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How to Make Thai Sticky Rice at Home

Updated on May 9, 2009

Grilled meats and sticky rice are a natural combination

Get a Thai Sticky Rice Steaming Pot and Basket

Rice is Nice

Thai sticky rice, (called Khao Niew in Thai) is an essential and integral element of Thai cooing and cuisine, and is a must have accompaniment for certain dishes such as Laarb or Som Tam (papaya salad, preferably with a little grilled chicken). It's also something rarely made in home kitchens outside of Thailand, and that's a shame, cause sticky rice is easy peasy and really really good.

Sticky Rice Cooking Instructions

Take the sticky rice and soak covered in water. The time needed for soaking depends on the age of the rice, and the older the rice, the drier it becomes and the longer the soaking period needed. New rice may only need an hour or so, but older rice is best soaked overnight, or for 8 hours or so. Since most rice sold outside of Thailand has endure some lengthy travels and processing times, you are probably safer with the longer soak. Call it 8 hours to be on the safe side.

A tricky trick, if you are in a hurry and forgot to get your soaking started, is to soak the rice in hot water, and thereby cut the soaking time in half.

In Thailand, the rice is then placed in a conical woven bamboo steamer thingy. If you have one of those, use it, and if you don’t, you can just use any form of steamer.

To keep the rice from falling through the holes in the steamer, first line the steamer area with cheesecloth. If you don't have cheesecloth, just use the thinnest cloth you have. Once the cheesecloth is covering the steamer area completely, throw in the soaked rice, cover and set heat to high.

One thing to think about is that you don't want to overfill the bottom part of your steamer with water. Once the water gets to a rolling boil, you don’t want the bubbling water to leap up and soak the bottom of your rice.

Sticky rice cooks fairly quickly. Check it once about 10 minutes after the water has come to boil. It should be sticky at this point. Ideally, you should flip the rice over now for another 5-10 minutes of cooking.

The best way to judge doneness is by taste. Different batches of rice will require slightly longer cooking times. When it is very sticky and all clumped together and soft and chewy to taste – it is done.

Once finished – before serving you should give it a real good stir, letting some of the steam escape and ensuring that the rice won't be overly wet while eating.

Sticky rice is a staple food of the north and north-eastern parts of Thailand. To eat, grab a small portion of rice and smoosh it into a little ball. You will then use the rice like an eating utensil, and dip and grasp in shared dished of food on the table.

Forget about trying to eat sticky rice with a fork or spoon!

It's delicious, quite different from Jasmine rice and well worth making at home. Enjoy!

A single serving is often served in this bamboo container

Video demonstration of making sticky rice


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