It’s been ages, I know, but I had legit reasons. For one, I was struggling with a cold and horrible congestion for a couple months and when you can’t smell and taste anything half the time it’s pretty problematic in the kitchen. Good god, it felt like an eternity.
I went to see a doctor. He ordered a paranasal CT scan for me and turns out I have pan sinusitis (a more sinister, all-encompassing version of sinusitis?). It was also in said CT scan that I discovered I have a molar that started growing upward. The doctor said the molar wasn’t anything to be alarmed about but I was truly freaked out by that than anything.
Throw in some traveling (legit) and your garden variety procrastination (most legit) and there! That explains my 4-months-ish silence. Hello dear reader, it’s so nice to be back! 😀
Speaking of travel, my comeback entry is an ode to Bangkok. I passed through the city on my way to Bhutan a little over a month ago and although I had been to Bangkok very briefly years ago, I felt like I was really experiencing it for the first time and I had an awesome 2 days there. I also felt like I was discovering mango sticky rice for the first time.
Which is not true because I’ve had this before in Manila. But I thought it was meh. Also, I’m not too crazy about eating rice still in rice form for dessert after eating rice for main. I can’t explain why the popular Thai dessert made such an impression on me in Bangkok but I think the salt level had something to do with it. Or the romance of travel. So while in Bangkok, this happened.
And this happened.
Sticky rice was coming out of my nose by the time I was boarding my flight to Thimphu! But hey, I’m serious about the salt. I don’t know if I just didn’t notice with the versions here in Manila (I doubt it) but the ones in Bangkok have a really pronounced saltiness which really brings the coconut and mango flavors to the foreground. It reminds me of something a chef I ironically can’t remember said – salt is like a magnifying glass!
Another major factor is the rice. It’s soft and sticky but holds its shape and still has a bite to it. Quite the tall order, no? I don’t know if there is a unique Thai sticky rice variant but I was obsessing about the rice for a while and seriously considered asking a friend to smuggle some in. But then another friend told me to do what I did here but before that, what I used for my Mang-Glorious Sticky Rice which serves 4:
1 cup glutinous rice, soaked overnight
1 cup coconut milk
About 8 t sugar or more to taste
About 3/4 t salt or more to taste
4 medium ripe mangoes
1. So the thing with the rice is it’s local glutinous rice that you soak overnight. And then you steam it. So for that, you’ll need a pot with a lid, a steaming device like a rack, and cloth like muslin (aka katcha) to steam the rice in. I think a clean dishtowel will work, too.
This is a nifty steamer thingie I have. It goes in the pot with water underneath. I put some water in the pot, covered, and waited for the water to come to a boil. And when it did, the muslin went on top of the steamer along with the soaked glutinous rice.
From here, I covered and steamed on medium for about 30 minutes while turning the rice over once in a while, until it looked like this and the texture was something like the texture of my sticky rice fantasy.
2. While this was steaming, I took a cup of coconut milk to a small saucepan and heated it on low to start making the sauce the rice would sit in. The idea is to make it a lot sweeter and saltier than you would like because the flavors get drowned out once it’s mixed into the rice. I started out with 5 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 t salt and gradually built up from there. When you think you’re there, you will not be there. I think I ended up with more like 8 teaspoons sugar and about 3/4 teaspoon of salt. I found that it’s easier to gradually pour in some of the sauce into the rice and taste and adjust the remaining sauce and repeat until it’s to your liking.
Also, I found that I didn’t need all the sauce so go slow. You want just enough sauce to coat every grain, not the rice to be swimming in it. Set aside when done.
3. Get a pretty plate ready and cut up some mangoes. I find that both cheeks of a medium mango is a nice portion for about 2/3 cup of the rice because I don’t like it too rice-heavy. And a tip for getting the mango cheeks whole – use a glass.
I served with a drizzle of the leftover sauce on top of my sticky rice.
O, sawasdee-baaaa? A delicious and wonderful Bangkok food memory right in my own kitchen! It’s not exactly the same, what without the heady perfume of travel and adventure, but it’s pretty darn close.
Fun Food Fact: In Thailand, more than half the labor force is involved in rice production. I guess it’s no surprise then that it’s the Thai who would come up with a most fantastic rice dessert!