Glutinous rice cooked until it has just the right bite and made deliciously moist with a sweet, syrupy coconut sauce.  Salt is added to balance out the sweetness. Top that off with succulent bite sized mangos.  All I need now is a beach umbrella and I might be in Thailand. The process of making this dessert is relatively simple but the simplest recipe using the least number of ingredients are often the most difficult to execute correctly.


Cook it too long and the rice becomes mushy and loses the shape of its grain. Undercook it and it is quite inedible. Top that with the task of getting each rice grain evenly cooked and the simple recipe is not quite that simple.

I like to drench mine in velvety coconut sauce.
Mangoes from my mango tree.

I actually have 2 recipes. One for cooking rice the conventional way, that is, steaming. It almost guarantees rice that is cooked perfectly but not everyone has a steamer in the kitchen and steaming also means more washing up.  The alternative is to microwave. I no longer steam the rice as I can get it to cook evenly in my microwave. Either method would work to get the rice evenly cooked as long as you don’t skip this step: soak the rice for 24 hours.

Microwave Thai Mango Sticky Glutinous Rice

Prep: 15 minutes 
Cook: Steaming: 30 to 40 minutes OR
Microwave: 11 minutes 
Inactive: 24 hours soaking time
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 4
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes, but adjust cooking times. 
Make ahead? Yes, up to 2 days. Warm rice or bring to room temperature before serving. 

Ingredients

1 cup glutinous rice
3 cups water to soak rice
1/2  + 1/4 cups water*
4 ripe mangos (preferably Thai)
Coconut sauce 
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 and 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 leaf of pandan (omit if unavailable)
* If using microwave.

Method

These perfectly ripe mangos were being sold at a fruit stand by the iconic Chatuchak market in Bangkok, Thailand. To me, they are ideal for making Thai Mango Sticky Rice at this stage of ripeness. Some might like them less ripe.

Soak the rice for 24 hours
1. Wash the rice with water. Be gentle. Just swirl with fingers, less than 10 seconds. Drain into a sieve to catch any rice. Repeat 3 X.
2. Add 3 cups water to drained rice and set aside 24 hours. Do not skip this step.

Rice just after rinsing and then topped up with water for a 24 hour soak.

 

3. After 24 hours, the rice will look somewhat the same but it would smell a little yeasty. Totally fine.

After 24 hours.

Prepare the coconut sauce
1. Just before you begin cooking rice, prepare the coconut sauce.
2. Add sauce ingredients into a small pot and over a medium heat stir to dissolve sugar. Let it come to a boil for just 15 seconds.
3. Turn off heat but leave on stove to keep warm. It would taste pretty sweet and salty.  That is fine. Unseasoned glutinous rice would be pretty much tasteless so it would need that much sugar and salt.

To Steam Rice
1. You would need a cheese cloth or thin tea towel that will fit the entire base of your steamer tray/basket. Wet this under water and wring out excess water. Spread it out over the cold steamer tray.  This cheese cloth helps to ensure the rice is evenly steamed.
2. Set up your steamer. Fill the bottom pot with water until it more than 1/2 filled.
3. Secure the cheese-cloth- lined steamer tray over the pot of water. Close the pot with its cover.
4. Set on burner and turn heat on medium-high and bring water to a rolling boil. 

5. Do not add the rice yet. Only when water is boiling do you prepare the rice for steaming and not sooner.
6. Drain the rice into a sieve. Place it under running water for ~1 minutes. Do not stir. Rice would be rather brittle at this stage. Be gentle and do not over rinse.
7. As you quickly drain most of the water, catch any remaining drips of water from the rice by placing a bowl under the colander. You will need that water.
8. Open steamer cover and with a spoon, distribute rice with whatever water that has collected into the bowl, on to the cheesecloth. Replace cover.
9. It usually takes 30 to 40 minutes for the rice to cook. The rice should have a slight bite to it but taste cooked.
10. If it needs longer cooking, steam and check every 5 minutes. Cooking time varies according to how new or old your rice is. You might be tempted to add more water if it is still uncooked at the 30 minute mark. I would go really slowly with this. Add too much and you could have mushy rice. Add 1 to 2 Tablespoons at a time if you must. This is why you must (1) only prepare the rice when the water is boiling and (2) add the water that had collected in the bowl.
11. Once rice is cooked, uncover and remove steaming tray.
12. Proceed to the next step under ‘Assembly’.

