Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Glutinous rice

Glutinous rice is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is called ''glutinous'' in the sense of being glue-like or sticky and not in the sense of containing gluten; on the other hand, it is called ''sticky'' but should not be confused with the other varieties of Asian rice that become sticky to one degree or another when cooked.


Glutinous rice is a type of rice grown in Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China and Laos. An estimated 85% of Lao rice production is of this type. Records of this rice go back at least 1,100 years, in this region. The improved rice varieties that swept through Asia during the Green Revolution were non-glutinous and Lao farmers rejected them in favor of their traditional sticky varieties. Over time, higher-yield strains of glutinous rice have become available from the Laotian ''National Rice Research Programme''. By 1999, more than 70% of the area along the Mekong River Valley were of these newer strains. According to legend in China, glutinous rice has been grown for at least 2,000 years. According to legend, it was used to make the mortar in the construction of the Great Wall of China, and chemical tests have confirmed that this is true for the of Xian. It is used in recipes throughout and East Asia.


Glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten , and thus should be safe for gluten-free diets. What distinguishes it from other types of rice is having no amylose, and high amounts of amylopectin . Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky quality of glutinous rice. The difference has been traced to a single mutation that was selected for by farmers. Both black and white glutinous rice can be cooked as grains or ground into flour and cooked as a paste.

Foods made from glutinous rice

Chinese traditions

In , glutinous rice is known as ''nuòmǐ'' .

The dish, nuòmǐ fàn , is steamed glutinous rice usually cooked with Chinese sausage, chopped Chinese mushrooms, chopped barbecue pork and optionally dried shrimp or scallop .

''Zongzi'' is a Chinese dumpling consisting of glutinous rice and sweet or savory fillings wrapped in leaves which is then boiled or steamed, commonly eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. ''Lo mai gai'' is a parcel of glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed. It is served as a dim sum dish in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia. ''Ba bao fan'' or "eight treasure rice" is a dessert made from glutinous rice steamed and mixed with lard, sugar, and eight kinds of fruits or nuts.

Glutinous rice is also often ground to make glutinous rice flour. This flour is then made into ''niangao'' and sweet filled dumplings ''tangyuan'', both of which are commonly eaten at Chinese new year. It also sometimes used as a thickener and for baking.

Japanese traditions

In Japan, glutinous rice is known as mochigome . It is used to make , a traditional rice cake prepared for the Japanese New Year but also eaten year-round. See also Japanese rice.

Korean traditions

In Korea, glutinous rice is called chapssal , and its characteristic stickiness is called chalgi . Cooked rice made of glutinous rice is called chalbap and rice cakes are called chalddeok or chapssalddeok . Chalbap is used as stuffing in samgyetang.

Laotian and Thai traditions

Glutinous rice is the main rice eaten in Laos, Northern Thailand, and the northeast Thai Isan region. In , and , glutinous rice is ''kao neaw'' : "kao" means rice, and "neaw" means sticky. It is cooked by soaking for several hours and then steaming in a bamboo pot . After that, it should be turned out on a clean surface and kneaded with a wooden paddle: this results in rice balls that will stick to themselves but not to fingers. The large rice ball is kept in a small basket made of bamboo . The rice is sticky but dry, rather than wet and gummy like non-glutinous varieties. The fingers of the right hand are used to eat it by wadding the rice. Two of the most popular dishes are '''' and . ''Gai yaang'' is grilled chicken, while ''tam mak hung'' is a spicy , which does not actually contain glutinous rice, but is accompanied by glutinous rice.

The northern Thais consume glutinous rice as part of their main diet, as do the Laotians. Some of the older Thais prefer glutinous rice to other rice varieties. Lao people also use toasted glutinous rice to add a nut like flavor to many dishes. It is used as the basis for the brewing of '''' , an alcoholic beverage also known as "Thai rice wine".

Kao neaw is also eaten with desserts. ''Kao neaw moon'' is Kao neaw with coconut milk that can be served with ripened mango or durian. And ''kao neaw kluay'' is banana and kao neaw steamed together, usually with coconut milk.

Vietnamese traditions

Glutinous rice, known as ''g?o n?p'' in , is typically made into sweet desserts such as "chè" , "bánh" (when dry and formed into a cake, whether using whole glutinous rice grains or the rice flour, and "X?i" . While not all che and bánh contain glutinous rice, all ''x?i'' do. It is also eaten during full moon and common during T?t and weddings due to the fact that it is used in sweets. It is often colored with food dye, as can be seen in the picture of ''x?i g?c'', a primarily ceremonial dish made by cooking gac in glutinous rice, resulting in a bright orange dessert thanks to the natural color of the gac. Vietnamese also prepare glutinous rice cakes . Glutinous rice can also be fermented, which results in alcoholic beverages known as ''r??u n?p'' and ''c?m r??u''.

