The most important ingredient in this dish is the mango. The sticky rice and coconut milk are the backdrop to this “king of fruit”. The best mango for this dessert is a small, sweet yellow type called Ataulfo (Honey Mango or Manila Mango). It is non-fiborous and widely available throughout the United States. Only the ripest (sweetest) mangoes should be used and can be detected by touch and smell. The ataulfo mango will be yellow, supple to the touch with a full-fruity aroma and the skin may have a slight wrinkling to it which means it is at perfection!
The next important ingredient is the sticky rice–it’s not so much the rice itself but the manner in which the rice is cooked. Sticky rice is also referred to as glutinous rice or sweet rice. Do not be fooled because sticky rice does not contain gluten it actually has a higher starch content = sticky. This rice is traditionally cooked by steaming in a woven bamboo basket. Due to lack of space and ease of use I usually perform the ol’ boil in a pot method, however, I have heard of some cooks using a splatter guard atop a pot of boiling water and covering with a large bowl as a ‘homemade steam method’.
*When shopping in U.S. Asian markets sticky rice is usually labeled as sweet rice.
*Thai people believe that sticky rice makes you mellow and that mangoes are a comfort food which also aid digestion. A satisfying ending to any meal!
This is how my Coconut, Mango Sticky Rice turned out:
Classic Thai Mango Sticky Rice Dessert
Recipe loosely adapted by Darlene Schmidt
1 cup Thai Sweet Rice (also called ‘sticky rice’ OR ‘glutinous rice’, available at Asian food stores)
1-2 ripe mangos, cut into bite-size pieces
4-5 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can good-quality (thick) coconut milk
water (for boiling or steaming the rice)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
pinch of ground cardamom to taste
- Soak the rice in water overnight
- Do not drain the rice. Simply add 3/4 cup (more) water, plus 1/4 can coconut milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Stir this into the rice.
- Bring to a gentle boil, then partially cover with a lid (leaving some room for steam to escape). Reduce heat to medium-low.
- Simmer in this way for 20 minutes, or until the coconut-water has been absorbed by the rice. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner with the lid on tight. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.
- To make the sauce, warm (do not boil) the rest of the can of coconut milk over medium-low heat (5 minutes). Add the almond extract, cardamom to taste and 3 tablespoons of sugar, stirring to dissolve.
- Taste-test the sauce for sweetness, adding more sugar if desired. Note: that it will taste less sweet when added to the rice.
- Add scoops of rice (portion out 1 scoop per person) directly to the sauce pot with the coconut milk and stir over low heat, gently breaking apart large lumps, but leaving smaller lumps/chunks. Add the mango pieces and gently stir until everything is warmed through. Portion out into serving bowls, making sure everyone has equal amounts of rice, mango, and plenty of sauce.