Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beyond The Great Wall - Dai Traditional Food & Recipe

There are 1.5 billion people who live in China, and approximately 92% are Han Chinese, that is ethnically Chinese. Most of this blog explores the Han culture. However, in the outer regions of China, beyond the great wall,  various ethnic "minorities" abound. In fact, there are 56 officially recognized ethnic "minorities" in China, which accounts for about 125 million people.

The Dai prefer to eat spicy and sour foods. Rice is a common staple, particularly glutinous rice, and is served in a variety of ways. One of their most noted traditional dishes is bamboo steamed rice. Glutinous rice soaks for hours, and is then packed into sections of freshly cut bamboo. The bamboo is then wrapped in a banana leaf and tied with grass. This bamboo packet of rice is then roasted over a fire for about fifteen minutes. 

Bamboo sticky rice (Source)
It is worth taking a look at the Top Eight Dai People's Dishes, which includes bamboo steamed rice, fried moss, and the pineapple purple rice that inspired the recipe we tried.

Dai Pineapple Rice
Photo Credit: Alpha
Keep reading for the pineapple rice recipe

Bo Luo Fu, or Pineapple Rice, is traditionally done with purple glutinous rice, and from the varied sources I've looked at can be served simply as is, or topped with a variety of choices, from peanuts to shrimp to, based on image above taken in a Dai village, candied sprinkles. 

Bo Luo Fun

Pineapple Rice
Adapted from Gourmet Traveller

3 cups glutinous white rice, soaked overnight
1 ripe pineapple
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt & pepper

Drain rice and steam in bamboo steamer, lined with cheesecloth, for about 30 minutes, until soft.

While rice is cooking, cut pineapple in half, lengthwise. Scoop out pineapple, and reserve the juice. Discard the core, and dice the rest of the pineapple. 

Heat oil in large pot over medium - high heat. Add pineapple and juice, and cook for one minute. Add steamed rice. Mix well, and season with sugar, fish sauce, salt and pepper. 

Take rice off the oven, and stir in green onions. Transfer into pineapple shells, and steam for 15 minutes.

In order to steam the pineapple, we placed a cookie cutter on the bottom of a large frying pan and poured one inch of water in it. I placed the pineapple on the cookie cutter, and covered the pan with aluminium foil. We had to cook each half separately. 

Dig in with a pair of chopsticks and enjoy!
(Pea did not want to be in these pictures, but she couldn't help digging in.)

All four of us enjoyed this quite a bit. Luckily, this recipe makes quite a bit, so we had plenty leftover after our evening snack. It would be delicious with chicken or fish. 

To learn more about the Dai, check out our other posts for Beyond the Great Wall, including a printable bookmark inspired by Dai embroidery , bamboo architecture, a water splashing festival, and the beautiful Dai Peacock dance, with golden peacock craft.

There are more activities celebrating cultural diversity at the Culture Swapper Linkup


  1. This looks delicious! I love using the pineapple as a serving dish. And it's interesting that banana (or sometimes plantain) leaves are also used in Latin American cooking. Nature's steaming dishes! Thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper :)

    1. It really was delicious - this recipe is going to be a keeper :) Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!


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