How to Cook Sticky Rice Chinese Style


Chinese sticky rice is a savory staple in Chinese cuisine. It is made from glutinous or sweet rice, which is steamed and often served with a variety of dishes. This simple yet flavourful meal has been around for centuries and continues to be enjoyed today by many.

Are Lo Mai Fan and Lo Mai Gai the Same Thing?

No, lo mai fan and lo mai gai are two very different dishes. Lo mai fan is a type of Chinese sticky rice recipe that is steamed together with savory ingredients such as pork, dried shrimp, Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and vegetables. The traditional way to cook this dish is to steam it.

Lo mai gai, on the other hand, is a Chinese dish made with steamed glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves. It is typically served with a savory sauce and is often garnished with scallions or sesame seeds. Both lo mai fan and lo mai gai are delicious and easy to prepare, making them popular dim sum dishes for home cooks.

How Do You Cook Rice So It is Sticky?

The most important factor in making sticky rice is the type of rice you use. Glutinous rice works best for sticky dishes, as it has higher starch content that helps to make the texture sticky when cooked. After selecting your sticky rice, it is important to wash and soak the rice overnight before cooking.

This will help the grains to absorb enough water and become sticky when cooked. Once the rice is ready, you can cook it using your preferred methods such as steaming or boiling. 

To ensure sticky results, make sure that the ratio of liquid to rice is correct – usually, one cup of sticky rice requires 1 ¼ cups of water. For extra stickiness, use a little less water than usual. Finally, it is essential to allow the sticky rice to rest for 10 minutes after cooking before serving. Serve your sticky rice with savory sides or use it as a base for Chinese sticky rice dishes.

What Kind of Rice is Used for Chinese Sticky Rice?

Chinese sticky rice is made with glutinous or short-grain rice. Glutinous or sweet rice is a type of sticky rice that has higher levels of amylopectin, which makes it stickier than regular long-grain varieties. It is often used in traditional Chinese food such as lo mai fan. 

When cooked, glutinous rice has a sticky texture and mildly sweet flavor that is perfect for dishes like lo mai gai or sticky rice dumplings. This is also the same grain used in making risotto. For the best results, choose high-quality sticky rice that has been properly washed and soaked for several hours before cooking.

What Makes Chinese Rice Sticky?

Chinese sticky rice is sticky because of the type of rice used. Glutinous or short-grain rice has a high starch content, which gives it its sticky texture and chewy consistency. To make sticky rice, the grains are usually soaked overnight before being steamed in a pot of hot water.

The result is a sticky and fluffy texture that is perfect for wrapping around savory fillings or spooning over delicious sauces. Cooking sticky rice requires patience and practice, but with some guidance, you can make sticky Chinese rice just like a professional chef.

Components of a Chinese Sticky Rice Recipe

The ingredients for making Chinese sticky rice are simple, but the quality of the ingredients is key. The main ingredient for this dish is glutinous or short-grain rice, which must be soaked before cooking to give it its stickiness. Another key ingredient for this recipe is Chinese sausage, also known as lap cheong. Chinese sausage is an aromatic, dried, cured fatty pork sausage that can be added to any recipe such as stir-fries, braises, and many more. 

Other essential ingredients include dried shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, and ground pork. Some use cured pork belly in their recipes. Other ingredients that give this recipe its delicious flavors include soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and shaoxing wine. For optional ingredients, others add vegetables such as green onions, mustard greens, bok choy, spinach, and the like.

To get the best results in your cooking, make sure to use the freshest ingredients available. Quality rice, flavorful sauces, and tasty seasonings will make all the difference in making an enjoyable dish. With these tips, you’ll be able to create delicious Chinese sticky rice dishes that everyone will love.

Chinese Sticky Rice Ingredients

  • 2 cups glutinous rice
  • 1 oz Chinese sausage, diced
  • 6 to 8 medium-sized dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup dried shrimp
  • 1/2 lb. lean ground pork or cured pork belly
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced green onions


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Soaking the Dried Mushrooms, Shrimp, and Rice

Before going into the methods of how you can cook Chinese sticky rice at home, you will first need to soak your mushrooms and rice. Soaking the mushrooms and shrimp can help rehydrate them while soaking the rice can help make it stickier. 


  • Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl with hot water. 
  • The soaking time for the mushrooms can go anywhere between 2 to 3 hours.
  • Once soft, remove the mushrooms from the soaking liquid and gently squeeze out some of the water.


  • Wash the dried shrimp in clean water and drain.
  • Soak in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes.


  • Wash rice in a strainer or rice washer using cold water. Stir and rinse the rice until the water runs clear.
  • Transfer to a bowl and cover the grains with enough cold water.
  • Soak rice for 2 to 3 hours to get a nice, chewy texture. 
  • You may also soak overnight if you prefer a softer texture.

