Thursday, September 16, 2010

Jacket optional, Thai required: Mango Sticky Rice

After a memorable dinner with our great foodie friends (the same friends who made the great collard green and baked beans on our Southern-friend theme dinner, I am quite a different person. 

The cuisine theme (Thai) was previously fairly unfamiliar to me but I was given a great recipe to work from for the Nam Tok I was assigned to make.  The cooking experience and the enjoyment of all of the great dishes there (including this one for Mango Sticky Rice) have broadened my horizons and guaranteed that I will have powerful, spontaneous, episodic cravings of some great versions of southeast Asian cuisine for a very long time.

This recipe for Mango Sticky Rice comes from our friend Katie.  To say it was a life-changing experience would be only a slight exaggeration.  Thanks Katie.

1 1/2 cups Thai sticky rice (khao niao)
1 can (19 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 mangoes, peeled and sliced

The Method
In a large bowl, combine the rice and enough water to cover by 2-inches. Soak for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours. Drain.

Inside a wok or steaming pot, place a bamboo steamer and line the steamer with parchment paper/thin cloth. Add enough water to come up just below the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and steam until rice is tender—about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer the rice to a bowl.

Mix the coconut milk, sugar and salt in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Pour over the rice (but reserve about one third of the sauce to be able to drizzle over the mango when you serve), mix well, cover and set aside until liquid is absorbed into the rice, about 30 minutes.  Dish rice into serving bowls, add a few slices of mango to each bowl and drizzle a bit of reserved sauce over each dish. 

Food for Thought
It's like if a fresh peach pie had been born in Bangkok instead of Georgia.  It was great!

As a final note, when using produce in a recipe, it seems fairly obvious to state that you should use good stuff.  That said, it is especially important in a recipe such as this where the produce goes in straight - with little or no processing, subjection to heat, integration with other ingredients, etc.  Bottom line, if you can't find good stuff for your given recipe, make a substitution if possible (the red cabbages are lousy but the green cabbages look great) or just wait.  The mangos used in this recipe came from Bountiful Baskets and they were excellent.  We've heard a lot of good things about them so I suppose we'll have to check them out.

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