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on the side : bamboo leaf steamed quinoa cakes

Posted Dec 26 2011 5:42am


The inspiration for this dish comes mostly from memories of good old fashioned dim sum.  If you’re a fan of sticky rice or bamboo leaf wrapped anything, this is my healthy take.  The dish was actually a lot easier than I thought it would be.  It’s not everyday I break out the steamer but I’m now encouraged to use it more often.  The aroma not only permeates your kitchen, it infuses fragrance into your food.

All of you whole grain advocates know by now that quinoa takes the healthy cake over white rice.  If you’ve cooked with quinoa, you also are likely to have noticed its “sticky” quality.  Naturally, I was drawn to this grain as my white rice substitute for this dish.  Something really fun happened in the making.  The nuttiness of the quinoa almost softened from the perfume of the bamboo leaf during the steaming process.  The vegetables also imparted some of their flavors into the quinoa so when you take a bite, all of the ingredients really come together beautifully.

If you don’t have an Asian market near you, I’m certain you can find bamboo leaves or banana leaves online.  I may do that next time as navigating a somewhat foreign Asian market was rather frustrating :) .

Just a note – when you use a steamer, make sure you have some sort of a barrier between your food and the steamer.  The bamboo leaf plays that role here but if you want to steam dumplings, for instance, they need to be sitting on a bed of lettuce or piece of steaming paper.  Otherwise you’ll end up with an unwanted mess of your steamer and food!  Steam away the cold winter and let me know what sorts of creations you come up with!


  • Quinoa (1 cup)
  • Carrots (2)
  • Dried Shiitake Mushrooms (1/2 cup)
  • Scallions (2)
  • Soy Sauce (2 tbsp)
  • Brown Sugar (1 tsp)
  • Mirin (1 tsp)
  • Brown Rice Vinegar (1 tsp)
  • Salt + White Pepper


  1. Prepare the quinoa according to package.
  2. Finely chop up the carrots and scallions.
  3. Combine the chopped veggies with the cooked quinoa and mix well together.
  4. Add the soy sauce and brown rice vinegar.  Season with a little salt + white pepper.
  5. Prep the steaming vessel by filling the bottom of a wok with about an inch of water and raising it to a light boil.  Place the steamer into the wok so the bottom just barely touches the water.
  6. Spoon in about 2 tbsp of the quinoa mixture into bamboo leaves and fold into pockets.
  7. lace the quinoa cakes into the steamer.  Let them steam for a good 20 minutes.

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