This sticky rice pudding can be served for breakfast or as a dessert. When I was traveling in Thailand, I had this rice pudding almost every morning, served in small banana leaf bowls, with thick coconut cream and fresh mangoes. It is easily one of my favorite food memories of all time.
You can make this rice pudding with black or white glutinous rice. (Or use both! The black rice tints the white a delicate purplish color.) Both varieties are available in most Asian groceries. Black rice is slightly more rare, so if you do find some, stock up. Black rice also takes a little longer to steam, around 40 minutes. Both the puddings look beautifully dramatic when served with thick coconut cream and a mix of fruit.
I usually serve my puddings cold for breakfast, scooped into small bowls and loaded with fruit. For dessert, I like serving this slightly warm. In either case, the warm coconut cream spooned on top adds a lovely contrast and cuts through the sweetness.
Thai Sticky Rice Pudding with Coconut Sauce
Serves 4 to 6
white or black Thai glutinous rice
(13.5-ounce) can coconut milk
Pinch of salt
Fresh mint, to serve
Assorted fruits, to serve (I used bananas, raspberries and kiwifruit)
Wash the glutinous rice, then place in a bowl and cover with cool water. Soak for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to steam the rice, drain it and then place in a glass bowl, glass pie dish, or other heatproof bowl. Place a heatproof metal trivet inside a large pot, and add enough water to just barely cover the trivet. Place the bowl with the rice on the trivet (the water should just touch the bottom edge of the bowl). Bring the water to a boil, and once boiling, cover the pot with a layer of foil and a lid, and steam for 20 to 30 minutes until the rice is transparent and soft. (Black rice will take about 40 minutes.)
While the rice is steaming, prepare the coconut milk sauce. Open the can of coconut milk without shaking it, skim off about 1/2 cup of the thick cream from the top, and set aside to use for the topping. Gently stir the remaining coconut milk until it's uniform in texture. Combine 1 cup of the stirred coconut milk, sugar and salt in a small pan, and heat until just coming to a boil. Keep warm. (Reserve the remaining coconut milk for another use.)
When the rice has finished cooking, carefully lift out the bowl using oven gloves, as the steam can be very hot. Stir the coconut sauce into the cooked rice until the sauce is completely absorbed. Let the sticky rice sit for about 20 minutes to let the flavors blend.
To serve, place the reserved coconut cream in another small pot and heat until the cream starts to melt and become liquid and just steam around the edges.
Place small spoonfuls of the pudding in bowls, and pour over a few tablespoons of the warm coconut cream. Serve with mint leaves and fresh fruit.
You can also steam the bowl of rice inside an electric steamer like this one rather than on the stovetop.
Make-Ahead Rice: To the rice ahead, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap just after mixing it with the coconut milk and place in the fridge. The sticky rice will keep for up to 5 days.
Reheating Instructions: You can reheat the pudding in a microwave (power level 7, reheat for 1 minute, then stir and reheat an additional 30 seconds) or you can also bring the rice to room temperature, then pour over the hot coconut cream topping, which warms up the pudding.