Mango sticky rice is a Thai dessert that’s traditionally served as a scoop of sweetened coconut rice with sliced mango and coconut sauce over the top. It’s kind of like the tiramisu of an Italian restaurant- you’ll usually find mango sticky rice as the dessert option at a Thai restaurant. If you haven’t tried it, you’re kind of missing out, and you have some catching up to do! But no worries, I’ll teach you how to make it! It’s a pretty simple dish, and it’s made extra special (and glittery) when you serve it rolled up into the perfect little package. Let’s go!
There are 3 components to this recipe: the rice, the fruit, and the sauce. The most involved component is the rice (which is still super easy), The fruit and sauce are no brainers. The recipe makes about 10 rice balls (that was not enough for me, so I doubled the recipe for my event/photos). You’ll need 1 cup of glutinous rice (aka sticky rice or sweet rice), 1 cup coconut milk, 1.5 c water, and 3-4 tbsp white sugar for the rice. Rinse your rice until the liquid runs clear, and drain. Soak your rice in 1.5 cup of water for 30 minutes or overnight, and do not drain. Note about soaking: I did 2 batches, tried the different soaking times, and found the end products to be pretty similar. Add your soaked rice (with the excess soaking water), coconut milk, and sugar in a pot over medium to high heat until it comes to a soft boil. Turn the heat down to low heat and put the top on, but leave it open just a crack to allow it to vent. Let it cook for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, the rice should be tender/cooked and sticky but not mushy. Set the rice aside to allow it cool down.
While the rice cools, you can prepare the fruit and sauce. You can pick whatever fruit you’d like, but there are some things you might want to consider. You want fruit that would match well with the coconut flavor. I also recommend picking fruit that is esthetically appealing (vibrant colors are good). Lastly, you want to consider the fact that you have to cut the fruit into thin slices. I chose to go with mangoes (the traditional fruit), strawberries, and kiwis. Because you can only fit a few slices of fruit on each ball, you actually don’t need that much fruit. You can choose to serve any extra fruit on the side. Cut your fruit into thin slices- if it’s not cut thinly enough, it’ll be hard for the fruit to wrap around and adapt to the ball shape.
The sauce is just the remaining coconut milk, 3-4 tbsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Put those ingredients in a small pot over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’re basically heating it up. Set aside.
Now it’s time to assemble. To make your little rice balls, start by wetting your hands. I used about 2 generous tablespoons of cooked rice per ball, and ended up with 10. Roll the rice gently between your palms into a little ball. Grab a piece of plastic wrap (a nice big square) and set it down on a working surface. Place 1-4 slices of fruit (depending on the size of your fruit slices) on the plastic wrap, arranging nicely. Place a rice ball on your arranged fruit, gather the ends of the plastic wrap and twist. Gently press the fruit into the rice ball and mold it back into the ball shape. Unwrap and set aside. Repeat with all your fruit. I re-used my piece of plastic wrap for all the balls of one fruit, then got a new piece for new fruit. When you’re all done, drizzle a little of the sauce over the top and sprinkle some black sesame seeds if you’d like. Sorry, all my pictures are without sauce- I got too excited to take pictures, and forgot the sauce!
And there you have it- it’s THAT easy to make this dessert. And trust me, you’ll impress your guests with this one. I mean, seriously, look how cute these things are! Also, if you’re wondering why some of the rice balls are brown, I used brown sugar for one batch. I thought the flavor of white vs brown sugar are comparable, but would recommend white sugar solely for esthetic reasons- the brown sugar makes the rice brown, and I think the white rice looks better.
- 1 cup gluttonous rice
- 1 can coconut milk, divided
- 1.5 cups water
- 6-8 tbsp white sugar, divided
- pinch of salt
- assorted fruit (mango, strawberries, kiwis), sliced
- black sesame seeds, optional
- Rinse rice until liquid runs clear and drain. Soak rice in 1.5 cup water for 30 minutes of over night.* Do not drain.
- Put soaked rice (plus soaking water), 1 cup coconut milk and 3-4 tbsp sugar in nonstick pot over medium to high heat. Bring to a soft boil. Once it's bowling, lower heat to low and cook for 25-30 minutes with lid slightly open to allow for some air ventilation. Stir occasionally to avoid a burnt bottom. It is done when the liquid is absorbed, the rice is cooked through; texture should be sticky but not mushy. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- While your rice is cooling, prepare you fruit of choice by cutting into very thin slices.
- Make your sauce. Put the rest of the coconut milk, 3-4 tbsp sugar and salt in a pot over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Set aside.
- Wet your hands a little, and roll balls of rice between your palms. I ended up with 10 balls for the recipe (about 2 heaping tbsp of cooked rice per ball).
- Arrange your thinly sliced fruit (1-4 slices depending on size) on a piece of plastic wrap. Place a rice ball on the arranged fruit. Gather the ends of the plastic wrap, twist and gently press the fruit into the rice while shaping the rice ball into the appropriate shape. Repeat with all rice balls and fruit.
- Drizzle some sauce over the rice balls.
- Sprinkle black sesame seed for decoration if using.
- * I soaked one batch for 30 minutes and one overnight, and didn't notice a huge difference in texture.