03 June 2012

Thai Sticky Rice

Last summer, Nathan and I took a 2-week trip to Thailand to help our dear friends celebrate their wedding. We walked all over and tried new foods and ordered by pointing at market vendors. We ate fried chicken with sweet chili sauce, crispy cucumber slices and sticky rice.
Thai Glutinous Rice
Last night I cooked up some thai sticky rice to go with some sous vide pork belly that Nathan left for me.  Here's how it goes:       Start with thai glutenous rice.  You will see it called "Sweet Rice", but honestly I have no idea why. It doesn't taste sweet.  You can get this at an Asian market for about the same price as any other rice, and I think we picked ours up at Park to Shop in Cleveland's asiatown, but any market will do. (It might be hard to find this at a mainstream grocery, I've seen some Japanese short-grain sticky rice for sushi, etc., but this is different. 
Rice drained after soaking
Next you want to wash the rice. Add some rice to a bowl with cold water, swish it around with your hands until the water is cloudy, and carefully pour the water out. Do this 3 times.  Finish by adding plenty of cool water to the bowl and set a timer for 45-60 minutes to let your rice soak. After the hour of soaking, carefully pour out the water.  This rice looks sort of chalky-white-opaque, rather than an almost translucent cream color of other rices.

Set up a steamer basket on the stove over boiling water. There are more traditional bamboo steamer baskets available at different asian markets that sit over a pot of boiling water and can be used for rice or steamed dumplings, but to be honest I've never actually used one.  For our purposes, a metal steamer that fits in a pot works just fine. (I've also read a technique where a splatter screen is set over the top of a frying pan with boiling water, then a metal bowl set upside down on the screen for steaming.)  Really, any old thing will do.

Soaked rice spread in the steamer
Once the water for the steamer is boiling, dump the rice into the steamer and spread it into an even level and put a lid on, set a timer for 15 minutes.

I was really concerned at first that the rice was going to fall all the way through the holes and into the water boiling below. Now that I've made this twice, the fear is completely gone. I haven't had a single grain fall through. Soaking helps the rice sort of stick together (like wet sand).

Flipping the rice
Once the timer goes off, the rice needs to be turned over. I've used a non-stick silicon spatula in the past with great success. This time, I used a wooden spoon and a metal spatula to just lift under the clump of rice and flip it like a pancake. You won't be able to get all of it flipped perfectly but... well, whatever. Do your best.

Once the rice is flipped, put the lid back on and set the timer for another 10 minutes. You'll want to make sure that that you don't run out of water in your steamer.

When the timer goes off, you're done! Rice is best pushed into a mold to make a shape, or served with steamed bok choy and sous vide pork belly.

My dinner is served!

 Ok, these instructions made it seem really complicated.  Here's a summary:
                1. Rinse the rice in cool water two or three times
                2. Soak the rice in cool water for an hour
                3. Put the rice in a steamer for 15 minutes
                4. Flip the rice over
                5. Steam for 10 more minutes
                6. Eat it with pork belly and bok choy


  1. I'm lazy and cook my glutinous rice in a rice cooker. Usually, I wash and soak it as you did, and then drain the soaking water and add fresh water to just above the level of the rice. Then I push the button to cook. It comes out fairly well, and is easier for me to do than pay attention to how long it is cooking on the stove.

  2. Nice! I always enjoy a lazy way to enjoy good food. (Or, for that matter, an overly complicated and intricate way!)

    I haven't tried to cook this in the rice cooker, but my understanding from discussing it with a few friends and reading the internet (where everything one reads is true) is that the success of a rice cooker is highly dependent based on your particular machine. I am glad that you have one that works.

    Also, my first anonymous comment? My fame is spreading!

    1. oops. didn't mean to be anonymous. that was me. Our rice cooker is the simplest zoshirushi, but Ive done it in my cheap old rice cooker as well.

    2. Ah, good to know.
      Honestly, at this point even knowing that I can make it in my rice cooker I'll probably still steam it. Because I think it's cool.

  3. Omw that looks complicated. Complicatedly delicious.

    1. Not complicated! Wash, soak, steam, eat!!
      Worth it.

  4. I'm so jealous of your dinners this past weekend! I mostly ate junk including a sprint through the north market at closing that yielded ice cream, a chicken leg, and a sausage for dinner.

    1. Jealous is right! I'm jealous of our dinner tonight.... yum, Muslim Fried Chicken!!