Asian Sticky Rice Recipe – Techniques & Tips

by Ella

Asian sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice or sweet rice, is a staple in many Asian cuisines. With its unique texture and subtle sweetness, sticky rice is a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, from savory stir-fries to sweet desserts. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the world of Asian sticky rice and explore the techniques and tips for making perfect sticky rice every time.

Asian Sticky Rice: What Sets It Apart

Before we dive into the details of how to make Asian sticky rice, let’s take a moment to understand what sets it apart from other types of rice. Unlike long-grain rice varieties, which become fluffy and separate when cooked, sticky rice has a sticky, glutinous texture that clings together, giving it a chewy and slightly sticky consistency.


The unique texture of sticky rice is attributed to its high amylopectin content, a type of starch that becomes gelatinous when cooked. This gives sticky rice its characteristic stickiness and makes it ideal for dishes where a cohesive texture is desired, such as sushi, rice cakes, and dumplings.


Selecting the Right Type of Sticky Rice

White Glutinous Rice: This is the most common type of sticky rice, with opaque grains that turn translucent and shiny when cooked. White glutinous rice is versatile and can be used in a wide range of savory and sweet dishes.


Black Glutinous Rice: Also known as black sticky rice or forbidden rice, this variety has a dark purple hue and a slightly nutty flavor. Black glutinous rice is often used in desserts, such as rice pudding or sweet soups, and adds a striking visual contrast to dishes.


Brown Glutinous Rice: Brown sticky rice retains the bran layer, giving it a nuttier flavor and chewier texture compared to white glutinous rice. It is a nutritious alternative to white sticky rice and can be used in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet.

Preparing Asian Sticky Rice: Techniques and Tips

Soaking the Rice

Soaking the rice is a crucial step in preparing Asian sticky rice, as it helps soften the grains and ensures even cooking. Here’s how to soak sticky rice properly:

Rinse the Rice: Place the sticky rice in a large bowl and rinse it under cold water, swishing it around with your fingers to remove any excess starch and impurities.

Soak the Rice: Cover the rice with water and let it soak for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight. This allows the grains to absorb water and become plump and tender.

Drain the Rice: After soaking, drain the rice thoroughly in a fine-mesh sieve or colander to remove any excess water.

Cooking Methods

Steaming: Steaming is the traditional method for cooking Asian sticky rice and yields the best results in terms of texture and flavor. Here’s how to steam sticky rice:

Place the soaked and drained sticky rice in a steamer basket lined with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel.

Bring water to a boil in the steamer pot, then reduce the heat to medium-low.

Place the steamer basket over the pot, cover with a lid, and steam the rice for 25-30 minutes, or until tender and cooked through.

Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork or rice paddle and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Boiling: Boiling is a quicker method for cooking sticky rice, but it may result in a slightly less sticky texture compared to steaming. Here’s how to boil sticky rice:

Place the soaked and drained sticky rice in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice by about 1 inch.

Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer the rice, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.

Once cooked, drain any excess water and fluff the rice with a fork or rice paddle before serving.

Tips for Perfect Sticky Rice

Use the Right Ratio of Water: The ratio of water to rice is crucial for achieving perfectly cooked sticky rice. As a general rule, use a 1:1 ratio of water to rice when steaming or boiling sticky rice.

Don’t Overcook the Rice: Sticky rice can quickly become mushy and overcooked if left on the heat for too long. Be sure to monitor the rice closely and remove it from the heat as soon as it is tender and cooked through.

Fluff the Rice: After cooking, gently fluff the sticky rice with a fork or rice paddle to loosen the grains and prevent them from clumping together. This will help achieve a light and fluffy texture.

Incorporating Sticky Rice Into Your Culinary Repertoire

Sticky Rice Stir-Fry: Use cooked sticky rice as a base for a flavorful stir-fry with vegetables, tofu, and your choice of protein. The sticky texture of the rice will absorb the savory sauces and spices, creating a delicious and satisfying dish.

Sticky Rice Dumplings: Fill sticky rice dumplings with a savory mixture of seasoned pork, mushrooms, and spices, then steam until cooked through. These dumplings are a popular dim sum dish and can be enjoyed as a snack or appetizer.

Sticky Rice Balls: Form cooked sticky rice into small balls and fill them with a savory or sweet filling, such as seasoned ground meat, vegetables, or red bean paste. Steam or deep-fry the rice balls until golden and crispy for a delightful and flavorful treat.

Mango Sticky Rice: Serve cooked sticky rice with ripe mango slices and a drizzle of sweetened coconut milk for a classic Thai dessert that is both refreshing and indulgent. The creamy coconut milk and juicy mangoes pair perfectly with the chewy texture of the sticky rice.

Sticky Rice Pudding: Cook sticky rice with coconut milk, sugar, and spices until thick and creamy, then serve warm with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dollop of whipped cream for a comforting and satisfying dessert that is perfect for the holiday season.

Sticky Rice Cakes: Mix cooked sticky rice with sugar, coconut milk, and your choice of flavorings, such as pandan or vanilla extract, then press the mixture into a pan and let it cool until set. Cut the sticky rice into squares or rectangles and serve as a delightful sweet treat for snacking or dessert.

See Also: 5 Heart-Healthy Chinese Dishes to Try


Asian sticky rice is a versatile and delicious ingredient that can elevate both savory and sweet dishes. By understanding the unique characteristics of sticky rice and mastering the techniques for cooking it perfectly, you can incorporate this staple into your culinary repertoire with confidence.

Whether you’re steaming sticky rice for a savory stir-fry, boiling it for a sweet dessert, or using it as a filling for dumplings and rice balls, there are endless possibilities for creating flavorful and satisfying dishes that celebrate the rich culinary traditions of Asia. So gather your ingredients, unleash your creativity, and get ready to enjoy the delightful and comforting flavors of Asian sticky rice.



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