Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Japanese" sticky rice

My Pan-Asian culinary experiments continue this weekend with a sticky rice recipe.

My love for sticky rice stems from frequent childhood dinners at our local Thai-Chinese restaurant in Paris. Ever since I've been a kid (and it's been quite some time...), every time I go there I eat the exact same thing: Nems (fried springrolls), Five-spice duck (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, sichuan pepper and fennel) and a basket of steamed sticky rice.

I have never found sticky rice this good anywhere else. And believe me, I tried. A lot!

Back in the summer, I got tired of constant disappointment and I took a trip to a large Asian supermarket to try and find sticky rice to make it myself (including a 30 minutes bus ride, that's how motivated I was!). I didn't find long Thai sweet rice, but a shorter Japanese grain (correct me if I'm wrong, as I am not well versed in any of the Asian characters). I still bought it, happy as a clam and stowed it in the back of my pantry, thinking I was going to rock it soon.

Fastforward 6 months, and it's now time I tackled this!

Please take this recipe with a grain of salt :) I am in no way claiming that this is the authentic way to eat sticky rice. This is merely the way *I* like to eat it. Plain, with a splash of soy sauce and nori on the side.

- 3 cups of sweet glutinous rice (will make 6 cups cooked)
- water, salt
- a steamer (either bamboo lined with a cheesecloth, or metallic, they are readily available in Asian grocery stores)

- rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear

- let soak in water overnight

- drain the rice, place in a steamer in a thin layer and steam for 25 minutes

Note: as you can see my steamer was very artisanal: I used a metallic sieve placed on top of a bamboo steamer tier, in a wok and blocked any open areas with aluminum foil. You can use whatever setting you like, as long as the rice is not touching the water and you can contain the steam in a closed environment. 
Note 2: Do remember that boiling water evaporates (that's the steam!), so you need to replenish the water in the bottom pan, otherwise it will burn!
- after 25 minutes, turn the rice once so that the bottom grains are now on the top, that will ensure homogeneous cooking and steam another 25 minutes, or until the rice is translucent and chewy (you don't want the rice to be grainy and floury to the taste)

- this sticky rice can be rolled into small balls, dipped in sauces and eaten with your hands
- I ate mine with a splash of soy sauce, nori and wasabi coated sesame seeds
- Enjoy!

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