Monday, February 11, 2013

Thai Sticky Rice with Mango

This post is to distract you from the fact that I've posted a crazy number of vacation pics lately.  The days of making people watch your vacation videos has been replaced by Facebook, Instagram and blogging.  Woohoo?

If you are to be distracted though, what better way than one of the absolute best desserts in the world? Thai sticky rice and mango is a super duper popular Thai dessert that can be found just about anywhere in Thailand.  

Exhibit A:

This picture is one of a dozen I took because I ate this a lot.  A lot. A lot. A lot. I generally spend every trip to Thailand spending exorbitant amounts of time seeking this treat out.  This baffles even me because it's really one of the easiest desserts to make.  No baking skills required here...if you can boil anything, you can make this. 

The Thai name for this dish is Khao Niew Mamuang.  I share this only because this is one of the few Thai words or phrases I know.  Since Thai was my first language, I like to revel in my ability to speak one or two words whenever I can.  

You can usually find this dessert in most Thai restaurants here in the US during mango season. In Thailand, the whole year seems to be mango season--the people are much happier there than we are based solely on this fact. Once you see how easy it is to make at home though, you won't need to wait until you go out for Thai to enjoy this.  

Step A: buy sweet rice.  This is your Thai glutinous rice.  My mom and most Thai people I know here in the US call it sweet rice but asian grocers will know what you are talking about if you ask for sticky rice.  The bags usually have a combination of sweet rice and glutinous rice on the label.  Clarification though, the rice is not actually sweet.  

Step B: Soak rice. Pour rice into a medium sized bowl and cover completely with water by a couple of inches.   Let soak 2-4 hours or overnight. 

Gather your other ingredients: 1 can of coconut milk (Chaokoh is thicker and creamier and my favorite brand by far) 1-2 ripe mangoes, palm sugar and salt. 

Palm sugar is awesome in sweet form.  It's made from the coconut palm tree and wikipedia describes it as "The taste of pure coconut palm sugar resembles that of brown sugar, yet with more rounded caramel and butterscotch notes, without the metallic ending flavor that brown sugar has. It has a rich flavor." Yes seriously. I can't make that stuff up.

Please don't forget or omit the salt.  This treat always has a warm slightly salty balance to the sweet coconut flavor when you eat it in Thailand. Some Thai restaurants leave the salt out...don't be like them.  Trust me on this...that 1/4-1/2 tsp of salt makes all of the difference. 

Step C: To prepare the rice you'll need to boil water.  I told you it was as easy as boiling.  I use a traditional Thai sweet rice cooker that looks like the one below.  You can pick one up for $10 at a Thai market if you eat a lot of sweet rice.  If not, you can also wrap the rice in cheesecloth and steam it or put it in a mesh strainer over water, cover tightly and steam it that way.  Any way you can steam it, you can cook it.  

Steam for 15-20 minutes. 

Step D: While the rice is steaming prepare coconut syrup by combining coconut milk, palm sugar and salt in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved and coconut milk is hot --you don't want the coconut milk to reduce though. If you are using the palm sugar cakes, it dissolves better if you smash or grate it.   

Scoop the cooked sweet rice into a bowl and pour about 1/2 of the coconut milk over the rice.  Stir well and let sit for 5 minutes while you peel and dice mangos. 

To serve, scoop up some rice and top with mangos.  Looks pretty good already right?  But wait. 

Spoon some of the remaining coconut syrup right over the top.  You can be stingy or generous depending upon how much you love sweet coconut syrup. 

Voila, c'est fini -- It's really that simple.  If however, you find that the original serving dish makes too dark of a photo and you want to switch up the plates for the final photo, well go ahead and do that too.  That's completely normal I say. 

Thai Sticky Rice and Mango

1 cup Thai sweet rice
1-2 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can coconut milk
1 palm sugar cake (or 4 tbsp brown sugar)
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
water (for boiling or steaming the rice)
  1. Soak the rice in about 2 cups water  for 2-4 hours or overnight
  2. Drain the rice and pour into a bamboo steamer or cheesecloth.  Steam for 15-20 minutes.
  3. To make the sauce, heat the can of coconut milk, sugar and 1/4 salt over medium-low heat, stirring until dissolve.
  4. Taste the sauce for salt and add additional 1/4 tsp if desired. 
  5. Scoop cooked rice into serving bowl and pour about 1/2 of coconut syrup over rice.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes while you peel and slice mangos. 
  6. To assemble, place a few mounds of sticky rice on each serving dish. Top with slices of mango, and drizzle coconut syrup over the top. Serve immediately.


Sophia said...

This is one of my favorite foods in the world! I love the fresh mango with the sweet coconut, yum, yum, yum. I'd heard it was easy to make but never really thought about it yet you make it look super easy. I'm off to buy sticky rice!

Kara said...

I love sticky rice with mangoes or with dinner or with anything. Yummy!

Renee said...

I ate so much of this when I was in Thailand. I couldn't deal with the spicy food and meat there but I loved this and it was kind of like a meal!

June said...

We loved this dish when we were in Thailand and I didn't realize it was so easy to make. Looks like something I could throw together pretty easily.
Thank you.

Robyn M said...

I have been on a mango kick lately, and love sticky rice, so I definitely need to make this soon. Also, re: Chaokoh coconut milk, it is also the best brand I have found to make coconut milk ice cream. Most other brands crystallize a bit strangely when frozen, and Chaokoh stays nice and creamy.

Mary said...

Coconut milk ice cream? That is something I think I'm going to be trying this summer...sounds divine!

Mary said...

You are welcome and yes, easiest dessert ever!

Emma Jane said...

This looks so delicious. It is one of my favorite desserts ever. We ate it alot too when we were in Thailand.

Jane said...

Looks sooooooooo good!

Jenny said...

This is one of my favorite foods. We've made it before but the recipe didn't call for salt. I think that may have been exactly what was missing from the kind I remembered in my head.

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