information.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chinese Sticky Rice 糯米飯

I have not been able to find very many good sticky rice (糯米飯)recipes online. This wonderful dish was a Thanksgiving staple in my house for years, our Chinese answer to traditional stuffing. For each step, I have included some interesting facts as an aside in italics. Here's my recipe; there are quite a few steps, but I'll try to make it as simple as I can.

Inactive Prep Time: 30 mins
Active Cook Time: 40 mins
Serves 3 as a main course, 5-6 as a side

1 1/2 cups glutinous rice
1/2 cup jasmine rice
3 Chinese sausages
8 Dried shiitake mushrooms
1/4 bunch of cilantro
1/2 yellow or white onion
2 stalks green onions
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tbls. rice wine or cooking brandy
2 tsps. soy sauce
1 tbls. oyster sauce
2 tsps. sweet chili sauce

1. Find a short-grain glutinous rice. This is the one I picked up at my local 99 Ranch. It is also known as sweet rice. For this recipe, I mix 3 parts short-grain rice with 4 parts Jasmine rice. Do not wash the rice, but instead soak it in cold water.

Rice is made up of two types of starch: amylose, a long chain of glucose, and amylopectin, branched chains of glucose. Long-grain rice has more amylose and need more water to cook than short-grain rice which has more amylopectin. The more amylopectin, the softer and stickier the texture of the rice. Arborio rice used in Italian risotto is short- to medium-grain resulting in a fluffy texture similar to sticky rice.

2. Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water to allow them to rehydrate.

Shiitake mushrooms are cultivated decomposers that grow on rotting oak trees. Chinese have been harvesting shiitakes since the 13th century. Studies have linked these mushrooms to tumor inhibition in humans. Contrary to popular belief, mushrooms should be washed before preparation and not just brushed. They will not absorb much water considering they are mostly water to begin with.

3. While the mushrooms and rice are soaking, begin chopping the onion, green onion and cilantro. Set the green onion and cilantro aside in the fridge under a damp paper towel for garnish.

Cilantro is actually the plant that grows from coriander seed. Though they are the same plant, the taste is widely different and cannot be substituted. Cilantro grows in sand, so make sure to wash it thoroughly. If you want it to keep longer in your fridge, put it into a small bottle of water like a vase. Even then, make sure to use it in less than a week or so.

4. Remove the shiitakes from the water but reserve the soaking liquid. It will be used to cook the rice and infuse it with mushroom flavor (I hate the word "infuse" in cooking, but in this case it actually applies). Reserve two mushrooms whole and place to the side. Chop the remainder of the mushrooms finely. When chopping the mushrooms, remove the stem; they are typically too woody and not good eats very fun to chew on.

5. Slice the sausage into quarters lengthwise. Then chop those quarters into small pieces. It is a versatile ingredient that lasts long and is useful for all types of stir-fries. You can find it at most Chinese groceries.

6. Heat a large frying pan or wok on medium-high until a drop of water sizzles. Combine the sausage, onion and mushrooms and place in the pan. Don't add extra oil because the sausage has plenty of fat to fry the shiitakes and onions. Add a dash of rice wine or brandy and stir-fry until the onions have turned golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add soy sauce and oyster sauce to the mixture. Be careful not to add too much, although at this point it will be excessively salty because it will also flavor the rice later.

Oyster sauce is actually made from oysters unlike its counterpart hoisin sauce which means seafood sauce but has no seafood ingredients.

This is what the mixture should look like at the point of adding the oyster and soy sauces. Notice that the onions have softened and that the sausage has browned nicely. This kind of sausage needs to be fully-cooked before eating.

On lazy nights, simply place two sausage on top of the raw rice and water in your rice cooker and let it all cook together. The sausage will flavor the rice and the steam will cook the sausage thoroughly. Consider adding a steamer attachment that comes with most modern rice cookers and steaming some vegetables at the same time.

7. Drain the rice and put into a medium to large pot with a lid. Place the reserved two shiitake mushrooms in with the rice. Pour in equal parts of the liquid used to soak the mushrooms and chicken broth. The liquid should come cover the rice. Lid the pot, keeping it to one side to let a small opening for steam to escape. Turn the heat to medium-low.

8. When the rice has absorbed some of the liquid, about 10 minutes, spoon the fried mixture over the rice. Do not stir or otherwise disturb the rice yet. It is not done. Recover the pot and let it cook for an additional 10 minutes or so.

9. When the rice has finished cooking and absorbed all of the free-standing liquid, it should reach this consistency. At this point, you can stir the rice to incorporate all the ingredients together. Also, you can add additional oyster sauce to taste. To plate like my serving suggestion above, fill a bowl with sticky rice and simply turn over onto a place. Garnish with green onion, cilantro and sweet chili sauce.

There are many variations to the recipe. Some ingredients I would consider adding include dried shrimp and Chinese dried pork. As I mentioned before, consider using this as an alternative to stuffing. It is great as a main course to a simple meal or a side dish to a more elaborate feast.

Some research from On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.