A custom passed down through the 23 generations in my husband's Hainanese family, the making of Hainan larp is a grand family affair in the village where the women folks gathered to help.
The Hainan larp is made when there is a joyous occasion like the return of loved ones, a new housing construction, birthday celebration, building a new family stove or village temple etc.
Also when someone is ill or going through a bad time or has met with an accident, we deliver our homemade larp to offer our consolation.
Whenever a lunar Chinese month is repeated or there is chaos in the community or unusual natural disasters, we have to make larp to ward off the possible bad luck.
We are not allowed to cut the larp with a knife, we have to unravel the woven strips one by one.
This unique Hainanese rice dumpling is wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch, usually made into a pillow shape but some prefer the pyramid shape. These traditional dumplings contain large chunks of fatty pork belly marinated with five-spice powder.
Traditionally, in my father-in-law's village, rice is the main ingredient, the Hainan larp does not contain any stuffing.
In present day Singapore, glutinous rice has been added to make the larp more palatable. If my larp has no stuffing, the younger generations do not want to eat it. So I have to improvise by adding stuffing of meat, mushrooms and sometimes dried shrimps.
The rare occasions when I make Hainan larp, there will be numerous requests from friends who are Hainanese and many who aren't. Who doesn't need blessings!? LOL ♥♥♥♥♥
700g glutinous rice
300g white rice
3 tbsp garlic oil, can add sliced shallots (optional) to fry together
50g dried shrimps, washed and minced
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp 5-spice powder
Combine the two rice together and mix in minced dried shrimps, garlic oil, salt, sugar and 5-spice powder. Leave it aside and prepare the pillow-shaped cases.
500 g fatty pork belly, cut into chunks
5 tbsp garlic oil
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp 5-spice powder
1 tsp pepper
Marinate the fatty pork belly with the seasonings overnight.
The Hainan larp pouch looks similar to the Malay ketupat, except that we use 4 strips of palm leaves to weave instead of two.
Using 4 strips of palm leaves, weave them into pillow-shaped or pyramid-shaped larp cases.
Leave an opening in each case to fill in the marinated rice mixture and meat stuffing. Wash them before using.
After filling in the contents, seal the larp case by tucking the ends of the 4 palm leaves tightly into the lattice pouch.
Boil some hot water in a large pot and put in the larp. Boil for 45 minutes until cooked.
Recipes of Hainanese larp are usually kept within families. Every family has their own style of making this traditional delicacy. I am publishing a basic recipe to preserve and showcase this rare dialect cuisine.
A community event : Making Hainan Larp
我们琼海农村家家会包苙, 一般阿婆都会制作，但年轻人中许多都不会包了。凡亲戚砌灶、或是我们回乡等, 乡亲都会送自己包的苙来。
2. 亲朋家办大事情，比如建房、起灶、祝寿、建坟、祈平安、建村公庙、挖井和造棺的时候, 表示祝福;