400g sticky/glutinous rice
5 dried lotus leaves (available in Asian supermarkets)
20g dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3cm piece ginger, grated
2 tablespoons chilli bean paste (optional)
1 eggplant, finely chopped
150g preserved vegetables, available from Asian supermarkets (I used pickled mustard and bamboo shoot)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
Sticky rice is my favourite dish at yum cha but it always comes with pork or chicken so, as I try to only eat free range, I either have to forgo my principles or miss out. So instead I make my own vegan version, packed with flavours and still ‘meaty’ with mushroom and eggplant. Add the chilli bean paste if you like a bit of heat.


1.Put the rice in a bowl and cover well with cold water and soak for about 2 hours.
2.Cut each lotus leaf in half and use two pieces to line the bottom and sides of a large steamer basket, poking a few holes through the leaves so the steam can come through.
3.Put the remaining 8 pieces in a large dish and cover with water. Weigh down with a few cans and leave to soak for about 1 hour.
4.Put the shiitake in a bowl and cover with water and leave to soak for 1 hour, then drain and chop.
5.Put the soaked rice in the steamer basket, cover and set over boiling water to cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, put the rice in a bowl and set aside.
6.Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the spring onion (reserve some of the green tops to garnish if liked), garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes then add the chilli bean paste, chopped shiitake and eggplant, sprinkle with a little salt and fry for 10 minutes.
7.Stir in the preserved vegetables, soy and hoisin sauces.
8.Pour a little hot water over the rice to loosen it up and separate the grains, mixing with a fork or your hands.
9.Roughly divide the rice into 16.
10.Place a piece of lotus on the bench and put one portion of rice in the middle and flatten out a little.
11.Top with about 2 tablespoons of the filling then top with another portion of rice then wrap up.
12.Repeat with all then place in the steamer and steam for 30 minutes.
13.Serve immediately.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Fiona Lascelles