Meals and recipes right out of the pages of books

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A meal from GIRLS OF PAPER AND FIRE by Natasha Ngan

“…the palace food is delicious […] steaming bowls of coconut rice… […] sugared glutinous rice-balls […] we have breakfast—usually rice-balls […] The fragrance of coconut-steamed rice rises out.”

“I don’t dare touch the bamboo basket, even though the smell of the dumplings inside makes my mouth water. […] I consider not eating the dumpling out of principle—who needs pity dumplings, anyway?” 

“[…] ..her name was revealed on the bamboo chip… […] the name painted on the bamboo chip is mine.”


Sweet Rose-flavored Coconut Rice Balls

In a small pan, bring 1 cup of sushi rice + 1 cup of water + 1 cup of coconut milk + 1/8 tsp salt to a boil over high heat. Then reduce to low heat, cover, and cook until all the liquid is absorbed (about 30 minutes). Remove from heat. Add 3 tbsp of sugar + 1/2 tsp of rose water to the rice. Stir and let the rice cool down. Scoop about ½ tbsp of rice and make a ball, then roll in coconut flakes (1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes). Serve warm.


Bamboo Shoot Salad

Slice 2 cooked bamboo shoots into thin slices (or drain a 12 oz can of sliced bamboo shoots). Toss with 1 tbsp of olive oil + 2 tbsp cilantro + ¼ tsp of salt. Serve cold.


Prawn Dumplings

In a bowl, combine 1 lb of uncooked prawns (peeled, deveined, and finely chopped) + 1/3 cup chopped scallions + ½ cup chopped cilantro + 1 tsp sesame oil + 1 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp pepper (for extra taste, add 2 tsp of lime zest). Mix well and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

Line 40 dumpling wrappers (3.5 inches in diameter each) on a work surface. Place ½ tbsp of shrimp mixture in the middle of each wrapper. Moisten the edge of wrapper with water and close wrapper to form a half moon. Then, press the edges together to seal the dumplings—you can also pleat the edges to provide a more secure seal (so dumplings won’t open).

Steam dumplings in a bamboo steamer for 10 minutes or boil. To boil, drop dumplings in boiling salted water and cook for 4 minutes once they reach the surface.

Remove with a slotted spoon. Serve warm.

For the dipping sauce, mix ¼ cup black vinegar + 1 tbsp soy sauce + 1/2 tbsp grated ginger.

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