Coconut Rice Filling Wrapped In Banana Leaves, Arem-Arem

July 26, 2012

Coconut Rice Filling Wrapped In Banana Leaf, Arem-arem is one of unique dish from Indonesia, It is a filling coconut rice cake wrapped with banana leaves. The filling has several varieties that can be adapted to personal preferences, such chicken, meat and vegetable or combination meat and vegetables. 

Arem arem is very popular as a substitute for breakfast or snacks, it usually made by a small portion that satisfied to start the day.

According to a source, arem-arem is very popular among people especially in central Java, however as the time goes by it spread widely throughout java, Bali island and perhaps be famous all over Indonesia by now.

Do not feel so intimidated by the look and the process, it really easy to make it at home. You can always have your own way to prepare, for an example, you can make the filling ahead, refrigerated and used in the next day. 

One of interesting step in the method is roll up the rice with banana leaves, to me its pretty similar by a glance of the Japanese way of making sushi
Arem-arem is using banana leaves to wrap it up and after being rolled up, the rice has to be secure-pinned at both ends with tooth picks and continue to steam up until cooked.

Because of the Arem-arem is flavorsome so it really gives a satisfaction to enjoy the unique and distinctive flavor. It also has become one of lip smacking Indonesian wanted dish!

Well, this time I decided to make my own version of Arem-arem, It absolutely made by a portion that serves as a lunch or could be a dinner and also probably dish up with your choice of soup of the day.
I love the smell of cooked arem-arem after being perfectly steam up, its kind of earthy smoky aroma, appetizing and versatile. Because of it wrapped with banana leaves which I’d say, banana leaves are one of fantastic natural food packaging, It traditional and incredible!

Coconut Rice Filling Wrapped In Banana Leaves, Arem-Arem
Makes 4-5 wraps

Ingredients for the coconut rice

3 cups Long grain rice/regular rice
3 ½ cup Coconut milk *I used fresh coconut milk
1 Indonesian bay leaf *if cant find it, you can always make it optional/substitute with lemongrass
½ teaspoon Sea salt

Ingredients for the filling

250g chicken
5 pieces dried shiitake mushroom, soak up with warm water
(Substitute Portobello mushroom or canned button mushroom) 
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup chicken broth or plain water
4 thin slices fresh ginger root
2 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
5 bird eye chilli (Thai chili/cabe rawit)
3 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Banana leaves to wrap
Tooth picks to pinned

Making the Coconut Rice
  1. Rinse the rice with cold water to remove excess starch. Drain the rice thoroughly.
  2. In a pot, combine the water, rice, coconut milk, Indonesian bay leaf and sea salt. Stir well
  3. Cover with a lid and cook the rice over medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  4. Turn off heat, but leave the pot on the burner. 
  5. Fluffy with the fork and let the rice rest for 15 minutes with the lid still on.

Making the filling
  1. Small diced the chicken and mushrooms, reserve in 2 separate bowls.
  2. Slice the shallot and chop the garlic
  3. Heat the oil in a wok over medium high heat, Add in the garlic follow with ginger and shallot.
  4. Add in the chicken and stir fry with a wooden spoon until cooked through.
  5. Add the mushrooms and continue to stir fry for some a couple more minutes.
  6. Add in the sweet soy sauce (kecap manis) and sea salt.
  7. Stir fry with a wooden spoon and make sure ingredients are well combined.
  8. Add in the chicken broth and let it shimmer until the liquids has evaporated but not dry up
  9. Take the wok off the heat and transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl.

Wrapping up
  1. Rinse the banana leaves under cold running water. Wipe dry with paper towels.
  2. Quickly pass every part of the leaves over a low flame to soften and wilt. Be careful not to burn them.
  3. Divide the aromatic steam rice and chicken mixture into equal serving portions.
  4. Lay the banana leaf on a flat surface.
  5. Place the coconut rice on the side of banana leaf, spread rice evenly with a spoon.
  6. Place the chicken and mushroom filling in the middle of the rice follow by Placing 1 chili
  7. Roll up the rice into a long tube as tightly as you can. Secure one end with a toothpick.
  8. Hold the rice wrap with the open side up.
  9. Push the rice down through the closed end with the back of a metal spoon. Make sure the rice is well packed.
  10. Secure the other end with another toothpick.
  11. Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients.
  12. Place the wraps in the steamer and Steam up about 1 hour  
  13. Serve immediately 

Cook's Note 
 The measuring cup that comes with your rice cooker is not the same size as a standard US measuring cup (240 ml or 1 cup).
It's a cup by rice cooker industry standards (180 ml or about 3/4 cup). Unless the recipe calls specifically for rice cooker cup measurements, you'll need to adjust your measurements accordingly.

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