Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Studio 5: Mango Sticky Rice

Last year, after 5 years of planning, we had our dream trip to Thailand.  It was incredible in so many ways; the people, the land, the culture and the food.  

But I will admit we were pretty obsessed about Mango Sticky Rice.

It took me awhile to start figuring out how to make this once I got back, but since I have I've made it a dozen times.  I've even made it while camping!

There is nothing ordinary about this dessert.  I love to see the reaction of people eating this for the first time.  It's such a surprising experience; sweet, but a touch salty.  Creamy, yet chewy and the perfect pairing of Coconut & Mango.

The best is, however, how easy it is to make.  5 ingredients & 45 minutes (most of that waiting for the rice to cook).

Let's start with the Rice.  You have to get to an Asian grocery store to buy this (visiting Ocean Mart in SLC is date night for us, love wandering the isles, talking to people and trying to decipher packages and cans and trying out new things).

Primarily you are looking for glutinous rice (this doesn't mean it's rice with gluten, it just means it's extra starchy, which makes it sticky).  Sweet Glutinous rice refers to the grain size (almost like Arborio), short and fat.  This is my favorite.  However, if you can't find Sweet glutinous rice, you can use simply Glutinous rice, which will be longer.

Besides being used for this dessert, Glutinous rice is a staple in South East Asia and used with many savory dishes as well (more on that later).

Most importantly and something I always forget is to soak the rice in water for at least 2 hours, but preferable overnight.  I use 1/4 cup per person.

This contraption is my set-up for steaming the rice.  It must be steamed!  If you boil it, it will wash away the gluten and  your rice will not be sticky.

If you have a proper rice steamer, by all means, use that!  My steamer doesn't have enough holes (and they are too big) for this rice.

Here, I've used a splatte
r guard (used for frying), available walmart and everywhere.  Find a pot with a circumference a little smaller than the splatter guard.  Fill with 3" or so of water and bring to a boil.
Place splatter guard over the pot and spoon the soaked rice in the center, spreading out into an even layer.

Place a bowl on top of the splatter guard/rice to capture the steam.  I like using a plastic bowl like you can see in the picture because it won't get too hot to handle like metal would...but still be careful when lifting; I use a knife to edge it up and a ove-glove (greatest invention!) to remove it.

Cook for 45 minutes.  It should tender, but still have a bit of chew in it (Al dente).  You can always grab a bit to taste if you're not sure and cook a bit longer if you want a more tender rice.

Not all coconut milks are the same.  What we're looking for here is the opposite of what I use when cooking my summer soups (re: last summer's Studio 5 segment) where I wanted a light version.  

This is dessert!  I want all that creaminess (ie: fat).
My favorite brand is Chaokoh, which you can find at Asian grocer as well. You can see here in my side by side comparison the striking difference.  Any brand will do in a pinch, but since you're at the Asian grocers for the glutinous rice anyway, pick up a bunch to keep on hand.

You'll need just one can for 4-5 people.  Place in a pot, bring to a simmer (do not boil).  Add 1/2 sugar and a 1/4 tsp salt.  This stuff is heavenly and would also be great over pancakes or waffles, with bananas, big flake coconut and chopped macadamia nuts...oh and while we're at it, a dollop of whipped cream!

Cook until salt & sugar are dissolved then keep this warm until ready to serve...easy, peasy!

Okay, let's talk about the hardest part of this dessert, preparing the Mango!  It's a delicious fruit, but tricky to get all that sweet, silky fruit out without destroying it in the process.  I've watched a lot of videos online, but I actually prefer mine.  But Before I show you how...let's give you the complete recipe.

Mango Sticky Rice
{serves 4 people)

1 cup glutinous Sticky Rice
1 can coconut Milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large Mango
opt: Toasted Coconut flakes

Soak rice overnight (or min 2 hrs).
Bring 3 inches of water to boil in a large pot.  Place splatter guard over pot and spoon soaked rice in an even layer on it.  Place bowl on top of rice. Steam for 45 minutes.

In the meantime, place coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small pot and heat gently until sugar/salt are dissolved.  Keep warm.

Prepare Mango (see tutorial below) and set aside, covered.

When rice is finished, cut rice into quarters and roll up and place in four dessert bowls.  Pour coconut syrup in each bowl.  It will soak in, so wait a minute and add more if necessary.  I like it submersed in the sauce.  Place chopped Mango on top and sprinkle with toasted coconut on top.  Serve immediately.  It really should be served right away. 


Here's a photo tutorial on how I prepare my Mango.  Click on the image to embiggen.

Mangos have this nasty oblong, sticky pit that can be a pain to work around.  But I breeze through my Mangoes now with this technique.

Hold Mango upright (small end up).  With a sharp filet knife (long and thin), start slicing just off-center until you hit the pit or some resistance.  Slowly move the blade away from the pit and continue cutting downward and around the pit.

Repeat on other side.  You now have 2 beautiful Mango cheeks!  But wait, there's more!

Turn what's left of the mango with the cross section facing you.  Starting at the top, slice around the pit to get the last of the meat off.

Here's the best part...cooks treat!  There's still a little bit of Mango lusciousness left on that pit.  Impossible to cut off, but perfect to nibble on!

The last hurdle is taking the skin off.  The two last bits are easy, just slide your knife along the skin to remove the meat.

The cheeks are a little trickier.  Many tutorials have you hold the cheek in your hand and then run your knife along the length, but just through the meat, stopping at the skin.  Ok, I don't know about you, but I try to avoid running sharp knives anywhere near the palm of my hand, so DON'T. DO. IT. :)  A simpler and safer way to accomplish this is to place the cheek, skin down on a cutting board.  

If you're using a ripe Mango, which goes without saying, your knife will slip through the soft meat and stop at the skin naturally, just have a soft touch.  

Once you've cut your slices (about 1/2" apart), flatten the cheek, almost turning inside out (this breaks the tension of the skin and will make it easier to lay flat).

Holding the cheek flat with one hand, start cutting with the knife on one end. As you move forward with the knife, move your hand back towards the end as you continue cutting through to the other end, releasing all the meat.  At this point you can cut the strips into pieces.

Sometimes, if I haven't flattened the cheek enough, not all the skin will be cut off.  Just turn the cheek around and repeat from the other end.  (of course, this is what happened to me on tv!).

Toasted coconut!  This isn't traditional, but I love it!  It add some nice color and texture to the dessert.  (Traditionally, toasted sesame seeds are used.)  I like using non-sweetened large flake coconut.  Broil for just a few seconds (don't leave!!!!).


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