Sticky rice or glutinous rice is standard fare in Northern Thailand and Laos. The rice is thicker than "regular" steamed rice and the sticky texture allows it to be rolled into golf ball sized patties and eaten with the (right) hand. Served with most meals, this rice is scrumptious and filling . Southern Thai cuisine usually serves this rice with condensed (or coconut) milk (rolled in banana leaves) or with mangos as a dessert.

When eating a meal it is customary to take the rice out of the bamboo basket it is served in, roll it into a ball and smoosh your "meat", vegetables and sauce into the rice. You don't need chopsticks or silverware, just don't use your left hand. Sticky rice is a tasty comfort food that becomes quite addicting especially if you have chili sauce to dip it in.

When cooking Sticky rice it isn't recommended that you prepare this rice in a rice cooker or steamer. The following steps should do the trick:

  • First, you need Thai Sticky Rice, not the Japanese rice used in Sushi. Some brands available in the U.S. are; Peacock Extra-Super Quality and Ko-Ko Thai Sweet Rice.
  • Then, rinse 2-3 times and soak the rice in a pan with plenty of water for 4-12 hours. (Like beans, the longer they soak, the less time it takes to cook).
  • Drain and rinse again until the water is clear and place in a bamboo steamer. (Steamer resembles a basket).
  • Place steamer over a metal pan of boiling water (don't let the bamboo touch the water...), and cover rice with a lid (any lid will do). Note: Some people also wrap the rice in a cheesecloth or add a little boiling water to the rice to speed cooking, though I don't.
  • Steam for 30-45 minutes or until rice is tender.

Like all cooking, it takes a bit of practice to get it just right. Additionally, I think you can even purchase special sticky rice steamers, they look like a spittoon.

Perfect recipe, RACECAR! The unwary shopper should know that sticky rice is often labelled sweet rice or glutinous rice on the package.

The special sticky rice steamers come in several sizes and shapes, but the most common are large cones woven out of bamboo. (Cones have the advantage of fitting into any size pot.) Thai people are also quite adamant that you're supposed to use a special tall pot to steam your sticky rice, but it's actually not as essential as they claim. Basically, as my good colleague says, you just want to make sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the rice as its steaming.

I also wanted to relate how once, eating with a family in Fang, Thailand (very small village north of Chiang Mai), someone noticed that I was eating our sticky-rice based meal only with my right hand. She chuckled and advised me (in her thick northern accent which my Bangkok-trained ears had trouble deciphering) that I should use both hands or I wouldn't get enough food! So I did. It was more convenient, I must admit. But I wouldn't do this without being invited, for I'd heard the "right hand only" stories as well.

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