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Leaf wrapIn May 2008, after a long walk in the jungle, we decided, Jun, Tid, and myself to prepare and cook rice made in bamboo, and in a method that was commonly used for centuries, before being forced out, giving way to common and modern methods used today.

I was quite excited to try this out, as I couldn’t really picture the scene without a saucepan, or another similar device, and I didn't want to ask too many questions - as this would have ruined the surprise.

 

 

Searching for the appropriate bamboo

Jun started to look for a suitable bamboo leaf (culm). According to him, the ideal leaf is one with long sections - and as chunky as possible in order to resist the fire until the rice is finally cooked.

 

Cutting the bamboo

He did, after a couple of minutes find a nice one. There is a prevalent use among farmers in southern Thailand of the Meed-Nore ( มีดงอ - mêet ngor), a curved blade, with an elongated round handle made of wood, and very effective once you get used to it.

 

Choosing the leaves

The leaves are for making the rice bundles and they should be young and fresh. For the wrapping ( ใบเหร็ด - bai hăy ) on this occasion, we used leaves from a ginger type plant. The use of banana leafs ( ใบตอง - bai dtong ) is more common though.

  

Placing the rice on the leaf

The rice is placed on the leaves after rinsing, and the process of wrapping starts. It may look simple but if you tie them more than necessary, you end up with fissures. There has to be enough space left around the bundles for the water as well. Jun told us that he had to practice a couple of times before getting it right. So, don't rush things on your first attempt if you decide to try this.

 

 

Wrapping the rice

 

Wrapping the rice

 

When the bundles are ready, they are inserted into the bamboo and the size of it will decide the amount of rice/bundles you can place inside.

Folding the leaf

Adjusting the bundle

Inserting the bundles

 

Pouring water

Water is added and the bamboo tube is placed on low fire. The way to do this can differ from person to person - some place the bamboo directly in the coal, some on the side like here. To my surprise the rice was done before the fire could destroy the entire bamboo.

 

On the flames

 The bamboo is rotated now and then just to make sure is evenly heated / burned.

 

Splitting the bamboo

When it's ready, experience will tell you that, the bamboo is split in two revealing the bundles, now in olive green.

 

Rice in leafs

Rice in leafs

The rice is excellent! It has a subtle flavour from the bamboo and the fresh leaves, and possesses a distinctive taste of freshness and cleanliness.

 

The chicken was excellent

As everybody seemed satisfied and happy, it was time to relax, and of course, make some jokes!

- Pictures from this article can also be seen in the Gallery section.

 


  • Special thanks to ประยูน จันทร์หนู ( Prayoon Junnau - Jun ), เสนาะ อินทรสาคร ( Sanor Intrasakon - Tid ) and all the others that helped that day.

 

Further Reading:
- Ancient Chamorro Society by Lawrence J. Cunningham (ISBN-10: 1880188058).