11 July 2013

The Sticky Rice Saga

The Sticky Rice Saga

In winter 2012, my aunt visited a friend of hers who is Thai. The friend made sticky rice for dessert and served it with bananas. My aunt and I tried recreating it with sushi rice and then with genuine Thai sticky rice. By the end of our experimentations, we had about ten pounds of Thai sticky rice in the house and no satisfactory results from the recipes we had.

One of the crucial issues was sweetness: the onerecipe on which I relied had a teensy amount of sugar in it, not sweet enough for the American palate. This week’s foodie call theme was Asian and I wanted to play to my strengths: dessert. I researched a few fruit soup desserts, but the Arlington store doesn’t carry tapioca balls. What’s a Q to do? Re-do!

I made quick sticky rice. I learned some valuable lessons about the heat of a propane burner and how coconut sugar cooks. Yeah, I scorched it because I cooked it with the sugar instead of cooking the rice first, then adding the sugar. It gave some parts of the pudding a coffee note, and some a smoky note. By this point I have eaten too much of it to care. Here is my scaled-down recipe.

Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 cup rice (long or short grain; I would use brown because I dislike white rice. I used medium grain Calrose rice in the demo because it cooks quickly), do not rinse
1 16-ounce can lite coconut milk (I use lite because I don’t think it makes a difference taste-wise)
water to rinse out the can (about 2 cups)
1/2 to 1 cup coconut sugar (to your sweetness preference)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 16-ounce bag frozen mango chunks OR 2 cups fresh mango in 1-inch cubes
1 cup dried mango, chopped into 1/4-inch strips (try to find unsweetened)

In a large saucepan, toast the coconut shreds over medium heat. Then transfer the shreds to a bowl and set aside.

In the same saucepan, bring the rice, coconut milk, and water to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook until all the water is absorbed. Stir frequently to release the rice’s starch and make it sticky. How long it takes depends on the kind of rice you chose; plan for 30 minutes to an hour of cooking. When the liquid is mostly absorbed, add the coconut sugar and stir to dissolve. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla. 

Fold in the fresh/frozen mango chunks and the dried mango (the frozen ones cool it down quickly, which is a good trick).  Top with toasted coconut. Serve in your vessel of choice.

Note the caramel colour of the coconut sugar.

While far from traditional, coconut and mango make a refreshing combination for a  summer dessert. Serve chilled.

And chill out!
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