I am excited to partner with Brandon Jew, Chef of Michelin starred Mister Jui’s restaurant in Chinatown, San Francisco. Our Plat Dish Tote in Olive paired with Brandon’s new cookbook can be found exclusively at Mister Jiu's this holiday.
My family and I have been dining at Mister Jiu's since it opened in 2016. Last year, during the PPE shortage of the pandemic, we supplied the culinary team with Aplat Masks to help keep them safe. This year, I was thrilled when Chef Brandon Jew launched his cookbook, Mister Jiu’s in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food. It has been fun cooking from the book with the kids, making recipes like milk bread and Chinese pancakes.
“I love this dish (Sticky Rice) because it’s such a satisfying substitute for ordinary stuffing. The aroma of the lotus leaf imparts into the rice and the lap cheong and mushroom provide the umami when you eat it along with the turkey during Thanksgiving. I look forward to that bite every year for Thanksgiving dinner.”
~ Brandon Jew - 1 Star Michelin
Noh Mái Gãi
Quail With Sticky Rice
Serves 4 to 6
Active Time - 1 hour,
Plan Ahead - You can start up to 2 days before for brining the birds, and at least 4 hours for soaking the lotus leaves, rice, and dried shrimp. Plus you'll need time to make Chicken Stock, 10 Spice, and Lap Cheong.
Makes 4 servings
Special Equipment - Steamer
2 cups/ 480ml cold water
1 cup / 240ml Shaoxing wine 2¼ tsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
4 semi-boneless large quails (about 8 oz / 225g each), or 2 Cornish game hens (1 lb/ 450g each)
One 12-inch-wide dried lotus leaf
½cup/ 100g short-grain glutinous rice (such as Sho Chiku Bai)
2 Tbsp long-grain jasmine rice
1 Tbsp small dried shrimp
1 Tbsp neutral oil
2 tsp peeled and minced ginger
½cup/ 40g small-diced fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed
2 Tbsp thinly sliced Lap Cheong
1 Tbsp pitted, finely chopped dried jujubes or Medjool dates
⅔ cup/ 160ml Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp light soy sauce (sãng chãu)
2 Tbsp thinly sliced (crosswise) green onions
3 Tbsp oyster sauce
3½ Tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
½ tsp ground ginger
⅛ tsp 10 Spice
2 oz I 55g Chinese rock sugar, broken into small chunks
¼ cup / 60ml water
2 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1½ Tbsp 10 Spice
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1½ cups / 360ml Chicken Stock
1½ tsp dark soy sauce (Ióuh chãu)
10 Spice for seasoning
Sixteen 1-inch pieces Lap Cheong
4 fresh figs, quartered, or 6 halved pitted sweet cherries, or 6 halved seedless red grapes
¼ cup / 35g crushed, toasted cashews
Red veined sorrel for garnishing
The centerpiece of a dinner at my grandparents' was often noh mái gãi, sĩn-rich sticky rice laced with a whole deboned chicken, lap cheong, mushrooms, and dried seafood, all wrapped in a lotus-leaf parcel. I think of it as the Chinese equivalent to turkey and stuffing, only this isn't just eaten at special times of a year. But because no one has the time to roast a Thanksgiving-size bird on the regular, finding a smaller one was key to having a couple bites of this tradition without committing to a feast.
This is where Brent Wolfe of Wolfe Ranch comes in. Brent is a legendary rancher, known especially for his quail, which he raises, processes, and delivers himself. Our version of noh mái gãi with his quail is a dish that has been on our menu from Day One. We change the fruit in this recipe to follow the seasons and have occasionally made a different dish entirely when ingredients aren't coming together, but his quail are always on the menu. They are that special.
If you can't find high-quality, large quail, use Cornish game hens, which will be the right size. Any bird you use must be deboned from the rib cage through the thigh. Quail is often sold "semi-boneless," which means you will need to remove just the thigh and trim the wing tips for this recipe.
To brine the birds: In a large bowl, combine the water, wine, sugar, salt, and pepper and stir this brine until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
If necessary, debone the birds so that the meat and skin are intact and the birds can be stuffed, leaving the wings and drumsticks intact. Trim the quails' wings at the elbow (the largest joint), leaving just the drumette attached to the bird. Remove the thigh bone in each leg by cutting down the length of the bone to expose it, then angling the knife to scrape the meat off the bones and joints at each end; leave the drumstick intact. Save the trimmings and bones for the chicken stock needed for the jus.
Submerge the birds in the brine and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
To make the rice: In a large bowl, soak the lotus leaf in water for 4 hours. In a strainer, rinse both rices together under cool running water, then soak in fresh water for 1 hour. In a small bowl, soak the dried shrimp in cold water for 30 minutes, then drain and finely chop.
Warm a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the neutral oil and let it heat up for a few seconds. Add the ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 2 minutes more. Stir in the lap cheong, jujubes, and chopped shrimp, then transfer to a medium bowl.
Drain the rice well and add to the saucepan. Add the chicken stock and soy sauce and turn the heat to medium. Simmer until the rice absorbs all the liquid, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms and stir to combine.
Prepare a steamer in wok or a large, lidded pot following the instructions on page 167 and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat.
Shake the excess water from the lotus leaf and lay it on the counter. Spread the rice mixture onto the center of the leaf to about 1 inch thick. Make a square-ish packet by folding the bottom edge and sides of the leaf over the rice so that the rice is snugly wrapped in a couple of leaf layers. Place the wrapped rice, folded-side down, in the steamer. Cover and steam until the rice is tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Place the rice bundle on a plate. Carefully unwrap the rice (it will be steamy), transfer it to a bowl, and stir in the green onions. Let cool to room temperature. (At this point, you can transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator overnight.)
To make the glaze: In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the oyster sauce, wine, water, both sugars, ginger, and 10 Spice and stir just until everything is melted. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To make the jus: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the ginger, garlic, 10 Spice, and nutmeg and cook until fragrant and slightly darkened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 3 Tbsp, about 50 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl and discard the solids. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Divide the sticky rice into four portions and form each portion into a ball (don't squeeze too hard-you want the grains loose and just stuck together). Remove the birds from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Stuff a rice ball inside the cavity of each quail, or two in the cavity of each game hen, so that the birds look plump and full.
Near the middle of a bird's thigh, cut a short slit (about ½ inch) along the tendon that runs through it. Push the opposite leg through it. (At this point, the stuffed birds can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let them come back to room temperature before roasting, about 30 minutes.)
Preheat the oven to 450° F. Fit a wire roasting rack over a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush the birds all over with the glaze and lightly season all over with kosher salt and 10 Spice. Place the birds, breast-side up, on the prepared rack. Roast, brushing the birds with more glaze every 10 minutes, until the birds register 145° F in the thigh and the sticky rice is hot, 20 to 25 minutes for quail and 30 to 35 minutes for game hens.
Heat the broiler, brush the birds with glaze once more, and broil until the skin is evenly dark golden brown, rotating the baking sheet as needed, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the birds from the broiler and let rest for 10 minutes.
Place the steamed lap cheong and the fruit on a baking sheet and broil until just heated through, about 3 minutes.
Arrange a layer of the cashews on each serving plate. You can serve one quail on each plate per guest, but a bounty of birds on a big platter looks great too. Set the birds on top of the cashews and sprinkle with some flake salt. Arrange the lap cheong and fruit around them and drizzle the just over everything. Garnish with sorrel before serving.