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This is a fragrant treat for the barbeque on a Summer’s eve. The chicken is pounded with aromatic herbs and wrapped in banana leaf, then barbequed The chicken steams in the banana leaf and the charcoal adds that faint hint of smokiness that is so frequently found in Lao cuisine. Yum.
125g uncooked sticky rice
4 stalks of lemon grass, sliced (or 6 kaffir lime leaves)
8 cloves of garlic
3 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 spring onions (green part only)
10 basil leaves, sliced
500g chicken cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fish sauce or a tsp salt
1. Soak the rice in warm water for half an hour or so, rinse three times and drain off the water.
2. Using either a food processor or more traditionally, a pestle and mortar blend or pound the soaked sticky rice, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and spring onions.
3. When the mixture becomes a rough paste, add the chicken and basil and pound/blend again to create a mousse-like texture. Then add the fish sauce and eggs and mix them in with a spoon.
4. Take you banana leaves and wash them. Blanche the banana leaves in boiling water from the kettle. This cleans the leaves and also softens the fibres which helps prevent splitting when you wrap the chicken mixture.
5. Place a leaf on a chopping board and cut a square about 12cm (6”) wide. Cut away the hard stem, this will help when wrapping. Add a couple of heaped tablespoons of the chicken in the centre of the leaf. Fold the leaf into a packet and tie with kitchen twine.6. Grill on a BBQ for 5 minutes or so turning half way through. Open one to check it is cooked through and replace on the BBQ for a few minutes more if needed.