Steamed sticky rice cakes with banana

Steamed sticky rice cakes with banana

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

Before heading to Laos, I knew I had to get a one-on-one lesson on how to fold a banana leaf parcel, Lao style. So one of my best friends, Jimmy Vongsuthi, arranged for me to meet up with his mother for a master class. I am so glad I had this lesson, as so many Lao dishes call for intricate banana leaf folding — but don’t worry, this recipe calls for one of the easier folds! When purchasing banana leaves from your Asian market, don’t buy the ones flown in from Thailand. Go for the fresher local ones, which should be vibrant green in colour.


Quantity Ingredient
500g glutinous rice, soaked in water overnight
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
200g caster sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 large banana leaves, cut into 20 cm x 30 cm rectangles
4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in half lengthways, then crossways


  1. Strain the rice and place it in a hot wok or saucepan. Stir in the coconut milk, salt and sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for 4–6 minutes, or until the coconut milk has been absorbed and the rice is thick and sticky. Stir in the oil, then transfer the mixture to a tray and cool for 5–10‰ minutes.
  2. Soften the banana leaves, either over a gas flame, in a hot frying pan, or by steaming or microwaving them for a few minutes. Lay a banana leaf on the work surface. Place one heaped tablespoon of the cooled rice in the centre of the leaf. Next add a single piece of banana, followed 1/2 tablespoon by rice on top of the banana — the banana should be sandwiched between the rice. Now fold the side of the leaves over, as you would a parcel.
  3. Repeat with the remaining rice, banana and banana leaves. If you have softened the leaves properly, you won’t need to use anything extra to secure the parcels.
  4. Half-’fill a large steamer, wok or saucepan with water and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Place the parcels in your steamer basket, seam side down, and set it over the pan of water. Steam for 30 ‰minutes.
  5. Enjoy the sticky rice cakes hot.
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