People who love Asian cuisine know about sticky rice.
Unlike regular rice, it is made to stick together so that it can be picked up with the fingers or chopsticks and used to soak up sauces and broths before being eaten. Regular rice is soft and fluffy and impossible to pick up like this.
It is made from special rice and is cooked with less liquid – this makes the rice bind together.
There are a few differences in how sticky rice is made, but cooking it in a rice cooker is fast, convenient, and much easier than using traditional methods – like on the stove.
Traditional Sticky Rice Takes Time And Special Equipment
Making traditional sticky rice involves some additional steps to preparation and cooking.
First, there’s the container that holds the rice as it cooks. For most Asian chefs, this involves a woven bamboo steamer basket that is pointed at the bottom and open at the top.
Although many Asian chefs have this style of rice cooker, it is very bulky and hard to store in a cupboard.
The rice basket has to be placed in a special pan that is narrow at the top to place the pointed bottom of the rice cooking bamboo basket inside.
Many Asian food stores carry these types of rice cooking sets, but they can be hard to find nonetheless.
Making Sticky Rice In A Rice Cooker Is Much Easier
A rice cooker is a pretty simple piece of kitchen equipment.
It consists of a pan that fits inside the cooker and holds the rice and water.
It has a small weight scale in the base that senses when the water has boiled off and the rice is done cooking, rather than using a timer.
This feature ensures the cooking process is much more consistent for each pot of rice.
Rice cookers are easier to find at the grocery store or the Asian food store.
They are also easy on the budget, costing much less than the special water boiling pan and woven bamboo mat steamer basket.
Varieties Of Sticky Rice
Sticky Rice or Glutinous Rice (also called Sweet Rice in some areas) comes pre-packaged from the grocery store.
Most grocery stores keep the Sticky Rice in the rice and beans section. Some put it in the Asian food section as well.
The label on the bag of rice should say “Glutinous”, “Sticky”, or “Sweet”. This rice is not the same as regular long-grain white rice or other types of non-glutinous rice.
Although it is possible to make a bowl of sticky rice out of regular rice, it usually isn’t as sticky and doesn’t stay together as well when eating with other dishes.
It’s best to stick with the sticky type to achieve the right result.
What Makes Sticky Rice Sticky?
Despite its name, glutinous rice contains no gluten.
No rice contains dietary gluten, which makes it perfect for a gluten-free diet.
However, sticky rice varies from regular rice in that it has very little or none of the compound Amylose in it, which is one of the components of starch.
The other component of starch, Amylopectin, which is present in sticky rice, is what makes the rice grains adhere to each other.
Regular rice has both components present which is why it doesn’t stick together well.
Got the Glutinous Rice and Rice Cooker – Now What?
The most important step in cooking sticky rice is soaking the rice in water before cooking.
Some recipes call for washing the rice and draining the milky water before cooking.
Other recipes say to let the glutinous rice sit in water for a while before turning on the rice cooker.
In any case, what matters the most is leaving the rice to sit in the water for at least 1/2 hour and as long as 3 to 4 hours before cooking.
This allows the rice’s coating to mix with the water and create the “sticky” effect.
This is what makes cooking sticky rice in a rice cooker so much easier than the traditional method.
Everything goes into the rice cooker all at once without a lot of fuss or spills.
Easy as 1-2-3
Making sticky rice in a rice cooker is so simple it’s amazing.
It may seem complicated to make, but it’s actually not.
- Pour the desired amount of sticky rice into the rice cooker
- Remember, a cup of uncooked rice is equal to about 3 cups of cooked rice
- Pour in enough water to cover up to the top of the rice but no further
- Regular rice requires more water above its level, but sticky rice is a 1:1 ratio of water to rice.
- Let the rice sit in the water for at least 1/2 hour and for as long as 3 to 4 hours if possible
- The longer the rice sits in water, the better the rice will stick together. Some cooks believe the longer the rice sets in water before cooking, the better it tastes.
- Turn on the rice cooker and wait for it to do its job.
That’s it! No special kitchen tools or equipment. No special cooking techniques or protocols. And no special ingredients other than rice and water.
Cooking Sticky Rice In A Rice Cooker Is Simple
Some cooks like to dress up their sticky rice with special flavors like chicken stock or a spicy sauce while cooking. Others like to add their special flavoring after the rice is finished cooking.
Because sticky rice is so popular in so many places, there are hundreds of recipes from places like India, China, Laos, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.
Southeast Asia has been consuming sticky rice for over 2,000 years and the variety of recipes and uses for the ingredients of sticky rice number in the thousands.
Simplify the process of cooking sticky rice by making it in a rice cooker – you’ll be glad you did!
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What other ingredients do you add to sticky rice? Share your recipes in the comments below.