With the lunar new year approaching soon, why not try making some traditional Asian sticky rice? My favourite versions of sticky rice are Thai sticky rice with mango and Vietnamese sticky rice, which is often bought for breakfast; it is also served at special occasions as a side dish, usually with poultry.
Banana leaves are the traditional way to wrap sticky rice, but squares of cellophane and newspaper are what “xoi” vendors in Vietnam often use nowadays to package their steaming bundles. If you have a rice cooker with a steaming tray (or a traditional bamboo steamer), there’s a very simple way to make sticky rice. By using cupcake liners, you can divide the portions ahead of time, before the rice is steamed. [Actually, the best steaming surface is corn husks. But those are scarce this time of year.]
There are two important considerations to note before making sticky rice:
- Buy the right kind of rice. There are many types of rice, and even glutinous rice (sometimes called sweet rice) has several variations. Sushi rice, though it may work in a pinch, is different than the rice served in Vietnam and Thailand, and is less suitable for steaming. What you should buy instead is long grain sweet rice, also called glutinous rice from Thailand or Vietnam. (Interestingly, though it is called glutinous rice, it does not contain wheat gluten, so it should be okay for anyone on a gluten free diet.)
- Soak your rice before cooking. Two to three hours of soaking time is the ideal duration. Or you can soak the rice overnight. I like using a Mason jar to soak my rice because it doesn’t take up much space in the refrigerator and has measuring increments on the jar. For a step-by-step tutorial of the preparation and process of steaming sticky rice, see “How to Steam Sticky Rice in a Rice Cooker.”
Before we come to the recipe, I would like to invite you this week’s Lunar New Year Celebration. I am hosting a Pinterest party all week long, and am adding more recipes as people submit them. This post tells you where to find the party and how you can share your recipes.
And now for the sticky rice. Here’s my very simple recipe:
Recipe for Steamed Sticky Rice Cups
- Long grain sweet rice (glutinous rice)
- Toppings and seasonings of your choice:
- crispy fried shallots (with oil for drizzling)
- sea salt
- raw sugar
- sesame seeds
- shaved or shredded coconut
- shredded cooked pork or chicken
- soy sauce or tamari, etc.
- Cover rice with water and then add more water until at least three inches of water is above the rice layer. Soak rice for several hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Prepare a rice cooker by filling the cooker portion with 2 inches or so of water. Turn the cooker on to heat the water to boiling (with the cover on). Into the steamer basket, place several lightly greased cupcake liners. Drain off excess water from rice grains. Spoon several tablespoons of soaked rice into each liner. Place the cover over the basket and set the basket over the hot water in the rice cooker. Allow rice to steam for 25 to 30 minutes, until it becomes soft and translucent. Keep warm and covered until ready to serve.
- Sprinkle warm rice with sugar and salt, or add soy sauce to taste and other toppings as desired.