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Jan 7, 2008 11:15 AM

Sweet Rice Question

I cook many different kinds of rice very reliably in my stainless steel pans, but met my match this weekend when I tried cooking Thai Sweet Rice, a white "long grain" variety, that I purchased in a Vietnamese grocery store. I say "long grain" in quotes only because the package said long grain, but it was a far shorter grain than Basmati and looked more like arborio. It tasted fine, but it looked glooey, and gooey and shiny, even after all the water was absorbed. Really sticky and translucent. It practically turned into mortar after I stuck some of the leftovers in a plastic container and put it in the fridge.

Is this the way it is supposed to turn out? Would rinsing or using a rice cooker, which I have been adverse to buying, be a better way to cook this stuff? It does not look like Jasmine rice, which is more like what I would have expected.

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  1. Usually when we use sweet rice, we steam it rather than boil. Line a steamer pan with cheesecloth and try that.
    If you boil sweet rice as you would other rices, you wind up with something inedible.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hannaone

      Ah -- that may be the trick. How long do you steam it?

      1. re: RGC1982

        That depends on how much rice. Generally around 45 minutes. You can check for tenderness when steaming.

        1. re: hannaone

          Recipes for the black sticky rice recommend soaking it (overnight) before steaming. The soak may be more important with this rice that still has the bran.


          1. re: paulj

            I did forget to mention soaking. I soak all my rice, white/brown/black/sweet for at least an hour and bran on varieties for several hours, before cooking.

            1. re: hannaone

              Agreed, I totally forgot to mention the soak! I try to soak for at least a few hours, or even better (if I remember) - overnight.

      2. re: hannaone

        I agree. "Sweet rice" (aka "glutinous rice") is particularly great for making Thai sticky rice, which is steamed. I looove sticky rice (preferably with a spicy Thai curry!) and use an inexpensive steamer pot and bamboo basket especially made for this purpose that I picked up at an Asian market. This is what it looks like: http://www.khiewchanta.com/archives/e...

        You can also use sticky rice to make sticky-rice desserts or have it for breakfast mixed with coconut milk. More basics & ideas here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glutinou...


      3. Quick rice starch (simplistic) science primer:

        Rice contains two types of starch; amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is a longer chained starch and is less branched, giving a fluffier (because it doesn't stick together as much) product. Longer grained rice has a higher % of amylose than shorter grained. That's also why long grained rice, such as that with most chinese foods, tends to harden when chlled.

        Shorter grained rice has, well, a higher % of amylopectin. Shorter chained and more "branchy", it's stickier. It's why short grained is preferred for sushi, because you can get it to stick together more easily without squishing it. Sweet rice has a *very* % high of amylopectin, so it's *really* sticky. When chilled the amylopectin in it makes it stick together. (It's also called "sticky" rice for a reason!)

        Rinsing removes stickiness caused by surface starch, but doesn't alter the basic nature of the starch %.

        I like using a rice cooker.

        1. Soak it for at least an hour or two. I usually soak overnight. Drain, and steam. The steamer that's linked from kpzoo's post works really well. If you can't get that, you can try cheesecloth in a steamer and cross your fingers. Steaming for 20-30 minutes should be enough. The grains should be translucent somewhat (no longer white) all the way through.

          Also, keep covered while eating. As the rice dries it gets really sticky and hard. And do not refrigerate.

          I wrote a bit about making sticky rice here:
          Scroll down to the sticky rice section.

          And to further kpzoo's post, you can also make deserts. Like this one:

          Good luck!

          1. Sticky rice is great for certain deserts. I often make a Thai recipe where the rice is cooked in coconut milk and then baked in the oven with a peanut topping.

            1. To soften up the rice that has hardened in the fridge, simply steam it again. It'll get moist and chewy in no time.