When my friend from school went off to university at Oxford, some of her roommates were from South East Asia. I remember one in particular from Singapore who loved to cook for everyone.
In spite of a history of colonialism and foreign occupation, Singapore thrives culturally, economically, educationally, and in terms of overall quality of life. The nation consists of 63 islands and encompasses a broad range of ethnic, language and religious groups.
I decided to develop a vegan version of their national classic: Chicken Rice. Beans can be a beautiful blank canvas for showcasing flavors, much like chicken is. I also chose to steam the food in soaked bamboo leaves of which I bought a big packet at a local Asian market for not very much money. You can steam yours in whatever way you have available, but I enjoy the way that it keeps the flavors and juices circulating in the individual packages.
Hainanese White Bean Rice
What you will need:
- 1 cup long-grain rice
- 2 lbs white beans, precooked
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 tbsp ginger, grated
- 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1 cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tomato, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
How you can do it:
- Boil three cups of water, add rice, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes or until soft.
- Combine the beans, garlic, ginger, onion and canola oil in a mixing bowl.
- Lay out three presoaked bamboo leaves per portion – one as an I and the other two overlaid in an X.
- Spoon a serving of cooked rice into the center of the leaves, followed by a serving of the beans.
- Wrap the leaves around until the package is quite tightly sealed.
- Bring a pan of water to boil, and place a sieve or colander over with a lid to preserve the steam.
- Arrange the packets in the steamer basket and allow to steam for 10 to 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, arrange the cucumber and tomatoes beautifully on the plate.
- Serve up the package, opening it to garnish with cilantro and a light drizzle of sesame oil.
This is a great dish that you can make look really sophisticated in its simplicity. The flavors should marinate well to make it so much more than regular ol’ rice and beans. Thank you, Singapore.
From mine to yours,