Sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice, sweet rice, and waxy rice is grown in most Southeast Asian countries and is a part of the traditional cuisine. No important occasion is complete without it. In China, glutinous rice has been grown for at least 2,000 years, and was also used in the construction of Great Wall of China. It is unlike other rice varieties grown in Asia, i.e., the grains stick to each other at a higher degree than other rice grains. Glutinous rice does not contain gluten, but a high level of amylopectin, a polymer of glucose which is responsible for its sticky appearance and texture.
Ways to Prepare Sticky or Glutinous Rice
One can cook this rice in a steamer, a microwave, or a rice cooker. Although steaming is a traditional way of cooking the rice, a microwave will save you quite a bit of effort, and with a rice cooker, you can simply plug it in and serve the rice as per your timing. Soak the rice at least for an hour before you begin cooking. The grains have a tough exterior; soaking will soften it up, and make its texture sticky.
Steaming: Take a steamer, pour water in it, and place the divider in place. Spoon the steam rice on the divider, and cover the lid. The heat should be on medium. Let the rice cook in the steamer for 20-25 minutes. Take the steamer off the flame, let it stand for 5 minutes and then remove the rice.
Rice Cooker: Add the rice in the cooker along with water (1 cup rice with 1¼ cups of water). Plug and turn on the rice cooker for approximately 15-20 minutes. Once it gets switched off, let the rice stand in the cooker to soften with the steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and stir; serve hot.
Microwave: In a microwave-safe dish, add rice and water (½ cup rice and ¾ cup water). Cover the bowl, and cook on high for 3 minutes. Stir it once, and again cook on high for 2 more minutes. In most cases the rice gets cooked in this much time, but given the variations of heat levels in each microwave, one may need to cook the rice for a few minutes more. Cooked rice should appear translucent.
Preparing Glutinous Rice Balls
Glutinous rice balls, also known as tangyuan, are easy to make, and have fillings unique to each Oriental country. Eaten round the year and during festivals, they can be flavored with interesting fillings or rolled in toppings. To make them, keep the rice cooked and ready. While cooking the rice specifically for making the balls, add a little bit more water to it than usual. Prepare the filling and set aside.
Take a tablespoon of warm rice (warm rice sticks better than cold rice) in your hands, and shape it into a ball. Using a finger, dent a hole in the rice ball, add the filling, and round up the ball again. The filling can be sweet or can be made spicy with vegetables or meat. If you do not prefer to have a filling in the rice ball, roll them with crushed peanuts or sesame seeds.
Sticky Rice Dessert Recipe
- Ripe yellow mangoes, 2
- Glutinous rice (cooked), 1 cup
- Coconut cream, 1 cup
- Sugar, ¼ cup
- Salt, a pinch