How Do I Choose the Best Sticky Rice?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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Sticky rice is a side dish served with many Asian meals, often molded into small, classic bites of food. It is the rice most commonly found in sushi, rice balls, and under stir-fry dishes. Asian cooks often prefer it to other kinds of rice because it can be rolled into balls and formed into cups to hold other ingredients. When choosing the best sticky rice, a cook must typically examine different kinds of raw rice. After that, the choice comes down to creating a few test batches of cooked rice to see which one is the best for your needs.

There are dozens of different kinds of rice available in grocery stores. Sweet rice, also called glutinous rice, is one of the most popular for making sticky rice. It contains more starches than other kinds of rice, meaning it becomes stickier more quickly. Brown, basmati, and wild rice are also widely available and less processed. Health-conscious individuals may want to test these kinds of rice because they usually have more protein and healthy fiber than processed sweet rice, which is a kind of white rice.


Regardless of which you choose as your best sticky rice, they must all be cooked the same way. Soaking any kind of rice for at least an hour before cooking softens the thick outer coating on the grains. This generally allows the water and steam to develop the starches more fully. To test each kind, place about a handful of every chosen variety in its own water bath, to soak as recommended.

After soaking, each variety of rice must be simmered, in its own pot, on no more than medium heat until all the cooking water has been absorbed into the grains. This may take longer for brown and wild rice than for the sweet rice. When each rice pot has absorbed its liquid, remove it from heat and keep it covered for up to 15 minutes. The sticky rice should then finish cooking in the residual heat.

Remove the lids of of your rice pots and scoop out a small spoonful of each type of rice. Let them cool slightly, then pinch each one between the fingers. The best sticky rice should stick and mold together easily, without threatening to fall apart. Try rolling each kind of rice into a ball — the ball of the best sticky rice will stay together without trouble. If the rice grains slide against each other and slide out of the cook’s grip, or the ball disintegrates when it is set on a plate, that type is not true sticky rice.



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