Xôi Gấc (Vietnamese Red Sticky Rice)

Disclosure: Delightful Plate is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. We only recommend products we use and trust.

Vietnamese Red Sticky Rice (Xoi Gac) is a traditional dish usually served at special occasions such as Lunar New Year. Learn how to make it and serve it in this post.

a plate of xoi gac (Vietnamese red sticky rice) served with Vietnamese ham.

Viet people use sticky rice to cook many daily dishes such as this mung bean sticky rice and peanut sticky rice. For Lunar New Year (called Tết in Vietnamese), the most important festival of the year, we always prepare two sticky rice dishes, one is bánh chưng (green square rice cake) and the other one is xôi gấc (steamed red sticky rice).

This dish is incredibly simple with just two main ingredients: sticky rice and gấc. The rice itself is white and the red color comes from the fruit. Red color symbolizes good luck, and that is why Vietnamese people like to include xoi gac in their Lunar New Year banquets.

What is Gấc

Xoi gac gets its name from the fruit that is used to make it. Gấc is native to Vietnam and grows as vines. The fruit contains dark color seeds that are surrounded with red arils, which give xoi gac its red color. You can read more about gac on wikipedia.

a Vietnamese gac fruit

Gac fruit is covered with small spines and upon ripening, it turns from hard to soft. The skin will look red and yield to the touch once the fruit is ripe. The gac fruit in the photo above isn’t fully ripe yet.

Neither the skin nor the dark seed is edible. What we need are the red arils around the seeds, which I will show you how to extract and steam with the sticky rice in the video below. The red arils from gac are sometimes used as natural food coloring in Vietnam.

Watch How to Make Xoi Gac

Subscribe to our Youtube channel for more easy-to-follow cooking videos!

Where to Buy Gac

I’m not sure how easy it is to find whole gac fruits outside of Vietnam. I was able to find frozen gac seeds at some Vietnamese grocery stores in the UK. and the US. The first time I made this dish myself was actually when I was working on my master’s degree in London, which was also the first time I didn’t celebrate Lunar New Year in Vietnam with my family. 

Anyway, large and well-stocked Vietnamese grocery stores in big cities such as London and Chicago are likely to have gac seeds in their freezer sections. The seeds freeze really well.

If you buy frozen seeds, just let them thaw before using. If you can find the whole fruit, make sure it is ripe before cutting it open and scooping out the seeds. 

Cooking Notes

To prepare the gac seeds, stir and beat them with rice wine (or sake, white wine), salt and oil to strip the red arils off the dark seeds and form a red paste. My mom told me that the wine would help bring out the color and taste of gac.

the red paste from gac fruit seeds

As with many dishes involving sticky rice, you should soak the rice in plenty of water overnight or at least 2-4 hours. Then drain the rice and mix with the red paste thoroughly and steam until soft.

In terms of taste, the gac flavor is on the mild side. Generally, the higher the ratio of gac seeds to rice, the stronger the flavor and the color. The rice will also turn out softer, but if you use too much gac, the rice can also get mushy. 

sticky rice that has been mixed with the red paste before steaming

Salt and sugar are added for more flavors and you can tweak the amounts to your likings. Some people like to drizzle chicken fat during the last few minutes of steaming, but my family often skips this step.

How to Serve Xoi Gac

Vietnamese red sticky rice is often plated in a dome shape. To do so, simply compact the rice in a deep bowl, then invert onto a plate and remove the bowl. 

If you leave the sticky rice uncovered either at room temperature or in the refrigerator, the outer rice will be dried out eventually. So cover it tightly before storing. You can warm it up by reheating it in the microwave. We sometimes put it in our rice cooker when the Keep Warm mode is on until it is warm.

a plate of Vietnamese red sticky rice, served with Vietnamese ham

You can eat xoi gac on its own, or serve it with the followings:

  • Vietnamese ham (giò): you can find this at Asian grocery stores.
  • Roasted peanuts and sesame seeds (muối vừng): you can make this at home by using roughly equal parts of roasted peanuts and roasted sesame seeds. Pound them together until fine and add salt to taste.
  • Poached or roasted chicken: you can try my lemongrass roast chicken here.
  • Braised pork belly and eggs: this dish goes well with all kinds of sticky rice dishes.

⭐️ I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on FacebookYoutubePinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.

a plate of Vietnamese red sticky rice (xoi gac)

Vietnamese Red Sticky Rice (Xôi Gấc)

Vietnamese Red Sticky Rice (Xôi Gấc) is a traditional dish usually served at special occasions such as Lunar New Year (Tết). Learn how to make it and serve it in this post.
Author: Sophie
No ratings yet
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients
 

  • 1 3/4 – 2 cups sticky rice (about 12-14 oz)
  • 7 oz gac fruit seeds (about 1 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine (or white wine, sake)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons sugar (to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Rinse sticky rice under water and then soak in plenty of water for at least 2-4 hours or overnight. When you are ready to make the dish, drain the rice.
  • Place the red seeds of gac fruits in a mixing bowl. Add wine, salt and oil to the bowl and then use a wooden spoon to stir and beat the seeds for 3-5 minutes, or until the red arils are extracted and create a red paste. The dark seeds are now exposed. You can watch the video in the post to see how to do this step.
  • Add drained rice to the red paste. Stir well to combine thoroughly. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  • Transfer the rice to a steamer basket and steam for about 15-20 minutes. Then open the lid of the steamer, sprinkle sugar over the rice and stir well. You can taste and adjust with more sugar or salt to your likings. Steam for another 5-10 minutes or until rice is soft.
  • It is best to serve the sticky rice hot. If you are not eating it right away, cover it to prevent the rice from drying out.

Video

Notes

In Vietnam, it is easy to find whole gac fruits and we just need to let them ripe and then cut them open to get the seeds. Outside of Vietnam, you can find frozen gac seeds at some large or well-stocked Vietnamese grocery stores. Let the seeds thaw before using.
This red sticky rice is often plated in a dome shape. To do so, compact the rice in a deep bowl, then invert onto a plate and remove the bowl. You can watch this step in the video in the post.
You can eat xoi gac on its own, or serve it with the followings:
  • Vietnamese ham (giò): you can find this at Asian grocery stores.
  • Roasted peanuts and sesame seeds (muối vừng): you can make this at home by using roughly equal parts of roasted peanuts and roasted sesame seeds. Pound them together until fine and add salt to taste.
  • Poached or roasted chicken: you can try my lemongrass roast chicken here.
Course: Appetizers and Side dishes
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Keyword: lunar new year, Tet
Tried this recipe?Comment & Rate below or Tag @delightfulplate on Instagram
Liked our videos?Subscribe to our Youtube channel and cook along with us

Similar Posts

2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating