Thai green sticky rice (Khao Niao Kaew)

Since I've been cooking at home a lot, I realized I was leaning more and more towards Asian cuisine. It's something I can't stop. I simply love cooking anything Asian - even the spicy dishes I can't eat! I'm not sure if I just have the kind of personality that is bound to get along well with Asian culture. Perhaps it has something to do with our family living in Thailand for many years.

This is one of those dishes that brings back memories. I ended up going to a Thai restaurant with my sister and we ordered this desert. It got us pointing and giggling and (very quietly) screaming in delight. We totally knew this flavour!! The rice, pandan and coconut milk just scream Thailand all over. So I made it again at home.

Thai green sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียวแก้ว)

1 cups Thai glutinous rice
1-2 tablespoons pandan extract or essence
1/2-1 cup coconut milk*
1-2 tablespoons sugar (optional)

1. Soak the rice with the pandan extract and roughly 2 cups of water overnight or for at least 8-12 hours. Leave at room temperature, covered and make sure there is enough water to keep the rice submerged.
2. After soaking, place the rice in a steamer and turn the heat on. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat and leave to steam for roughly 15 minutes.
3. After 15 minutes, pour the coconut milk with the sugar over the rice. Continue to steam for another 10-15 minutes until the rice is properly cooked. Turn off the heat and leave the rice in the steamer to cool for 5 minutes.
4. Serve with mango, fresh coconut slices and/or a peanut & sesame topping (see below).

* This depends on your cooking method (see below), the quality of the rice and your own personal preferences.

Surprisingly I've seen so many different ways to cook this rice. Some people steam the sticky rice, and then add the coconut milk during the steaming process. That's what I did in the recipe. Some recipes steam the rice and then cook the rice with coconut milk in a pan afterwards. I've seen a recipe with the reverse process as well: cook the rice with coconut milk until everything is absorbed and then steam the rice until done. Also, I've seen several recipes skipping the steaming altogether. Due to my lack of steamers at the moment, I've tried this (with a Greek rice) and still loved it just as much. Don't go easy on the coconut milk though. Conclusion: you can easily make this recipe in whatever way you want. With or without steamer.

Peanut & sesame topping

1 tablespoon peanuts
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons dried shredded coconut
1-2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Chop the peanuts into small pieces.
2. Roast the peanuts and sesame in a pan on medium to high heat and stir frequently.
3. Once the sesame seeds start to brown, add the coconut.
4. Continue stirring until everything is roasted. Lower the heat if necessary and watch closely as the roasting will go quite fast near the end. Especially the sesame seeds are quite sensitive to the heat and can burn very easily, so take off the fire as soon as they turn brown.
5. Once cooled stir in the sugar and salt and sprinkle over the rice.

Despite calling it a Thai green sticky rice, this seems to be a very common Vietnamese dish as well. In Vietnam it's called Xôi Lá Dứa. I think the difference is the Thai version is most often served with mango and without the pandan (called Khao Niao Ma Muang), whereas the Vietnamese version more often comes with the peanut and sesame topping. There is also a different Thai version of this dish I found which is a whole lot stickier and comes in balls or cupcake shapes. I think I'll need to make this dish a whole lot more often, just to try every single version of it!

I hope you enjoy!