Sweet rice is not all about pudding
Let’s play one of those “name this” games. Name a dessert made with rice... Bet your answer would immediately be rice pudding.
Most folks would also consider this dessert’s origin to be either the United Kingdom or America itself. That would make you lose points in my game, as we will be going back to Asian culture instead.
Actually, we’re going way back to the Western Zhou Dynasty of 1047 BCE China. This country is known to be the first cultivator of rice, and rice pudding is called “eight treasure” or “eight jeweled” rice porridge.
Sweet rice, aka sticky rice, is more glutinous than your average, everyday white rice. It can be compacted more tightly around a sweet or savory filling and served as appetizers, side dishes, or desserts.
A one-cup serving contains 37 grams of carbs, which is about 2.5 servings, and very little protein and fiber. So why is it eaten on a daily basis in many countries, not just Asian cultures?
Sticky rice has antioxidant properties that help lower oxidative stress and is rich in minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and selenium. Health benefits include increased bone density, decreased inflammation, and improved heart health.
The only downside of all this is figuring out what all you can eat with the rice of course. If you make a bunch of deep-fried rice balls filled with chocolate and caramel then eat the entire batch, oh boy are you going to get yourself seriously sick, and you just might end up in the hospital.
In other words, no matter how healthy something is you still have to keep in mind that annoying little word – moderation.
Is all sweet rice the same no matter what country it’s grown in? Surprisingly not. Here in Monticello we have Ja-roen Thai Restaurant (thankfully still open, and everyone wishes the sushi would be brought back…but I digress). In Moab, there are several Thai restaurants that are of high quality as well.
One dessert that is typically on menus is Mango with Coconut Sticky Rice (Khao Niao Mamuang). The rice used is whiter, less opaque, and longer than that used in Japanese restaurants. After the rice is prepared, it’s combined with full-fat sweetened coconut milk, and left to rest to soak up the milk.
So, it’s no surprise that Roy and I are super fans of Asian cuisines, and he benefits from all my attempts at creating many of our favorite dishes.
Lately I’ve been on a mochi kick. Say what? Mochi is made from a Japanese-grown short grain, opaque form of sweet rice. The traditional method of making the mochi paste is to steam the rice then pound it out inside a wooden bowl with a wooden mallet.
The paste is then formed into balls that can be eaten as is, or it can be formed around sweet or savory fillings. Nowadays the flour can be purchased, water and sweetener added, and the paste simply stirred up in a bowl.
For those truly interested, you can learn how to make your own homemade mochi in six easy steps at: https://www.instructables.com/How-to-Make-Homemade-Mochi/
You can purchase pre-made mochi online. It’s shipped from Japan, and most vendors have reasonable prices. The products may have a filling, or you can purchase just the simple mochi balls that resemble mini-marshmallows covered in powdered sugar.
But wait! If you happen to be in Monticello, stop in at Blue Mountain Foods, go to the ice cream section, and you can purchase “My Mochi”. That’s mochi wrapped around frozen balls of rich and delicious ice cream (my favorite flavors are green tea and double chocolate).
Remember though, these little goodies are high in carbs, so one is a perfect serving. Roy and I had a fun time taste-testing all the products we could find, in moderation of course (wink, wink).
What does mochi taste like? It’s similar to a marshmallow but not as sweet and the texture is more gooey. Oh dear, now another warning that sort of ruins some of the fun of eating mochi.
Don’t put an entire mochi in the mouth and attempt to eat it whole. Mochi must be eaten in small bites and thoroughly chewed before swallowing.
Due to its glutinous makeup and dense, thick, sticky texture, it can cause a choking hazard. If not chewed but simply swallowed, it can get stuck in the throat and lead to suffocation.
Please do not be turned off by this warning, since common sense dictates that anything eaten must be in manageable bites anyway, but can still cause a choking hazard.
Roy and I dream about traveling to the various Asian countries someday, but until then we can enjoy their cuisines, either in a restaurant or at home.
Try some mochi. You just might surprise yourself and truly like it!