Microwaving the rice
1. Have ready, a microwave proof 9″ (23cm) vessel with a 1.5″(4cm) depth or something similar that would fit in your microwave.
2. Also have a spoon/spatula and a bowl with water ready.  Dip your spoon/spatula in the water to prevent rice from sticking to it.
3. Rinse out the vessel and do not dry it. Set aside.
4. Drain the rice into a sieve. Place it under running water for ~1 minutes. Do not stir. Rice would be rather brittle at this stage. Be gentle and do not over rinse.
5. Put the drained rice into the vessel.
6. Total microwave time on high power is (2+2+2+2+2+1) minutes  = 11 minutes. Instructions follows:

0 to 2 minutes
1. Working from the circumference inwards, drizzle 1/2 cup water over rice.
2. Microwave on high 2 minutes.

2-minute mark. Rice looks uncooked.

2-minute mark
1. Remove from oven.
2. Working gently, fold outer ring of rice into the centre and pull rice out from the bottom centre to the outer edge. It should take you no longer than 30 seconds.
3. Do not pack rice down. This process helps to ensure evenly cooked rice.
4. Microwave again on high 2 minutes.

4-minute mark. Doesn’t look too raw now.

4-minute mark 
1. Remove from oven.
2. Same as above, working gently, fold outer ring of rice into the centre and pull rice out from the bottom centre to the outer edge. It should take you no longer than 30 seconds.
4. Do not pack rice down.
5. Drizzle 1/4 cup water starting from the circumference and working to the centre.
6. Microwave again on high 2 minutes.

6-minute mark. Looks a little cooked.

 

6-minute mark
1. Remove from microwave.
2. Same as above, working gently, fold outer ring of rice into the centre and pull rice out from the bottom centre to the outer edge. It should take you no longer than 30 seconds.
3. Do not pack rice down.
4. Do not add water.
5. Microwave again on high 2 minutes.

8-minute mark. Rice grains are beginning to look more opaque.

8-minute mark
1. Open microwave door.
2. Do not stir.
3. Rotate vessel from to back.
4. Microwave on high 2 minutes.

10-minute mark. Rice grains are almost cooked.

10-minute mark
1. As the power on each microwave is different, you should check if the rice is cooked at this stage. Taste. The rice should not taste raw but still have a bite to it. If it is still needs more cooking time, do not stir, rotate vessel front to back and return to microwave.
2. Microwave on high 1 minute.

11-minute mark
1. Remove vessel from microwave.
2. Do not stir. Rice should be cooked at this stage. If not, microwave and check every 1 minute, remember to rotate the vessel front to back each time.
3. If you think it looks too dry, add just 2 tablespoons of water at a time.

Assembling
1. Whichever cooking method, you choose, as soon as rice is cooked, transfer to a lightly oiled container that comes with a lid. Do not stir.
2. The coconut sauce must be between hot to warm when you add it into the rice.
3. Only add 1/3 to 1/2 of sauce and slash through rice to break lumps and fold in quickly. 10 seconds maximum. Do not add all of the sauce as the rice would be overly sweet and would turn mushy. Reserve the rest of the sauce for guests to help themselves.
4. Cover rice with the lid and set aside 20 – 30 minutes.
5. Start preparing your mangos at this stage for serving.
6. After leaving the rice alone for 20 – 30 minutes, remove lid, slash through rice to break up lumps and fold gently.
7. For 1 serving, I would go with 1/2 cup of rice and 1/2 – 1 mango. Drizzle 2 or more tablespoons of coconut sauce. A small jug of sauce can be placed within arm’s length for those who have a sweeter tooth.

Tips

Here are 2 ways to use up any leftover mangos:

(1) Dim Sum Mango Pudding
It is easier to prepare and taste so distinctively of mangos! This is my favourite way to eat mangos.

(2) Mango Salad With Salmon And Scallops Ceviche
This is a refreshing and light salad and quite luxurious for a dinner party.

WHAT’S COMING UP NEXT?

I had loaves and loaves of Kulich, the Russian Easter Bread in the house. It is a deliciously rich fruit and almond studded loaf and a challenge to bake. A challenge primarily because I was maniacal about baking the tallest and largest cylindrical loaf possible, a size that most would not attempt to bake. Is it any wonder why Kulichi are baked only once a year? It is a lot of work but you would be rewarded with a very, very impressive loaf of bread.

Leftover Kulichi makes the best possible Bread And Butter Pudding. So good, that even though I had Kulichi coming out of my ears just two weeks ago, I still baked another batch of Kulichi recently so that I could have some to make Bread And Butter Pudding!

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