Sticky rice (or glutinous rice) is one of the major crops in Vietnam. It is opaque and will turn transparent once cooked. It doesn’t contain gluten and the name just means that the rice becomes sticky when cooked. Sticky rice is such an important part of Vietnamese cuisine. Our traditional cake, banh chung, is made from sticky rice and this square-shaped cake is an essential element of the ancestral altar of each family on special occasions such as Lunar New Year.
Steamed sticky rice (or xoi)
We can make both savory and sweet dishes from sticky rice. One of the common Vietnamese dishes made from this grain is xoi. To be honest, I don’t know how many different kinds of xoi we have in Vietnam because there are so many variants.
We usually cook xoi by soaking sticky rice overnight and then steaming it by itself or with other ingredients such as mung bean, peanut, and corn. Near the end of the cooking process, we add some fats, such as oil, chicken fat or coconut milk, to make xoi soft and fragrant. Toppings for xoi are just as diverse as xoi variants. We enjoy eating xoi with pork floss (ruoc), braised pork belly, pate, and many other tasty toppings.
Steamed peanut sticky rice in coconut milk (Xoi lac dua)
Vietnamese people cook xoi for both special occasions and casual meals. Steamed peanut sticky rice (xoi lac dua) is one of the favorite to-go breakfast items of many people and the topping that compliments it well is toasted sesame seeds. I guarantee you that the combination of sticky rice, peanut, coconut milk and sesame seed create amazing flavor and fragrance. It may look humble but it is seriously delicious, satisfying and addictive. Let’s see what it has:
Soft, moist and slightly sweet sticky rice
Buttery boiled peanuts
Creaminess and fragrance of coconut milk
Aroma and richness of toasted sesame seeds
I can eat this simple yet fantastic dish every morning. It’s best to soak the rice and peanuts in water overnight so that they expand and get soft faster when we cook. We need to boil peanuts first until almost tender, then mix rice with peanuts and shredded coconut. Steam until rice is soft and peanuts are tender, then add coconut milk. Steam for a few more minutes to let all flavors come together. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over it and you can top it with a sunny side up egg if you like.
I can’t remember where I read this, but the tip for boiling peanuts is to boil it in plain water. If we don’t add salt to the water, peanuts will be tender faster. I use a bamboo steamer to steam sticky rice, but a steamer basket like this one will do the job just fine.