Steamed chicken with red dates in lotus leaf

Steamed chicken with red dates in lotus leaf

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

The French are famous for cooking en papillote — wrapping their food for cooking — and the Chinese have a similar method too. Bamboo, banana and lotus leaves are often used to wrap food, which seals in all the juices and flavourings. And serving a little wrapped parcel of food to your guests always adds to the air of anticipation, as they unwrap the leaves and breathe in the aromas for the first time.


Quantity Ingredient
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
16 dried large red dates
4 dried lotus leaves
8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
4 spring onions, finely sliced, green part only


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon sesame oil
4 spring onions, cut into 1 cm pieces, white part only
2 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely shredded
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  1. Put the shiitake mushrooms and red dates (remove the stones if they aren’t already pitted) in separate heatproof bowls, cover each with boiling water and soak for 30 minutes, then drain. Slice the mushrooms. Soak the dried lotus leaves in boiling water to soften, then pat dry.
  2. To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chicken, mushrooms and dates and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour. Bring back to room temperature before cooking.
  3. Place two plates into two steamer baskets (or steam in batches), then line each plate with two lotus leaves, slightly overlapping each other. Put half of the chicken mixture on the top of each plate of leaves and wrap the leaves around the chicken to form a parcel. Put the steamer baskets on top of each other, place over a wok or saucepan of simmering water, then cover and steam the chicken for 35–40 minutes, or until cooked through (unwrap a parcel to check if the chicken is cooked). Place the lotus parcels on a platter and unfold the leaves, then sprinkle over the green spring onions. Serve with steamed rice.
Real Food of China
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