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Apr 8, 2007 10:01 PM

Help w/Thai sticky rice

I am having some trouble w/my rice. It always comes out very dense, not airy or fluffy in the least - kind of like a big rice boulder. I have the right equipment - rice from an asian market, and the aluminum pot/large conical bamboo steamer. Once I soaked the rice in cheesecloth for a good 4 hours, the next time I think 6-7 hrs. After eack soak I steamed the rice, covered with a metal pot top, for about 45 min. What am I doing wrong? Can I achieve a fluffier texture? I don't think the rice I get in Thai restaurants is ever as dense as mine turns out.

Second random question - is there any way other than above to prepare sticky rice? Can it be boiled?


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  1. Sounds like you're correctly preparing NE Thai/Lao sticky rice (khao niyao), but expecting jasmine type results. Sticky rice should be "clumpy" and will not stick to your hand if you roll a ball of it around in your hand. You don't need to soak so long. Stickiness comes from low amylose, not from absorbed water.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      Sam would you say that it is more typical to get the jasmine rice when you go out to thai as an accompaniment to the curries etc and that sticky rice is used primarily for the desserts?

      1. re: sasha1

        Yes, with a Thai meal in the US you would get jasmine or any other simple long grain rice cooked in a pot or rice cooker. The conical basket steamer is used for NE Thai and Lao type sticky rice that I'm not sure is offered anywhere in the US (anyone: correct me if wrong). For Thai style desserts in the US, I assume people use Japanese type rices. These are stickier than long-grained rices, but different than Thai/Lao sticky rice.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Thai sticky rice, commonly called "kao nee-ow" in Thailand (kind of rhymes with meow), is not just for dessert. In the north (and NE) it's used instead of jasmine rice. Break off a bit of it cooked, squish it up in your hand into a little ball, and dip it into your food to eat with your hands.

          There are definitely restaurants in the US where sticky rice is offered instead of jasmine rice. However, you usually have to ask for it unless it's a specific dish traditionally served with sticky rice such as barbequed chicken (gai yang), sticky rice and papaya salad (som tam).

          I don't think I've ever seen Japanese sticky rice, which is different, used in Thai desserts.

    2. I don't necessarily soak mine for long periods of time. But i rinse the uncooked rice until the water runs clears. Depending on the brand, this could take 10-12 times. Since I don't currently have a steamer, I boil mine and it turns out great. When I fold in the rice vinegar/sugar/salt mixture, I have a personal-size fan to blow on the rice simultaneously. My rice turns out perfect everytime.

      2 Replies
      1. re: sheilal

        You do this w/thai sticky rice? It sounds like you are preparing sushi rice...

        1. re: sasha1

          You're correct, the vinegar solution is for my sushi rice. For sticky rice, I just nix that step. But I have found that using a fan and folding the sticky rice (sans the vinegar) keeps it from clumping.

      2. I prepare Thai sticky rice in the same way that you do except that I soak it (loose) in a bowl and mix it a few times with my fingers. I don't put it into the cheesecloth until I'm ready to steam it. The rice may get a little more exposure to the water? Maybe/maybe not, just a thought! I than use it as it comes out of the steamer basket for savory Thai dishes or add coconut milk, suger and salt for dessert use.

        I cook Thai jasmine rice in my electronic rice cooker for a more 'fluffy' although not really 'fluffy type of rice.

        12 Replies
        1. re: sel

          I've never seen Thai/Lao sticky rice in the US. Where do you get it; what brands; and most importantly, do the packages say what variety it is (e.g., Sanpatong, Kao Dok Mali, ...)?

            1. re: mdjsun

              Thank you. I was one of the people who helped to set up the Lao National Rice Research Program. I wasn't asking about Lao/NE Thai sticky rice, but about its availability in the US or elsewhere outside of NE Thailand and Laos. And if available, what brands and, especially, what varieties.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I'll check when I get home and post back. It may not be thai sticky at all...

                1. re: sasha1

                  Thank you, sasha1. This is funny.

                  You got the basket steamer; and, I assume the people in the Asian store told you how to use it. I'm almost guessing that they also then sold you Lao sticky rice and that you're properly making it, but didn't expect what you got--so were disappointed.

                  My problem is that when I bring sticky rice back from Laos, I don't have the proper equipment and am (also) a bit disappointed by the results--more so because I know what to expect.

                  1. re: sasha1

                    It was Thai after all. I should have posted from home so I could tell you the brand, but forgot.

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    "I've never seen Thai/Lao sticky rice in the US. Where do you get it; what brands".

                    " For Thai style desserts in the US, I assume people use Japanese type rices. These are stickier than long-grained rices, but different than Thai/Lao sticky rice."

                    This is the brand of Thai sticky rice I use. Not sure if it says the variety. It was bought locally in Lowell, MA. Other brands are readily available. Also, have had dishes accompanied by sticky rice, along with sweet dishes like mango and coconut sticky rice in many restaurants in the US.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I was introduced to sticky rice by a family of Lao friends. I can buy the rice, pot and basket at a local asian market. I can also buy the rice at Ranch 99..a chain of asian supermarkets. But..does anyone have a suggestion of how to make sticky rice without the basket? The whole getup is too big to store in my house for use just once a year or less.

                      1. re: Rhee

                        As I replied above, I love Lao sticky rice, but don't have the gear here in Colombia. Haven't gotten it quit right without the bamboo basket.

                        1. re: Rhee

                          I use a pot of boiling water with steamer insert lined with cheesecloth. Works fine, and is a method I've read in several Asian cookbooks. Be sure not to let the water touch the rice, or the pot to run dry.

                          Here are more specifics on the technique I've used (and a coconut sticky rice with mango dessert from one of the Chowhounds' Cookbook of the Month - "Hot Sour Salty Sweet"). The authors say you can soak the rice for 6-24 hours. They also recommend turning the steamed rice out onto a clean surface, flattening it out, and then "folding" it over on itself a couple of times to get rid of big clumps, then putting it into a covered bowl or basket.



                          1. re: Rubee

                            Thank you.

                            Just one note to others (and in view of the rice packages). While "malagkit" means "sticky", malagkit rice from the Philippines won't work for a lao style rice.

                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      It is readily available in the Thai markets that I shop in every week in the greater Los Angeles area. I don't have the packaging because I dumped it into another container for storage and isolation from rodents but I recall that the last bag that I bought was 3 Ladies Brand, don't recall the variety etc.

                      Some Thai restaurants (and our local Wat Thai) offer plain sticky rice, some offer sweetened with desserts like Mango with Sticky Rice (Kao Niow Ma-muang) and one favorite restaurant has Thai Coconut Ice Cream on Sweet Sticky Rice with Coconut Jelly and Salty Peanuts! I'm going to leave now so I can have some after my Thai lunch!

                  3. Forget the cheesecloth! Just put the rice in a sieve or small Chinese mesh colander and then into a big steamer pot. It is delicious this way with no wasted cheesecloth.

                    1. When I make sticky rice, I tend to do it in the bamboo steamer, but I have had trouble with it being too soggy on the bottom. Usually I'm planning to soak it in sweetened coconut milk and serve it with mango slices anyway, so I don't really mind. In Thailand, I did see it wrapped in banana leaves (or some kind of fibrous large leaf) before it was steamed.