"I love the comfort of this dish," says Thompson. "It's gently grilled until golden and toasty. The rice can be cooked and steeped in the sweetened coconut cream the day before. In Bangkok, this dish is often made with the leftover grains from mango and sticky rice. Bananas seem to work best with this, both as a purée and sliced. Wrap in the banana leaves and grill. Be careful not to cook over too high a heat or for too long or the rice can become tough. Use overripe bananas for this recipe - their pronounced sugar produces a luscious paste." Start this recipe a day ahead to soak the rice.
- 4 banana leaves, at room temperature
- 1 banana, sliced lengthways
- 220 gm white sticky rice, washed to remove excess starch (be careful not to break the grains), soaked overnight in 500 ml water (1 cup)
- 4 pandan leaves (see note)
- 250 ml thick, high-fat coconut cream, preferably Kara brand (1 cup)
- 165 gm caster sugar (¾ cup)
- 80 ml coconut cream (preferably Kara brand) (⅓ cup)
- 60 gm light palm sugar, crushed
- 120 gm puréed banana (2 small very ripe bananas) (½ cup)
- 1½ tbsp young coconut water
- 1For sticky rice, rinse and drain rice and place in a steamer lined with a damp tea towel over a saucepan of boiling water so rice is slightly piled in the centre. Add 2 pandan leaves to the water to perfume the steam, then steam rice, covered, topping up boiling water as necessary, until rice is just tender (20-25 minutes; test grains from the centre for doneness). Meanwhile, stir coconut cream with sugar, 2 tsp sea salt flakes and remaining pandan leaves in a bowl until sugar dissolves (2-3 minutes). When rice is cooked, turn off the heat and add rice to coconut cream mixture. Stir to combine, then return to steamer, cover and stand over hot water until rice absorbs liquid and nearly holds its own shape (2-3 hours).
- 2For banana paste, simmer coconut cream in a wok (ideally a brass one; see note) over medium heat until beginning to separate (2-3 minutes). Add palm sugar and a small pinch of salt, and stir to dissolve (30 seconds to 1 minute). Stir in banana purée and clove, then gradually add coconut water, and gently stir over low-medium heat until paste pulls away from sides of wok(12-15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- 3Heat a charcoal barbecue and burn down to embers, or heat a char-grill pan to low heat, then heat banana leaves over grill or flame until soft and glossy (10-20 seconds). Trim hard edges and discard yellowed parts, then cut 2 leaves into 6 pieces about 20cm x 25cm, and the remaining 2 into 6 pieces about 14cm x 20cm. Wipe pieces on both sides with a clean damp cloth, then place large pieces shiny sides down on a work surface. Place small pieces shiny sides up on top, then spoon 2 heaped tablespoonfuls of sticky rice onto small pieces of banana leaf. Spoon over 2 tsp banana paste, then top with a sliver or two of banana, then spoon another tablespoonful of sticky rice on top. Fold edges of banana leaves inwards to enclose and secure parcels with toothpicks. Grill, turning once, over low heat until fragrant and toasty with strong char-grill marks on the outside (15-20 minutes). Serve warm.
Pandan leaves are available from Asian grocers. A non-stick or stainless-steel wok is also fine, but avoid using a pressed-steel wok – it will impart a metallic flavour.
Drink Suggestion: Moscato d’Asti Drink suggestion by Greg Plowes