Long Grain Sticky Rice: At a Glance
Long grain sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice, is one of the delicacies of Asian cuisine. In fact, long grain sticky rice is most commonly used in the famous Thai dish “sticky rice and mango,” while short grain sticky rice is used quite often in Japanese sushi.
Now, what makes sticky rice different from regular white rice? Where does it originate from? And where does it get its stickiness? In fact, the stickiness comes from a low amount of the starch amylase but extra amylopectin, and this also gives the rice a sweet flavor that makes it the most desired alternative to regular white rice.
Cooking with Long Grain Sticky Rice
Before you start cooking anything, it is important to understand that sticky rice has a thick outer shell that requires soaking in cool water for at least 45 minutes before cooking. With that said, like any rice, sticky rice can go with just about anything. However, unlike most other kinds of rice, it can also be used in desserts.
A small, cone-shaped, woven bamboo basket would be considered the traditional vessel to cook sticky rice in, but a steamer insert for a large saucepan would be the next best thing.
Here are a few ways long grain sticky rice can be served:
Meals: In Thailand, Cambodia, and South-East Asia, during the mango seasons, white sticky rice, flavored with coconut, is the go-to companion for the delicious tropical fruits because they provide an added flavor of sweetness. In northern Thailand and Laos, where sticky rice is the main carbohydrate of choice, and where food is typically eaten using one’s hand(s), cooks are known to serve the rice in small balls, which can be used as a scoop for salads, curries, and other dishes.
The following are just a few meals you could make using long grain sticky rice:
- Burmese sticky breakfast rice
- Sticky rice dumplings
- Spicy tuna and sticky rice in banana leaf
- Sticky rice with chicken and sausage
Desserts: Because of the sweet taste that long grain sticky rice provides, it can also be used in many deserts. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Fried sticky rice cakes
- Palm sugar and pandan sticky rice cakes
- Sweet sticky rice with fruits, nuts, and honey
Long Grain Sticky Rice: History and Origination
Long grain sticky rice is mainly known to grow in the southeastern parts of Asia. Another name that they are most often referred to by is glutinous rice because glutinous comes from the Latin word “glutinosus” meaning glue-like—not to be confused with gluten, which it does not contain. Moreover, sticky rice is sumptuous and fantastic for gluten-free recipes.
As noted before, long grain sticky rice (or glutinous rice) is different from other rices because it contains little to no amylose, and high amounts of amylopectin. It is the amylopectin in particular that is responsible for its stickiness.
According to legend, sticky rice was also used in building the Great Wall of China. The reason for this is because its main starch (amylopectin) is often used as a type of adhesive or glue. Later, a chemical test was conducted and confirmed the legend to be true.
Cultivation of Long Grain Sticky Rice
In short, rice seeds need all the nutrients and space they can get. Growing sticky rice also requires acidic, clay-like soil for best results. It is 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 requires full-sunlight where temperatures reach at least 70º F (approximately 21º C) in order to grow at its best. It also requires a long, warm growing season.
Now, here’s the tricky part about farming this type of crop: while sticky rice needs a relatively warm climate to grow properly, it also demands 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 rice crop to mature and be ready for harvesting. You know the grains are ready when the stalks have grown 15 to 17 inches tall, and have turned from green to gold.
About Our Long Grain Sticky Rice
Our long 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 largest amounts of rice crops in the world.
Unlike most crops, rice is an aquatic plant that needs continues watering. California’s wetland environment is ideal because it enhances weed control and minimizes the need for additional fertilizers.