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Travel From Your Kitchen: Mango Sticky Rice from Bangkok Street Vendors

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Explore Bangkok from your own kitchen as you learn how to make this Mango Sticky Rice Recipe at home!

Are you googling “sticky rice near me” during this lockdown? Oh, just me? Well, let me tell you right now, it’s not near me right now in New Zealand!

If you haven’t tried this Thai dish before, you might be thinking, “rice and fruit for dessert?? Weird.” That’s what my husband thought for years as we visited Thai restaurants. I’d order it and end up eating it alone. Not that I’m complaining, but it adds up around the middle if you know what I mean…

All of that changed when we visited Bangkok. We ended up there for six weeks and could possibly argue we ate our weight in this dish by the time we left. Well, at least the weight of my aforementioned hips.

Chris and Leslie eating at the Bangkok night market
Chris and I enjoying some fresh mango sticky rice right on the streets of Bangkok.

Bangkok has the best street food. If you are visiting for the first time, get yourself to Chinatown. I know, I know, you are there for Thai food, but trust me, Chinatown is a happenin’ place every night. You’ll find all kinds of cuisine!! Don’t believe me? Check out our video!

On my first night in Chinatown, I grabbed the first Mango and Sticky Rice I could find. You guys, the mango in Thailand puts any in the US to shame. Their mangos give our mangos, imported into the USA, body image issues. They are HUGE, ripe and incredibly delicious. Forget that half desiccated, pre-cut mango from Costco. It doesn’t deserve this dish. You’ll need to get some legit mangos and let them ripen nicely.

A walk down memory lane….

I remember walking in Chiang Mai, heading to our Muay Thai classes with five kids in tow, and looking up in a tree. It took me a minute to recognize the giant, yellow pods were mangos! Right there. They were about the size of my oldest child’s head. I marveled at them for a few minutes before I could move on! Then I promptly had this dish at the night market we went to nightly for dinner.

The kids in Bangkok, Thailand at Muay Thai lessons.
Working up an appetite at our Muay Thai Lessons. We are looking forward to that night market food.

Chances are very good that while you are in Thailand it is cheaper to eat out at a night market than it is to cook yourself. Our family could eat for about $1 each and be stuffed. But I digress into my tears, dreaming of travel days gone by….

Back to our dessert!

The mango is the cover girl of this dish and needs to be beautiful. Get a ripe mango and get more than you think you need.

Cutting a mango is notoriously hard… the locals do this:

  1. Squeeze and feel for the seed. The seed is like a big disk inside of the mango.
  2. Line up the mango so you can slice each side of the ripe mango off of the seed. Cut as close as you can without cutting much of the seed (you’ll feel the big resistance with your knife if you start going into the seed).
  3. Keep your two halves (with skin) and discard the rest. Or, if you have a great mango, you can get the small amount of remaining flesh off and eat it.
  4. Score the mango inside the skin into cubes.
  5. Invert the skin from concave to convex and BAM! You’ve now got cubes of mango you can peel right off.
  6. Slices are also acceptable and can be done in the same method.

Ok, so you’re on board with me on the mango. But sweet rice?

Take a leap of faith with me here! The rice is soft, creamy, sweet with coconut flavors and slightly salty as well. This balances with the sweet mango so well. Traditionally, it is also topped with crunchy, fried seeds. It’s the perfect combo! Salty, sweet, crunchy and fresh.

If you’re already traveling form your kitchen and have checked out my Pad Thai Recipe, I have to warn you: this dessert takes more work. It even takes an overnight soak of the rice. It will all be OK, I promise.

Mango sticky rice
A restaurant version of Mango Sticky Rice introduced to us by our travel besties. The colors are so beautiful.

Ingredients for Sticky Rice

Portions : 5-10

(Depends on how much you like the rice versus the mango!). This is a pretty big batch, so half it or even less if needed. My kids can pack it away, but we are a family of seven…

Prep/Cook time: Overnight plus 1.5 hrs

Sticky Rice

  1. 500 grams (about 2.25 cups) sticky rice (or glutinous rice)
  2. Water to rinse, soak and steam

Sweet Coconut Milk (to mix with sticky, cooked rice)

  1. 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (You’ll probably get this from a can, but they get it from the real deal!)
  2. 100 grams sugar
  3. 2 tsp salt
  4. Pandan leaves (This gives it a slight vanilla flavor! These leaves have a natural vanilla flavoring. Sub with just a dash of vanilla extract or leave it out.)

Sweet Coconut Cream Sauce (to serve with Sweet Sticky Rice and Mango. This is served on the side, typically)

  1. 1 cup coconut cream. Note: this is served as a side and you may not want this much! Feel free to cut to a smaller amount. They really like it in Bangkok, so this is a generous amount!
  2. 100 grams sugar
  3. 2 tsp salt
  4. 1 tsp rice flour
  5. Pandan leaves (or a very small amount of vanilla extract)

Additional Ingredients

  1. Mango: 4 or more, depending on size  
  2. Crunchy topping: deep-fried yellow mungbean is traditional, but you could also use sesame seeds (optional)

Directions for Cooking

Sticky Rice

  1. Rinse sticky rice in clean water several times unit the water runs off clear.
  2. Add rice to a pan and cover with clean water. Let soak at least 6 hours or overnight.
  3. Using a strainer or steamer, drain water. Place over pot filled with water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch your steaming basket or strainer.
  4. Boil water underneath and steam the rice! Steam sticky rice for about 30 minutes. You’ll now it is done when the color of the rice goes clear. While this is cooking, make your sweet coconut milk below!
  5. Remove rice and add in sweet coconut milk.

Sweet Coconut Milk (to mix with sticky rice)

  1. Add coconut milk into a saucepan and turn on low-medium heat.
  2. Add sugar, salt and pandan leaves (or vanilla).
  3. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved.
  4. Mix with steamed sticky rice.
  5. Let the rice absorb the sweet coconut milk for 30 minutes. You let this rest at room temp for up to two hours, covered.

Sweet Coconut Cream Sauce (to serve with Sweet Sticky Rice and Mango)

  1. Add coconut cream into a saucepan.
  2. Add rice flour, mix it well then turn on low-medium heat.
  3. Add sugar, salt and pandan leaves (or vanilla).
  4. Boil until sugar is dissolved. Turn off heat.
  5. Let it cool down and serve it with sweet sticky rice and mango.

Final steps: Take a portion of stick rice and add to a plate. Top with fresh mango, coconut cream, and crunchy topping (optional).

My kids tend to LOVE the sweet, stick rice and like to eat this alone. Since this costs the most and is the most labor-intensive part, in Thailand they can skimp on this a bit. You might get a little ball of rice along side your giant, fresh mango!

Street vendors will usually sell bags of sweet, sticky rice and this is what my boys want. They don’t like the cream sauce or mango, but for me, it’s not complete without all the parts!

Mango sticky rice stand at the Bangkok night market
Fresh fruit at a night market, including some fresh mango!

Be sure to tag me @7wayfinders in your creations!

Enjoy your culinary adventures!

Leslie

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