Short Grain Sticky Rice: At a Glance
Sticky rice is one of the great joys of Asian cuisine. For instance, long grain sticky rice is used in the famous Thai dish “sticky rice and mango,” while short grain sticky rice is used quite often in Japanese sushi.
What makes sticky rice different from regular rice? Where does it come from? And is it suppose to be that sticky? The short answer to the last one: yes, it is supposed to be that sticky; and the reason it makes for a more desired alternative to regular white rice is because it lacks the starch amylose but contains higher amounts of amylopectin, which makes it both stickier and sweeter than ordinary rice.
Cooking with Short Grain Sticky Rice
Before you go stocking up on long grain sticky rice thinking, “the longer, the sweeter,” we highly recommend a little flexibility within your cooking preference. In fact, we’ve found that our short grain sticky rice cooks much easier than our long grain; and, bear in mind, sticky rice has a thick outer shell and requires soaking in cool water for at least 45 minutes before cooking.
Here are a few ways short grain sticky rice is cooked throughout the day:
- Breakfast: It is used in many breakfast dishes, such as Sunga saul, which is a meal where the rice is soaked and cooked with a special type of bamboo. In Burmese you can find it being used in a breakfast dish known as Kao hnyin baung, which is made up of boiled peas and a variety of fritters, and it is generally served on a banana leaf.
- Lunch: Si htamin is another go-to dish made up of sticky rice cooked in oil while served with boiled peas, as well as crushed salted sesame. One popular snack, candil, is sticky rice mixed with sugar and grated coconut.
- Dinner: Another popular sweet, dessert-type dish is what is known as atikka pita, where it is mixed with a small slice of coconut, sugar (or brown sugar), and ripe banana, and it is wrapped up in a banana leaf and then steamed. In China, it is used when cooking deep-fried dumpling balls as well as a dessert ball stuffed with sesame paste. It is also used when cooking what is referred to as a rice pancake or “Chinese pizza.”
Lastly, in Bangladeshi, it is also very popular when cooking khoi (pop rice), which is similar to a bowl of sweet popcorn (think of popcorn covered in syrup).
Short Grain Sticky Rice: History and Origination
Sticky rice is mainly known to grow in the south and eastern parts of Asia, and is mainly made up of opaque grains. It is also referred to as glutinous rice (or waxy rice) because glutinous comes from the Latin word “glutinosus” meaning glue-like—not to be confused with gluten, which it does not contain. Yes, despite being sometimes called glutinous rice, it is ideal for gluten-free recipes.
Believe it or not, according to legend, sticky rice was also used in building the Great Wall of China. The reason for this is because its starch (amylopectin) is often used as a type of adhesive or glue. A chemical test later confirmed this legend to be true.
Cultivation of Short Grain Sticky Rice
Growing sticky rice requires acidic, clay-like soil for best results. It is also important that a reliable water source is nearby, and that there is a way to drain the water when it is time to harvest.
Sticky grain rice grows best in full-sunlight, where temperatures reach at least 70º F (approximately 21º C). It also important to bear in mind that rice requires a long, warm growing season. In short, rice seeds need all the nutrients and space they can get.
Now, here’s the tricky part: while sticky rice needs a relatively warm climate to grow properly, it also requires that its soil remain wet. That doesn’t mean flooded, but rather damp, like that of a wetland. When caring for a sticky rice crop, if it is being grown in wetlands, constant de-weeding is not as necessary as in other places.
It takes approximately three to four months for a crop to mature and be ready for harvesting. You know they are ready when they’ve reached 15 to 17 inches tall, and have turned from green to gold.
About Our Short Grain Sticky Rice
Our short grain sticky rice is cultivated in the wetlands of California. Because of California’s low humidity and close proximity to the ocean, it provides the most ideal climate necessary to produce the best quality rice. In fact, California is known to produce the world’s highest rice crop yields.
Unlike most crops, rice is an aquatic plant that needs continues watering. The wetland environment is ideal because it enhances weed control and minimizes the need for additional fertilizers.