Thailand is one of those countries that I can't stop coming back to. I've traveled to many countries all over South East Asia, but Thailand always pulls me back in. What is it? If I had to put words to a feeling, I would say the hospitality and the food! (the FOOD!). Mango Sticky Rice is probably one of the most popular Thai desserts, and for good reason - it is delicious! Here is my recipe that I learned while taking cooking classes in Chiang Mai in the North of Thailand.
A staple of Thai cuisine is fresh coconut milk to make their array of curries, and by fresh I mean super fresh! You can see it being grated all throughout the day. To make milk or cream, the fresh coconut is soaked in boiling water and then squeezed to extract all of the rich coconut fat.
One of my favorite dishes that benefits from this rich coconut cream is Mango with Sticky Rice - sweet sticky rice steamed until perfection and soaked in sweet and salty coconut milk until it absorbs it through and through. It is served with freshly sliced mango and extra coconut cream. You will drool and since I want you to taste this too, you can make it at home with the recipe below!
I don't even know if I can explain in words how incredible this dish is that I'm presenting to you today. Really. I fear that no matter what I say, all you will see is rice and a mango. This is the most incredible thing ever and I learned how to make it during a cooking course in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand from a lovely Thai lady named Nancy. This rice is steamed to chewy perfection and then soaked in a sweet and salty thick coconut cream. Can you wrap your head around it?
Salt is key. Salt and coconut is insanity. So freakin' good. And then there's palm sugar which is made from the sap of coconut palm trees. It is ridiculous. It has an almost tangy acidity to it and the closest substitute I can think of is honey. But please... seek out palm sugar. You can find it at Asian grocery stores and it is sold in hard puck form. It has a light brown color. You will be happy you did.
I remember the first time I tried this and I swear I saw stars. It is just so simple but so spectacular. I think that's what makes it great - you would never think it could carry that much flavor. First the sticky rice needs to be soaked in water overnight. You'll notice that the grains will be translucent when they are ready. This lets them take in some water so that they steam evenly.
HOW TO MAKE STICKY RICE FOR MANGO STICKY RICE RECIPE
Sticky rice (or glutinous rice) is not the same rice that the Japanese use to make sushi. It is not going to be too sticky and as wet as sushi rice. No. This rice will be so individual and unique.
That's because we're steaming it. Steaming the rice is such a cool method. It makes every grain cook individually so that they are distinct but not sticky on their surfaces.
This is the tricky part. Do not over cook the rice! You will still need to soak it in warm coconut milk so it will continue to cook. If it is over-steamed, it will be mushy so just watch it carefully. Twenty minutes should do the trick.
You can make your own steamer at home like this. Just fill a pot with about and inch of water and put your rice in a sieve over the pot. Now put the lid on, bring the water to a boil and steam away.
In the meantime, heat the coconut milk, palm sugar and a generous amount of salt in a saucepan. Let it come to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for just a minute or two. Don't reduce it too much or the coconut milk will separate.
Now add the steamed rice, remove from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. During this time the rice will soak up all of that outstanding sweet, tangy and salt coconut cream. Wow. I wish I could be rice right now.
Another HUGELY important thing is to have the most perfectly ripe, sweet Ataulfo mangoes. These are the kidney shaped ones - not the red and green mangoes from Mexico. These Ataulfos are much silkier and far less stringy or fibrous.
You know they're ripe when they are gorgeously orange all around, their skin is just slightly wrinkly and they give quite a bit when you press on it. Oh! Make sure you put some aside for pouring on top. That's the best. This will change you.
Mango Sticky Rice Recipe
- 1 cup sweet sticky rice
- 1 cup 237ml coconut milk
- ⅓ cup 65g granulated sugar
- 1 oz 28g grated coconut palm sugar (or replace with an equal amount of regular sugar)
- 1 tablespoon 15ml honey optional
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt plus extra for the sauce
- 2 ripe Ataulfo mangos peeled, removed from the pit and sliced
- ½ teaspoon rice flour for the sauce
- Rinse the sticky rice several times and then soak rice overnight in cold water, about 8-10 hours.
- Cook the sticky rice. Drain the soaked rice and place it in a strainer over a pot with a couple of inches of boiling water (see images in the article above). Cover and steam for about 20 minutes until translucent and cooked through. It will be firm and chewy but not mushy. Do not over-cook it at this point because it will continue to cook once you add it to the hot coconut milk mixture.
- Meanwhile make the coconut milk mixture. The sauce should be ready before the rice because you will need to immediately add the hot coconut sauce to the hot sticky rice. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, granulated sugar, palm sugar (if you have it), honey and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup of this mixture to serve as a sauce for later.
- Place the just cooked hot sticky rice in a shallow 8-inch baking dish or pie dish. Pour the hot coconut milk mixture over the rice and toss it gently just to ensure all the rice comes into contact with the milk but do not stir it or it will become mushy. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and then cover with a lid or a plate and sed aside to rest for 40 minutes, covered, without stirring. The rice will absorb the coconut milk as it sits. Again, do not stir or it will get mushy.
- Make the thickened coconut sauce. Add a pinch more salt and rice flour to the saucepan with the reserved sauce (it should be a bit saltier than the sticky rice). Put the heat back on and bring it to a simmer so it thickens up. Let it cool.
- When ready to serve, slice up the mango and serve the sticky rice with sliced ripe mango and extra coconut milk sauce on top. It is SO delicious!