The story of sticky rice.
If you are a Thai food connoisseur, you are probably familiar with our sticky rice -also known as glutinous, or sweet rice. The Thai term for that is "kaoniew." Kao is rice, and niew is sticky. It has a long grain, similar to the normal jasmine rice, and although not as aromatic it still has an inviting fragrance. In North America, kaoniew- aka sticky rice- can be purchased at most Asian, Oriental, and Thai grocers. It comes in a variety of sizes: 5-pound, 10-pound, and 25-pound bags. There's a clear label displaying its name, "Glutinous Rice," or "Sweet Rice," in several languages. Please keep in mind, too, that Thai sticky rice is not the same as Japanese sweet rice.
Kaoniew is eaten with a variety of dishes such as: somtum (or young papaya salad), beef salad, grilled steak or pork shoulder with spicy sauce, laabmoo (aka minced pork in lime sauce), one sun-dried beef or pork, rotisserie herb-infused chicken, or fried chicken etc. On the dessert side, there are: kaoniewmamuong (aka sticky rice with ripe mango), kaoniewsunkaya (sticky rice with egg custard wtih coconut cream and palm sugar), kaoniewnamgatitoorian (sticky rice with durian in coconut cream), and kaoniewtuadum (sticky rice with black beans). The list goes on and on.
Growing up in Thailand, I was destined to be introduced to kaoniew from the time I was a mere toddler. Kaoniew is the kind of food that is offered to all kids, especially the picky eaters, because of its play-ability. I was o ne of those. I remember my nanny telling me to open my palm as she grabbed three-fingersful of warm and aromatic kaoniew right off the bamboo steamer and then dropping it in my hand. I would put the palm of my other hand on it and start to roll it around until it formed the shape of a ball. After admiring my 'sculpture,' I'd put it in my mouth and enjoy the natural sweetness of the rice as it burst inside, and I wouldn't swallow until the nanny scolded me for playing with my food, instead of chewing and swallowing it down in a fashionable manner.
In Thailand, kaoniew can be found from roadside restaurants and street vendor stalls all the way to five-star restaurants. It is a form of rice whose popularity extends far beyond Isaan, the Northeast region of Thailand, where Laotian food is a big influence. Everyone of all ages, and from all regions of the country, loves eating kaoniew. When I lived in Bangkok I sent my Isaan maid- who was also my northeastern cuisine "expert," and of whom I would refer as my sous chef- to buy a very good bamboo steamer (huad) used specifically for steaming kaoniew. When it came time for her to help me gather my belongings for our big move to America, she asked if she could have it as a souvenir. I chuckled because I had given her and her colleague (who also stayed with me until the end) many expensive items, from kitchen gear to clothing, but obviously she saw the "huad" as an invaluable asset. "You may have this "huad" as long as you promise that you won't picture my face in the steam of kaoniew when you cook," I teased.
Not having the kaoniew steamer is not a problem, though. Obtain a copy of my eBook recipe and see how I manage to make my own sticky rice -or kaoniew- and still get the best result, here -in my own kitchen in North America.
In this recipe I will show you how to make your sticky rice -kaoniew- and two accompanying dishes: minced pork and chicken in lime sauce (or, as some prefer to call this mouth-watering dish, "Thai ground pork (chicken) salad."), and pan-fried salmon steak marinated in nampla. These dishes will show you how simple it is to cook a Thai meal in your own kitchen. Years ago, when the first Thai dish was introduced internationally, people were so intrigued by the exotic ingredients that they overlooked the simplicity of theThai ways. It was a mis-opportunity indeed. Together, I will show you the least complicated way to bring delicious Thai food -made by you- to enjoy with your family at mealtimes.
Three dishes -three character traits. Together, they dance a very happy and satisfying tune that is promised to bring the house down.