Sticky Rice - Vietnamese Cuisine

At Vietnamese families, sticky rice (glutinous rice, Com Nep or Xoi) is often cooked more on formal occasions or cooked to make votive food for spiritual offerings. But sticky rice can be found at restaurants in big cities for people to have breakfast daily. While you can have sticky rice for lunch and dinner but most Vietnamese don’t normally do it. Sticky rice is more nutritious and heavier food than normal rice that quite a few can not eat it that much and can not eat often.

Steamed sticky rice with chicken at Tu Le, Yen Bai, VietnamYou can cook sticky rice by boiling it and steaming it, or just steaming it. Sticky rice can be cooked by itself, or with fresh peanuts or with mung beans. The latter is more popular. For the Vietnamese, sticky rice is considered a kind of hot food and people have it more in the winter than in the summer.

There are 2 methods that people use to cook sticky rice. Both methods require to soak the rice in water for a night to make it soften. The first method uses electric cookers for normal rice. You put the rice into a cooker and spread it flat. Then pour in water until the water level is a finger knuckle higher than the surface of the rice. Then plug the cooker to the main power source and all is done automatically.

The second method uses a a double boiler (an earthenware steamer, or a metal steamer). The glutinous rice is put in the detachable upper compartment of a saucepan. The bottom of the upper part has several small holes for water steam to travel through. The below compartment of the saucepan contains boiling water which evaporates and heat the glutinous rice above.

Steamed sticky rice with mung beans (Xoi)
Steamed sticky rice with mung beans (Xoi)

The cook should have good skills and experience as to when and how to stir the rice to get the grains all equally cooked. The fire and water level must be adjusted so that the cooked rice is not too wet and not too dry, and it is just soft enough. In case the glutinous rice is cooked with mung beans, then the mixture should stick together while the diner does not feel their hands become sticky taking the rice.Sticky rice with fried minced pork

Sticky rice can be eaten by itself or is best accompanied by steamed shredded chicken dipped in Nuoc Mam (fish sauce). In restaurants, you can find steamed sticky rice is accompanied with omelet or fried eggs, or stewed eggs or with red braised pork. Many people have it with braised sausage or Vietnamese (Lap Xuong, Lap Suon)) sausage. Sticky rice should be eaten hot and you could pour a bit of sauce of braised pork, then it is delicious on a chilly day.

Sticky rice is heavy and nutritious and it is a great dish for travelers to start a day while on tours in Vietnam. The food keeps you full of energy to go on a long day if you have to walk or cycle or trek.