Filipino traditions

In the Philippines, glutinous rice is known as malagkit , glutinous rice flour is known as galapong. The rice grains are treated with a solution of lye and then dried, then the grains are poured into a banana leaf cone or coconut leaf wrapper and steamed. It may be mixed with sugar, coconut milk, or other grains such as millet. Glutinous rice cooked in coconut leaf or wrappers are steamed to produce "," of which there are many varieties depending on the region. Some of the common toppings are "bukayo", grated mature coconut cooked in sugar, coconut jam, and freshly grated coconut. Some regions eat suman as a snack with ripe mangoes or bananas.

A general term for sweet rice cake, "bibingka" mainly consists of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk. Another traditional Filipino snack very similar to Japanese ''mochi'' is called "palitao."

Another popular use of glutinous rice is a porridge-like dish with cocoa powder called champorado. Sugar and milk are usually added as condiments.

Burmese traditions

Glutinous rice, called ''kao hnyin'', is very popular in Myanmar .
*''Kao hnyin baung'' is a breakfast dish with boiled peas or with a variety of fritters such as ''urad dal'' served on a banana leaf. It may actually be cooked wrapped in a banana leaf often with peas and served with a sprinkle of salted toasted sesame and often grated coconut.
*The purple variety known as ''nga cheik'' is equally popular cooked as ''ngacheik paung''.
*They may both be cooked and pounded into cakes with sesame called ''hkaw bouk'', another favourite version in the north among the and the and served grilled or fried.
*''Htamanè'' pwè takes place on the full moon of ''Dabodwè'' when htamanè is cooked in a huge wok, requiring two men each with a wooden spoon the size of an oar and a third man co-ordinating the action of folding and stirring the contents which include ''kao hnyin'', ''ngacheik'', coconut shavings, peanuts, sesame and ginger in peanut oil.
*''Si damin'' is glutinous rice cooked with turmeric and onions in peanut oil and served with toasted sesame and crisp fried onions, a popular breakfast like ''kao hnyin baung'' and ''ngacheik paung''.
*''Paung din'' is another ready-to-eat portable form cooked in a segment of bamboo, and when the bamboo is peeled off it retains a thin skin around giving off at the same time a distinctive aroma.

*''Mont let kauk'' is made from glutinous riceflour, donut-shaped and fried like ''baya gyaw'' but eaten with a dip of jaggery or palm sugar syrup.
*''Mont lone yei baw'' are glutinous rice balls with jaggery inside thrown into boiling water in a huge wok and ready to serve as soon as they resurface - a time-honoured tradition during ''Thingyan'', the Burmese New Year festival.
*''Htoe mont'', glutinous rice cake with raisins, cashews and coconut shavings, is a traditional dessert for special occasions and very much appreciated as a present from Mandalay.
*''La mont'' is another Mandalay snack filled with either sugar or sweet bean paste.
*''Nga pyaw douk'', banana in glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf and steamed and served with grated coconut - another favourite snack sold by street hawkers like ''kao hnyin baung'' and ''mont let kauk''.

Malaysian traditions

In Malaysia, glutinous rice is known as ''pulut'', and it is usually mixed with ''santan'', meaning coconut milk in Malay, along with a bit of salt to add some taste. It is widely used during the ''Raya'' festive seasons as traditional food, such as

* Palas - cooked ''pulut'' wrapped in triangular shaped crafts made from local leaves and left to be boiled for 3 - 4 hours to result nice shaped compression and to bring out the aroma or taste from the wrapped leaves.
* Lemang - wrapped in banana leaves and inside a bamboo, and left to be barbecued/grilled on an open fire, to make the taste and texture tender and unique
* Ketupat - square shaped crafts made from the same local leaves as palas, but it is usually filled with regular rice grains instead of ''pulut'', but it depends on the maker.
* Lopes - glutinous rice wrapped in individual triangles using banana leaves and left to boil for a few hours. The rice pieces are then tossed with grated coconut all over and served with palm sugar syrup.

''Pulut'' will also be used in certain famous ''kuih'', traditional local desserts.

Beverages made from Glutinous rice

*Home brew sato kits

Other uses

In Malaysia Glutinous rice also used to make a cracker, or keropok in Malay, called inang-inang.

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