If you’ve ever strolled through an Asian supermarket you’ll be amazed to see the different types of rice products available. There can be dozens of different types/brands of rice, accompanied with even more varieties of rice noodles. Over the last week with my parents visiting (tear, tear they’re gone already) we made many trips to the grocery store. Since we had a kitchen I was going to take full advantage and cook as much as possible.
While my dad and Dave were scouring the beer and wine selection, my mom and I tried to grab as many exotic fruits and veggies we could spot. It amounted in a hefty bill – guess we should have tried to shop at sainburys for less.
And of course with rice being such a crucial component of any Thai meal we stocked up on all types of rice noodles and standard jasmine rice itself.
Before coming to Thailand I was familiar with rice noodles, wrappers and rice, but who would have guessed you could use rice to make dessert? Not me.
But guess what, the Asian countries have found a way to do amazing things with rice. Seriously though.
First off, just regular plain white rice here in all of Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand is vastly superior to any rice I’ve tasted in the US. Sorry. Maybe I’ve been buying the wrong kind all these years, and cooking it all wrong, but somehow all the good rice is in Asia it seems. Go figure.
Everyone also cooks this rice in a rice cooker. We’ve been in many homes and there has been a neat little rice cooker positioned by the stove in every one of them. How do you cook your rice? I had been making mine on the stovetop before, but might just have to snag one of these Asian made rice makers before I head back to the states – it really does cook it perfectly every time.
Aside from just rice they also have rice noodles and rice paper wrappers over here. Truly amazing. Have you ever had fresh pasta? That’s what fresh rice noodles taste like x 10.
They simply melt in your mouth. Kind of like ice cream – but better.
To make these strands of heaven they grind the rice to a powder, mix it with water and either ladle spoonfuls over a crepe-like pan lightly cooking them before slicing them into noodles, or directly pass them through a noodle machine which cooks them in the process.
I’ve luckily witnessed both ways and even got to try my hand at the crepe-like process.
The rice paper wrappers are made just like the crepe-pan except way thinner than for the noodles.
So now that we’ve covered a variety of rice appetizer, mains, and sides, now we’ve got dessert.
This is where the sticky rice comes in. Also known as glutinous rice this is completely unlike the other type of rice in Thailand – jasmine rice.
Rather than being cooked in the rice maker this is cooked in a bamboo steamer basket over simmering water. When combined with a spalsh of coconut milk, sugar, and pandan leaves the result is a silky, milky slightly sweet concoction.
If you love rice pudding you’re bound to love this. And if you hate rice pudding the same holds true. Somehow the stick rice really does work for a dessert. And when served with a freshly grown ripe mango, there’s no better way to end a meal.
Mango Sticky Rice
1 cup hot cooked sticky rice (soak uncooked glutinous rice in water 6 hours or overnight, then drain and steam in a bamboo basket or over a cotton cloth in a steamer pot with water in the bottom of the pot not touching the steamer basket. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
2 tablespoons white sugar or palm sugar
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 ripe peeled mango
1/2 tablespoon deep fried mung bean seeds (optional – for topping)
1/4 cup pandan leaves cut into 1 inch pieces (optional)
1. Heat the coconut milk, and pandan leaves over medium heat. Bring coconut milk to a simmer, stirring constantly.
2. Add sugar and salt, stir constantly. Remove from heat when dissolved.
3. Pour hot coconut milk over hot sticky rice. Mix until smooth. Let sit for 15-20 minutes. Sticky rice will absorb all the coconut milk and the rice should be a little mushy.
4. Serve topped with deep fried mung bean seeds alongside fresh ripe mango.