If I were ever to run a food truck, I’m pretty sure my main offerings would start out with Pad Thai and sticky rice with mango. With the addition of a nice, fresh salad with sesame ginger carrot dressing, my version of a perfect three-course meal would be covered!Sticky rice with mango is quite possibly my favorite dessert, serving up the contrasts of sweet/salty/tart and warm/cool simultaneously. Until recently, I was reliant on Thai restaurants (which don’t always have the dessert available) to get my fix. Well, thanks to Chef Jen Knapp and my cooking class at Tante Marie’s in April, I am no longer a slave to the whims of Thai restaurants; all I have to do now is to remember to soak rice the night before I want this scrumptious dessert!
This recipe is on par if not better than the best I’ve had served at any Thai restaurant, and I’ve found it surprisingly simple as long as I have the ingredients on hand. Here are a couple of hints about the ingredients:
In the United States, it’s easiest to find Tommy Atkins mangos in the grocery store, which are the plump, roundish ones that turn a purplish red when fully ripe. Don’t be afraid to stick them up near your nose, because the tastiest ones do smell nicely of mango. (Underripe ones don’t really have any scent.) A ripe mango of this type is super sweet and will definitely taste good with the salty/sweet rice. For a special treat, though, it’s worth trying to find Ataulfo mangos. Also known known as manilla or Champagne mangos (among other names), they have yellowish orange skin when ripe and are most closely related to the variety that is common in Thailand (although the ones we find here are primarily from Mexico). Based on a highly scientific taste test with Caitlin (not really, I just happened to have both on hand!), the Ataulfos are just slightly more tart but counter with a lot more depth of flavor and a silkier texture that has the extra bonus of being way easier to slice away from its thin pit.
Palm sugar is my new favorite sweetener. On its own, it already somehow tastes like sweetened condensed milk, so it seems inevitable that palm sugar is perfect mixed with coconut cream for an amazing sauce. If you can’t find it, I’m sure you could substitute regular granulated sugar; but if you have an Asian grocery store available, it’s worth it to find the palm sugar (sometimes found in a jar, but preferably found in a block that you can just cut small slices off with a large knife).
Be sure to get a can of regular coconut milk for this recipe (not light), and do not shake it. Once you open it, the coconut cream can be scooped out from the top with a spoon, leaving the translucent coconut milk at the bottom. The proportions in one can should be pretty much exactly the right amounts of cream and milk for one recipe.
Recipe: Sticky Rice with Mango
Summary: from Chef Jen Knapp at Tante Marie’s Cooking School
- 2 cups glutinous rice or sweet rice (I use Three Ladies Brand)
- 2 20-inch squares of cheesecloth (or thin linen dishcloths in a pinch)
- 1 can of coconut milk (full fat, not light), divided into 1 cup coconut cream and 2/3 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup palm sugar
- 2 ripe mangos (preferably Ataulfo/manilla variety), peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut, toasted (optional)
- Soak the rice in cold water for at least 4 hours (preferably 8 hours or overnight). The rice will increase in volume by 50%.
- To cook the rice, bring a couple inches of water to a boil in a large pot. While the water is coming to a boil, line a steamer basket with one square of the cheesecloth. (The excess corners of cheesecloth should hang over the sides of the pot.) Drain the rice and pour it into the cheesecloth-lined steamer basket. Place the steamer basket into the pot over the boiling water, draping the loose cheesecloth over the rice so it fits under the lid of the pot. Cover and steam for 20 minutes.
- In order to cook the rice evenly, remove the packet of hot, half-cooked rice from the steamer basket and reline the steamer basket with the other piece of cheesecloth. Carefully invert the rice into the steamer basket again and steam for another 15 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, prepare the rice seasoning, coconut sauce, and ramekins. For the rice seasoning, combine the coconut milk, granulated sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Simmer over low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved (about two or three minutes). Set aside.
- To prepare the coconut sauce, combine the coconut cream and palm sugar in a small saucepan, simmering and stirring over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat (and perhaps transfer to a small carafe for easy pouring).
- Line six 4-ounce ramekins (or other small dishes) with plastic wrap (approximately 8-inch squares), leaving excess wrap open over the tops. Set aside until the rice is completed.
- Once the rice has finished steaming, remove it from the cheesecloth and transfer the rice to a large bowl. Gradually stir in the rice seasoning until all seasoning has been absorbed.
- Measure about a half cup of rice into each ramekin, pressing the rice down to fill the ramekins smoothly. Wrap the excess plastic wrap tightly over the top of the rice. Set aside at room temperature for at least a half hour or up to three hours. (Do not refrigerate the rice or it will become hard.)
- When ready to serve, unwrap rice and invert onto plates. With a fork, poke lots of holes all over the top of the rice to absorb the coconut sauce that you’ll then pour over it (a little more than a tablespoon or so per serving). If there is excess coconut sauce, serve on the side so people can add more to their taste.
- Place mango slices on top of the rice, and garnish with toasted coconut. Serve, salivate, and enjoy!
As it turns out, no fancy equipment is necessary. I don’t have a great steamer like at the cooking school, but my rice turned out well just being steamed in a normal steamer basket. Though cheesecloth works best, I’ve also improvised with linen dishcloths!
Number of servings (yield): 6
For Mother’s Day, my family threw a luau for my mom, and sticky rice with mango topped off the whole affair. If the food truck thing ever happens, I’ll guarantee that the sticky rice with mango will be served—by vehement request from my sister—with extra coconut sauce on the side!