Sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice. It’s used in many different dishes, but one thing in particular is known as “jong”. These are little parcels similar to what the French call “en papillote” or like a tamale, but instead of parchment paper or a corn husk it is wrapped in a bamboo leaf. This bamboo leaf flavours the rice with an earthy, herbal sort of taste.
Other than the main ingredient which is glutinous rice, it can have a number of fillings inside. This one in particular is simple and has red bean, pork belly and salty egg yolks. Others can have shiitake mushrooms, shredded pork, Chinese sausage, chestnuts and/or taro just to name a few.
It also has spices such as cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds, pepper, chilli powder, salt, sugar and sesame. It can be made sweet or savoury, depending on what you put inside (and what you do with the rice) but for the most part one pocket is good enough as a 1-portion meal. Unravelling the package reveals a wall of rice with some hidden gems (meats, veggies, etc.) inside.
It can be steamed, but normally we boil it until it is cooked. If you buy them frozen, all you need to do is make sure that they are boiled all the way through so that they are hot. When making them, you have to ensure the rice and ingredients are cooked all the way through. Sometimes, when I want to change it up I dip pieces of it in sugar to make it sweeter.
Growing up, I’ve seen my aunt make these with my uncle. Jong can be quite time consuming to make because of the technique and number of ingredients involved. You have to take a few of the bamboo leaves, create a pocket shape with the cup of your palm, fill it with the various ingredients all while simultaneously making sure it doesn’t spill out. Then there’s the challenge of tying it together without the ingredients falling out. It does take some skill (and sometimes a second person to help out), but practice makes perfect. Jong looks similar to “lo mai guy”, but I’ll have to talk about that another day. 🙂