January 13, 2014

Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken 荷葉蒸雞

chicken, lotus leaf, wrapped, macau, recipe, steamed, 蒸雞, 荷葉

We love Macau, the Real Macau that is. Not the new fake cardboard Macau that has appeared, Quite literally, out of the blue sea these murky past few years, the gracious but rather charming old city that has survived by crook and nook for over 400 years. This is the Macau that began as a Portuguese colony and first major European settlement port and trade in Asia. What an incredible richness of history is implied! And you can feel it when you walk through the old streets in Macau which, thank goodness, have been left largely untouched: the secrets, the hidden stories in the twists and turns, surprises around every corner.

And, a-hum, most importantly for us, the food in Macau is fantastic! Our favorite Chinese Restaurant, Tou Tou Koi 陶陶居**,  is in Macau. We go to Macau and eat, eat, eat!  Yumm! And then eat some more!!  Psst...at Tou Tou Koi the dim sum is something else too!  This time upon returning to Hong Kong after a short trip to Macau we came down with the 'food blues'.   So...to help heal our blues and as an ode to Tou Tou Koi's wonderful traditional Chinese food, we decided to make our own version of Tou Tou Koi's Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken, or steamed lotus leaf which is soooo delicious!

Ahhh...I miss Macau already...

(**UPDATE !! Tou Tou Koi is under new management or something horrible like that and we can no longer recommend it. We are so sad!  Further update Mar 2020: the restaurant is now closed.)

We go to Macau whenever Hong Kong gets to be too much, too noisy, too busy, too silly, too new, etc.  Macau has managed to maintain a laid back, almost 'lost in time' atmosphere throughout the years.  And, if you 're interested in the history of places, I can tell you that old Macau nowadays is similar to what Hong Kong used to look like!  That is before Hong Kong got too many implants and botox treatments and completely lost its original look.  I can literally feel myself uncoiling some overwound spring each time we go there.  (For a very interesting Read on the Early days of Macau, check out the 1967 novel City of Broken Promises by Austin Coates.  I'm just in the middle of the novel now !)

Hotels in Macau are plentiful, so it's easy to book a night or two; there are even some really cool old hotels.  We stayed at the Pousada De Sao Tiago this time, a great old hotel that's almost as old as Macau itself.  The hotel beds have these really amazing gothically twisted wood carved frames that reminded me of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral by Gaudi.  The grounds of the hotel were beautifully old and wonderfully wanderable.  

We did, however, encounter a ghost or two or at least my husband did.  I'm laughing as I write this now because ghosts are to him as mosquitos are to me : I always get bitten by the mozzies and he always gets nipped at by the ghosts!  I guess because Macau is such an old place with so much history packed into a small space there is a much higher concentration of spirits wandering about.   So ... warning served to the ghost sensitive folks!

chinese, recipe, steamed chicken, lotus leaf, chicken, macau

Just around the corner from the redoubtable Tou Tou Koi is the Rua da Felicidade, or The Street of Happiness, which of course is a euphemism for red light district.  Or past red light district, to be exact. (Euphemisms for red light districts always crack me up!

With its distinctive red shutters and old Chinese style wooden doors, Rua da Felicidade is nowadays mostly a tourist attraction and restaurant area.  After a delicious dim sum we went around the red shuttered buildings along Rua da Felicidade and it was a very interesting wander. Very local Macau vibe going on.

Of course, do not forget to look out for the local Macau street snacks. (Yes, we love to eat and eat some more!)  We found beef jerky, Chinese pastries, Chinese almond cakes 杏仁餅, double skin milk pudding 雙皮奶, etc.  All are traditional Chinese snacks, freshly made ​​and really yummy!  

We even discovered a guy selling Traditional Chinese Herbal teas from his cart. These herbal teas are very popular in southern China and are consumed as a part of the Chinese method of using food to balance and maintain the body's system. What a wonderful tradition!  You can not find any carts like this in Hong Kong anymore.  Shops selling herbal tea, yes, but no street carts. The Hong Kong government killed them all ! That's such a shame!

chicken, lotus leaf, wrapped, macau, recipe, steamed, 蒸雞, 荷葉

chicken, lotus leaf, wrapped, macau, recipe, steamed, 蒸雞, 荷葉

So now we are back in crazy, chaotic Hong Kong, back to the task at hand. And to recreate Tou Tou Koi's Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken 荷葉蒸雞 we started off as usual at our local Hong Kong wet market and bought fresh chicken wings, dried red dates, dried mushrooms and a dried lotus leaf.  A dried lotus leaf when unfolded, is huge! (And beautiful!)  You may need to ask specifically for it. 

Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken is actually a pretty easy dish that will become excellent if you use good ingredients, especially if you get good chicken.  Get fresh chicken (never frozen) at your wet market or get organic chicken.  It's worth it and your Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken will come out yummy like our's did!
Lotus Leaf Steamed Chicken Recipe  荷葉蒸雞
Prep time: 15 mins  Cook time: 20 mins


  • 4 whole chicken wings , chopped to bite size Pieces
  • 4 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 6 slices Jinhua Ham
  • 8 dried red dates, without pits
  • 2 tbsp Shao Hsing Rice Wine
  • 2 tbsp ginger, slivered
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 dried lotus leaf


Soak mushrooms in room temperature water for 3 hours until soft enough to slice. Soak lotus leaf in hot water for at least one hour or until soft and pliable. Rinse the dried red dates and set aside.

Mix the rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, sugar, sesame oil with the sliced ​​mushrooms, Jinhua ham and chicken. Let marinate for 15 minutes. 

Place softened lotus leaf into a dish that will comfortably fit your chicken as well as your steamer . Pour chicken mix into the lotus leaf and fold the lotus leaf over, enclosing the chicken completely. Steam at high heat for 20 minutes. 

Bring dish to the table, then open the leaf carefully for an explosion of fragrant steam. Sprinkle cilantro over and enjoy!



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