Non-sticky rice can be steamed or boiled but the sticky one can only be steamed. If steamed without the rice sitting in water, it should be soaked for several hours, which was what I did when I was a sticky rice novice. Of course, I didn't always have several hours' foresight into when I wanted to tuck into a bowl of piping hot rice, and hunger made my brain tick.
Hmm . . . instead of making the rice absorb water before cooking it, why not make it absorb water whilst it's being cooked? Hey, we all have to multi-task, even rice!
I added water to unsoaked rice in the steamer and – tadaaa! – I had perfectly cooked sticky rice in 20 minutes. Which I have since cut down to 15 minutes by using a wider, more shallow bowl. So that's all I need now, a quarter of an hour, for sticky rice steamed to perfection. Soaking is not necessary, neither is the special bamboo thingy used by the Thais.
Too much water makes sticky rice less fragrant, less chewy/'Q', and more sticky. The optimal amount is just enough water to cover the rice by about 0.5 cm. And if I have some pandan leaves handy, I cut a few small pieces and tuck 'em around the rice, which should be fluffed five minutes before it's done. And when it is, I have 'Q', fragrant sticky rice that's not very sticky at all. It is, for me, better than even Royal Umbrella's regular rice.
Isn't sticky rice very filling? Nope, not at all when it's au naturel. I cook the same amount whether the rice is sticky or not. But once sticky rice is turned into, say, bak chang, then it's a different story. It's the excessive oil in bak chang that makes you feel stuffed, not the rice. Don't believe me? Try some homemade Fried Glutinous Rice, with just 1⅛ teaspoonfuls of oil per portion. I promise it eats like regular fried rice, but better. Can you see that the rice grains are separate, not clumped together? That's because the rice isn't steamed at all but stir-fried till it's cooked. If you like your rice chewy, Fried Glutinous Rice would be your kind of paradise.
|FRIED GLUTINOUS RICE (生炒糯米飯)|
(Recipe for 4 persons)
1½ cups glutinous rice (320 g)
soak 3 hours and drain8 medium size Chinese dried mushrooms (35 g)
wash and soak in 120 ml water till soft, 30 minutes or longer; squeeze dry, reserving water; cut into 1-cm dice, reserving stalks for other dishes3 tbsp dried prawns (20 g)
wash and soak in 2 tbsp water till soft, 30 minutes or longer; squeeze dry, reserving water100 g pork (shoulder butt)
wash and cut into 1-cm dice; marinate 15 minutes or longer with 1 tsp each of light soya sauce, Shaoxing wine and egg2 eggs (use 1 tsp for marinating pork)
beat with dash of ground white pepper, pinch of sugar, 1 tsp light soya sauce and 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
1½ tbsp oil from deep-frying shallots, or white sesame oil
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
¼ tsp salt
½ cup water
1½ tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp deep-fried shallots
3 tbsp roughly chopped spring onions
ground white pepper to taste
½ tsp toasted white sesame seeds
The pork may be replaced with some diced lap cheong. If you're doing that, remember to go easy on the oil, salt and oyster sauce.
Prepare glutinous rice, dried mushrooms, dried prawns and pork as detailed above.
In a well-seasoned or non-stick wok, make a thin omelette with eggs using ½ tbsp oil. Chop roughly (just jab violently with your spatula when omelette is almost done, as if it's your boss/mother-in-law). Set aside.
Add remaining 1 tbsp oil to the wok. Stir-fry dried prawns over high heat till lightly golden. Add mushrooms and stir-fry till fragrant. Add pork and marinade. Stir-fry till wok is very hot. Drizzle with 2 tbsp Shaoxing wine. Stir till absorbed. Sprinkle with salt and stir through. Add rice and stir through again. Drizzle with water used for soaking mushrooms. Stir till absorbed. Drizzle with water used for soaking dried prawns. Repeat stirring as before. Add water 2 tbsp at a time, stir-frying till absorbed after each addition. Rice should be cooked after adding ½ cup water, which should take about 10 minutes. Taste to see if it is. If it isn't or if it's too hard, add more water and stir-fry a few more minutes. Next, add oyster sauce and mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Turn off heat. Sprinkle with half of omelette, deep-fried shallots, and spring onions. Add a few generous dashes of ground white pepper. Mix through. Plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds, and remaining omelette, shallots and spring onions as garnish.
生炒糯米飯 may be eaten hot or at room temperature. Chew slowly and chew well to appreciate the fragrance!