Sticky Rice Stuffing

It’s not too early to start thinking about your Thanksgiving Day menu. In fact, some people would wonder what is the holdup.

Well, I don’t have to ponder too long because we usually have almost the same food every year: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, baked oysters, a vegetable or two, relish tray, etc. One of these years, though, I’m going to switch things up a bit and make something completely different.

Perhaps, this will be the year. The reason I’m saying this is because of a rice stuffing recipe that came to my attention from the award-winning Food Network producer Irene Wong. The recipe is for Sticky Rice Stuffing, a Chinese favorite, which Wong said her mother would prepare every Thanksgiving along with traditional American classics.

The recipe contains a lot of ingredients that I really like, including rice, mushrooms sausage, shallots, cranberries and pistachios. And the nice thing about the stuffing is that it can be prepared on the stovetop.

I don’t know if my powers of persuasion will be enough to convince my family to give it a try, but what the heck, it’s worth a shot.

Sticky Rice Stuffing
3 ounces (about 6) large dried black mushrooms
1½ cups of short grain rice (also known as sweet rice)
1½ cups of short grain brown rice
4 cups of chicken stock
3 tablespoons peanut oil
3 ounces (about 2 links) Chinese sausage, diced into ¼-inch pieces
3 medium-sized shallots, finely minced
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch rounds
4 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 ounces (about ½ cup) dried cranberries
½ cup of lightly toasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
In a shallow bowl, reconstitute the dried black mushrooms with hot water. Be sure to submerge them occasionally as they plump. This should take about 30 minutes. The mushrooms are ready when you are able to squeeze the caps and not feel any hard spots inside. Remove and discard the stems, squeeze the caps until all the excess water has been removed and then cut them into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the short grain rice, short grain brown rice, 4 cups of chicken stock and 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook the rice mixture for 20 minutes, stirring with a chopstick once halfway through cooking to fluff the rice. Turn the heat off and let it rest covered for another 15 minutes.
While the rice cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the Chinese sausage and saute for 1 minute. Remove the Chinese sausage and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of peanut oil and add the garlic and shallots. Saute until golden brown, about 1 minute. Add the black mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until heated through, about 2 minutes. Add the scallions and saute for 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and cooked rice. Gently stir until well combined. Add the dried cranberries and return the pan to the stove. Over medium high heat, stir the sticky rice stuffing until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. If serving right away, transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the pistachios.
If making ahead of time, transfer the sticky rice stuffing to a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate up to 2 days. Place the foil-covered sticky rice stuffing into a preheated 350 oven for 25 minutes.
Yield: 7 cups, which serves 6.