My mother was my first cooking teacher. She taught me everything from making curry paste from scratch to peeling a mango. (Here’s how it’s done – we push the knife away from our bodies: How to Peel a Mango.)
In Thailand, there are many varieties of mangoes. Most people are familiar with sweet yellow mangoes, such as Nam Dok Mai and Ok Rong, and enjoy them with sweet sticky rice. Green mangoes are firm and sour, and best used in savory dishes. Check out the Michelin Guide on Thai mangoes.
Here’s a traditional recipe for Thai Sticky Rice and Mango, though I’ve reduced the sweetness a bit from the traditional recipe. Enjoy!
2 cups Thai sticky rice (also called sweet rice or glutinous rice)
3-4 ripe yellow mangoes
2 cups water
5-6 butterfly pea flowers (optional)
A wedge of fresh lime (optional)
Prepare Butterfly Pea Water (Optional)
For Royal Thai cuisine, which places emphasis on not only ingredient quality but also presentation, sticky rice is infused with butterfly pea water before steaming to add purple hue.
Bring water to a boil and turn off the heat. Add fresh or dried butterfly pea flowers to steep for at least 30 minutes. Squeeze fresh lime and add a few drops of lime juice at a time to change the color from blue to purple. The more you lime juice, the darker purple. Strain and use the butterfly pea water to soak the sticky rice.
Rinse Sticky Rice
Add sticky rice to a bowl filled with water and rinse and repeat 3-4 times or until the water is no longer cloudy. You may use alum as part of the rinsing process to give a nice sheen to the rice.
Soak the sticky rice in water (or the water with the butterfly pea) for 3 hours. Do not soak it too long or the rice will become too soft.
Prepare Coconut Mixture
½ cup coconut milk
¼ cup sugar
½ ts salt
Add all ingredients in a saucepan. Mix together over medium heat and then bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, transfer mixture to a bowl and let cool.
Cook Sticky Rice
The best way to cook Thai sticky rice is to steam with a steamer and cheesecloth, or in a bamboo steamer. Add water to the bottom section of the steamer, lay cheesecloth on the second tier of the steamer, drain the rice and spread the rice evenly on the cheesecloth. Cover with the steamer lid. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to medium heat and steam for 10-15 minutes. Check the rice and flip over to evenly cook and steam for 10-15 minutes more until cooked through.
Add steamed sticky rice to a glass mixing bowl, slowly pour coconut mixture onto hot rice and gently mix together. Cover the bowl with a lid and let it sit for 20-30 minutes until steamed rice absorbs the coconut mixture.
Make Coconut Cream Topping
½ cup coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 ½ ts rice flour
¼ ts salt
Add all ingredients in a saucepan. Mix together over medium heat and stir until the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and drizzle over the sticky rice before serving with fresh mango. Rather that use coconut cream, you can experiment with coconut or other flavors of ice cream.
Finally, in serving sticky rice and mango, in Thailand we top the sticky rice with roasted yellow mung beans. To prepare them, we soak the beans in the water for an hour and then roast in a pan over medium heat until they turn a crispy golden brown. You can use sesame seeds, ground peanuts, cashews, pistachios or other favorite toppings.