Lo mai gai is a traditional Cantonese dish. It consists of sticky rice flavored with salted egg yolk, dried shrimp, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, and lap cheong (Chinese sausage). It is rolled up into a rectangle package and steamed for more than an hour. Unwrapping it is one of the nicest parts—aside from eating it, of course. The aroma of the lotus leaf is the first thing you perceive. That smell continues as you begin to unwrap it, but it is now joined by the aroma of the sweet sausage and seasonings like soy sauce and onion. All the elements come together once you start eating it.

Lo mai gai comes in a variety of forms with various fillings, but sticky rice and chicken are always present. Without them, lo mai gai simply wouldn’t exist.


How to prepare the dish

You will first need sticky rice to make these. Sticky rice, which is frequently referred to as “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice,” is distinct from short grain rice, the kind of rice you’d use for sushi. The sticky rice must first be soaked in water for at least two hours in order to soften it for steaming. You may also soak the rice overnight if you want to prepare these in advance. Drain the rice thoroughly after soaking. The rice will then be combined with sautéed shallots, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, and sesame oil. For taste and texture, I also like to add a small amount of dried shrimp. The dried shrimps are optional though.

The chicken is another crucial element of this meal. Before being mixed with the rice, it must first be stir-fried after marinating.

I prefer to use Lap yuk for the pork belly rather than braising fresh bellies. Lap yuk is tasty and gives the filling a slight smokiness. Also, it doesn’t require any prior cooking. I add half of an egg yolk that has been salted to the filling to give it a little touch of richness. Here, salted egg yolks can be used either cooked or raw.

When you have prepared all of the filling’s components, it’s time to package everything. Without the lotus leaf, lo mai gai would not be the same. It not only keeps everything in place but also gives the meal a mild scent.

To make lo mai gai, just place the sticky rice mixture in the center of a leaf, fold the leaf around it, and secure with twine. Then the wraps are steam-cooked for roughly 90 minutes.

The best way to eat lo mai gai is hot and fresh from the steamer.



  • 1 cup of sticky rice (sweet rice)

For the Marinated Chicken:

  • ¼ pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, sliced thinly
  • ¼ teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon oyster sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon wine
  • ½ teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • ⅛ teaspoon sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • A pinch of salt

For the Sticky Rice Seasoning:

  • ½ teaspoon wine
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce

For the Lotus Leaf Packages:

  • 1 dried lotus leaf or 2 sheets of 2-foot-long parchment paper
  • 1 tablespoon small dried shrimp, soaked in water for 5 minutes, then drained, rinsed, and patted dry (optional)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons canola or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 whole shallot, minced
  • 1 medium-size garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 dried shiitake mushroom caps, rehydrated in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained, squeezed dry, and sliced thinly
  • 1 salted egg
  • 1 ½ ounces Chinese bacon (lap yuk), sliced thinly
  • 1 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), sliced thinly


  1. Put the sticky rice in a big dish and pour water over it all. Allow to stand for two hours or overnight.
  2. For the chicken: In a medium mixing bowl, combine the chicken and the remaining marinade ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Put all the ingredients for the sticky rice seasoning in a small bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. To make the Lotus Leaf Packages, cut each lotus leaf in half down the middle. Put the leaves in a large container, cover with water, and soak for 1 hour, weighing them down with a plate if necessary.
  5. Drain the sticky rice thoroughly and place it in a large mixing bowl. If using, stir in the dried shrimp.
  6. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a nonstick skillet or wok until it shimmers. Stirring constantly, add the shallot and garlic, and simmer for about a minute or until tender. Shiitake mushrooms should be added and cooked for about two minutes while stirring until golden brown. Mixture is scraped into sticky rice, then combined. The Sticky Rice Seasoning should be mixed in.
  7. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil over high heat in the same skillet or wok until shimmering. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until it is barely cooked through. Toss the chicken onto a plate.
  8. Peel the eggs, cut them in half, then carefully scoop out the yolks with a spoon if you’re using cooked salted eggs (it’s okay if some of the egg whites are still attached). If you’re using salted raw eggs, crack them into a small dish, separate the whites from the yolks (the yolks should be brilliant orange and quite firm), and then cut the yolks in half with a sharp knife.
  9. Lotus leaves should be drained, dried with towels, and arranged on a work surface to be packaged. Alternately, lay 2 sheets of parchment paper out on the work area.

By Elijah Hughes

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