For Southeast Asian countries, sticky rice is the staple dish. It can be eaten as a complement to viands with a lot of sauce, or it can be served as a dessert. But there is more to sticky rice than it’s stickiness. In this article, you’ll get to read more about it, the science behind it, some facts, and the best and easiest way to cook it.
What is Sticky Rice?
Formally known as glutinous rice, sticky rice has no gluten. Yes, it is gluten-free and very safe for those who are allergic to gluten. It’s only called as such because it exhibits glue-like properties.
Unlike normal white rice, the grains of sticky rice are much shorter. Sticky rice is a different kind of rice although there are “mixed breeds” where the rice itself is a mix of both sticky and common white rice. However, the real glutinous rice is in no way related to white rice as sticky rice has its own molecular makeup.
What makes sticky rice unique is its molecular components. Instead of having both amylose and amylopectin, the two components that makeup starch, it only has amylopectin. Amylopectin is the component responsible for giving sticky rice its sticky characteristic. When hot water touches the grains of the sticky rice, the amylopectin molecules separate making the rice itself sticky.
Some Facts About Sticky Rice
Aside from its molecular makeup, there are so many interesting things about glutinous rice. Here are a few of those facts that would make you want to try it yourself!
It is the Staple Food of Laos
Contrary to what some people know, sticky rice is not the staple food of Thailand. In fact, the only place in Thailand that consumes a lot of sticky rice is in Northern Thailand. On the other hand, Laos consumes a lot of it, making it an automatic component of most dishes.
It is also used as a utensil for the people in Laos. Because it’s sticky, the rice can be shaped to a spoon (mostly follows the shape of your palm).
It is Heavier Than White Rice
Because of its starch and water content, sticky rice is heavier on the stomach than normal white rice. This is why sticky rice is often given as a donation to Buddhist monks who eat only one meal a day. You would also feel fuller and it will take you a longer time before you feel hungry again.
How Do You Prepare Sticky Rice?
There are different ways to make sticky rice. For traditional countries in the Southeast Asian region, sticky rice is mostly prepared by steaming the grains. Because it doesn’t need a lot of water, some households and groups prefer cooking sticky rice through steam only. However, there is a much easier and modern approach – using the rice cooker.
Just because it makes use of a rice cooker doesn’t mean that the sticky rice loses its flavor. In fact, you can make as good as steamed sticky rice when you cook it in a rice cooker. To know how to make the perfect and the most delicious sticky rice, follow the steps below.
1. Make the Right Proportions
Some people prefer cleaning all the rice before scooping it, but if you aren’t going to eat a lot, then you might as well just clean the amount you can eat. (Sticky rice can be filling) The right proportion is 3:2, meaning, three cups of sticky rice requires two cups of water, but don’t put the water yet.
2. Clean the Rice
Now that you have your rice, you can start cleaning it. However, this step can be optional because cleaning the rice removes some of its nutrients and depending on where you bought your rice, it wouldn’t be so dirty. Say, for example, you bought rice in Europe. You don’t have to clean twice or thrice because the sticky rice would be cleaner than usual. Nonetheless, if you prefer cleaning it to be sure that there are fewer bacteria in it, you are free to do so.
Cleaning sticky rice is easy – and similar to how you clean white rice. All you have to do is to scoop some rice and rinse it with water by rubbing it in your palms. Imagine holding a stress ball only you rub it against two palms. Just repeat the process for the rest.
3. Let it Stand
When it’s clean, you can now add the water and stir it with the rice. Let it stand for 30 minutes to an hour. The reason why you’re doing this is that sticky rice has a hard outer shell so you need to soften it first so it will taste better and has a softer texture to it. The longer you soak the rice, the better it would taste.
4. Start Cooking
After you’ve let the rice stand, you can now start cooking it. To add more flavor, you can put half a teaspoon of salt into the rice cooker. Mix it around and then turn on your rice cooker. After the rice cooker cooks the rice or an alarm goes off, let the rice sit for five minutes before you take it out. This makes the rice stickier.
The longer sticky rice sits, the stickier and more tasteful it gets. So if you plan to eat it today, you can start prepping your rice a day before. The proper way to store it is by putting it in a sealed container and placing it in the refrigerator. Just make sure that you consume this within two days so it tastes good and doesn’t spoil.
Sticky rice can be used in a lot of recipes, not only as a complement of viands. Another great thing about this is that you can adjust the stickiness of the rice – you can let it soak for a shorter time or you can choose to not make it stand at all before turning on your rice cooker. You can also adjust the ratio of rice and water to 2:1.
- How to Make Perfect Sticky Rice Using a Rice Cooker – Instructables
- How Rice Cookers Work – HowStuffWorks