Sticky rice goes by many names — waxy, sweet, and pearl among them — but the most confusing one is glutinous. Does glutinous rice actually contain gluten?
Does It Contain Gluten?
The answer is no: glutinous rice is gluten-free. The misleading name simply comes from the fact that glutinous rice gets glue-like and sticky when cooked.
Why is it so sticky? It all comes down to starch content: the starch in rice has two components, amylose and amylopectin. Medium and long-grain rices have a higher proportion of amylose, whereas the starch in short-grain glutinous rice is almost all amylopectin, contributing to its moist and stickier texture.
Cooking Glutinous Rice
Compared to longer-grained rices, glutinous rice requires the least amount of water to cook. Because it breaks down easily, it's often soaked and then steamed instead of boiled. Although it doesn't taste sweet, it's also called sweet rice because it's often used to make sweet dishes in Asia.