Three Ways to Make Chinese Savoury Sticky Rice

There are three ways you can make Chinese sticky rice: stir fry, steam, or using a rice cooker. Try out all three and see which method you like best.

Stir Fry Recipe

The stir fry recipe method is the quickest out of all three as most people who do this technique commonly use already cooked rice as opposed to making the rice from scratch. 

  1. In a bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, grated ginger, white pepper, oil, and brown sugar. Mix well to make the sauce, then set aside.
  2. Cut the dried mushrooms into slices or chunks.
  3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. After 30 seconds or when the pan is hot, add oil and swirl it around to coat the pan.
  4. Stir fry the garlic for 10 seconds.
  5. Add the dried shrimp. Cook for 10 seconds.
  6. Add the Chinese sausage and the ground pork. Cook for about 30 seconds or until mostly cooked through.
  7. Add mushrooms and stir.
  8. Add shrimp and cook until just starting to turn pink.
  9. Transfer all the ingredients in the wok to a plate.
  10. Add more oil to the same pan, then add the cooked sticky rice. 
  11. Stir-fry for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  12. Switch to medium-low heat and add the stir-fried ingredients from earlier but reserve two tablespoons for garnish later.
  13. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan as well. Mix and stir-fry everything for 3 minutes.
  14. Add the green onions. Stir to combine.
  15. Serve hot with extra soy sauces on the side for dipping if desired.

Rice Cooker Recipe

If you want to make your own rice instead of using cooked rice, this cooker method is pretty easy to follow. However, you will have to stir-fry the rest of the ingredients before adding them to the cooker. These recipe instructions can also be used to cook sticky rice in an Instant Pot or a pressure cooker. 

  1. Drain the water from your soaked rice. 
  2. Drain the shiitake mushrooms and cut them into slices or chunks.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the sauce mix.
  4. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add oil.
  5. Add Chinese sausage and ground pork. Stir until the sausages and ground pork are mostly cooked through.
  6. Add the mushrooms and the sauce mix to the pan. Heat through.
  7. Add the shrimp and cook until it turns pink. 
  8. Remove the pan from the heat. 
  9. Transfer the ingredients to the inner pot of your rice cooker and level out.
  10. Add the drained rice on top. Level it out as well.
  11. Add 2.5 cups of water to the pot.
  12. Cover your cooker and cook the rice until the rice cooker button pops. 
  13. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. 
  14. Fluff up the rice mixture with a fork or spoon. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.
  15. Serve while hot with extra dipping sauces if desired.

Bamboo Steamer Recipe

The steaming method is the traditional way to make this dish. Similar to the first two methods, you will have to stir-fry the rest of the ingredients before combining them with the rice. If you’ll be using this method, you will need a bamboo steamer or a regular steamer and some parchment paper to line your steamer.

  1. Drain the grains. 
  2. Line a two-tiered bamboo steamer with parchment paper or cheesecloth and fill the bottom tier with boiling water. You may also use a regular steamer.
  3. Place the glutinous rice in the top tier of your lined bamboo steamer and cover it.
  4. Cook the rice for 25 to 40 minutes or until chewy. 
  5. In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.
  6. Heat a large pan over high heat. Add the oil.
  7. Once hot, saute the garlic and ginger.
  8. Add in the sausage and ground pork. Stir fry until cooked through.
  9. Add the mushrooms and mix for 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Remove the ingredients from the pan and set aside.
  11. In the same pan, add the steamed rice. 
  12. Over medium-low heat, mix in the ingredients from earlier.
  13. Pour in the sauce.
  14. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water and let the rice cook over low heat, mixing to coat the rice evenly with the sauce. 
  15. Stir in the chopped green onions.
  16. Cover the pan and leave it for 2 to 3 minutes or until the excess liquid has been absorbed.
  17. After, place the rice mixture back into the steamer. Close the lid of the steamer to prevent it from cooling too fast.
  18. Serve while hot. Add extra sauces on the side for dipping if desired.

Chinese Sticky Rice Dish Tips

  • To make this recipe more flavorful, you may also use Five Spice as your seasoning. Simply mix star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and fennel together to make your own Five Spice.
  • The dried mushrooms can also be soaked in warm water. 
  • Remember to soak the dried shrimp in warm water as well to help soften them up. 
  • Instead of ground pork, you may also use chicken. Cut the chicken into small chunks for it to mix better with the rice. 
  • It is important to use glutinous rice for this recipe as regular rice does not have the same sticky, chewy texture.
  • If you have leftovers, transfer portions to airtight containers and freeze them.

Final Note

Making Chinese savory sticky rice is simple and enjoyable if you use the right ingredients, take your time and follow our instructions. With a little practice and patience, you can master the art of cooking delicious sticky rice dishes that will have everyone asking for more!  So grab some glutinous rice, gather your ingredients, and get to work on creating your own delicious Chinese sticky rice dishes. Enjoy!