I always think that no matter what the missing ingredient is for a certain recipe, I can make it work with whatever I have on hand. And usually that is not such a bad way of thinking either as it generally gets the job done and has given me some surprisingly delicious new recipes in the process. However when it comes to rice flour I do not have a very good track record. Remember I made the pretty steamed rice cakes before where the first attempt wasn’t too successful either? This was kind of a similar thing… Maybe it is the combination of steaming and rice flour that short circuits my brain…
The recipe is from Cambodia and these (normally pretty) little cakes are traditionally used for ceremonies such as weddings. Nom kom symbolizes womanhood to the Cambodians. It is also traditionally supposed to be soft and sweet, not hard and chewy.
First of all I decided that I could use regular rice flour instead of the sticky rice flour the recipe called for. Secondly it told me to use freshly grated coconut but I did not have a coconut lying around so I used the dried variety and figured if I added a little extra water and a bit of coconut I could sort of make it resemble fresh. The dough came together fairly well, even though I kind of felt that it should have been a different texture, but I thought it would work. And well it did work in a way, just not the way it was supposed to.
I then had a hard time filling the dough with the coconut. Not because the coconut was falling apart but because the dough wasn’t wrapping around it nicely making it kind of a messy ball which then had to be wrapped in a banana leaf. I keep packages of banana leaf in my freezer so I just had to defrost a few and they were ready to go. However, wrapping a round thing into a banana leaf…. Not my thing I guess. Not sure if I squashed them flat during the wrapping process or if the wrongness of the dough made them flat during the steaming process. Either way; they came out looking fairly flat with the exception of the very last one which ended up looking almost round!
Which goes to show that practice makes perfect right? Then taste…. I did NOT add enough sugar into the dough and/or the coconut mixture. So it tasted mostly bland. I fixed that by making a little mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and voila, I had sort of a dip, that made it all taste quite good! Maybe not anything a true Cambodian would put out on the table but still quite good for having a little dessert snack mid-day.
I highly recommend you do not follow this recipe but if you must…. here it is!
Sticky rice cakes with coconut filling
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 15
Total Time: 25 mins
The original recipe calls for using sticky (glutonous) rice flour and freshly grated coconut. It also mentions to smoke the coconut filling to create a unique flavor to the dish. That would have taken hours and require beewax. I went without that process too. So the below recipe is my version of the original and - you've been warned - it's a bit flawed!
- rice flour
- palm sugar
- grated coconut
- brown sugar
- sesame seeds
- banana leaves (cut into round shapes and greased with oil)
To make the dough, place the rice flour into a mixing bowl and add water and a little palm sugar until it resembles a smooth pliable dough that is not too wet and can hold it's shape. If it crumbles, it is too dry and you have a to add a little bit of water. If it is too soft, add a bit of flour. Leave dough to stand for 30 minutes
In the meantime you can prepare the filling. Heat a pan over low heat. Add some palm sugar in there and heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the grated coconut and some cinnamon and cardamom if you want. Simmer over low heat until the coconut becomes sticky and has absorbed all the sugar and spices. Remove from heat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and allow to cool.
Grease your hands with a little oil, then take a piece of dough between your hands and form a ball of around 4 cm in diameter. Flatten the ball and place coconut filling in the centre. Bring the edges of the dough up over the filling and seal the ball by pinching the sides together. Much like making a dumpling. Roll the dough into a ball.
Shape the banana leaf into a cone or try to shape the banana leaf into a cone. I did that for the first two and that didn't work out so well, so I ended just folding the banana leaf over the ball and in the end that got me the one round ball, so you might want to consider following this less then perfect method too. Secure the banana leaf with toothpicks.
Repeat these steps until all the dough and filling is used.
Put the banana leafs into a steamer and steam for about 15 minutes.
Rather heavily adapted from 'Authentic Cambodian Recipes' by Sorey Long with Kanika Linden