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Sticky rice and Jeow Mak

At the cooking class we took through Tamarind Restaurant in Luang Prabang in Laos, the first thing we learned how to make was sticky rice. Also known as “glutinous rice”, it is, in fact, gluten free. In Laos, sticky rice is used as a utensil for eating food. You take a small ball of the cooked rice and press it together a little so that it sticks to itself and will not leave grains behind when you dip it in a dish. Then you use your thumb to press the food against the rice and take a bite!

Here’s how we made it:

Wash the rice three to four times (under running water ideally) until the water runs clear.

Cover with water and allow it to soak – overnight is best, but three to four hours will work too (if you are short on time, add some salt to the water and use warm water, to help soften the grains).

Drain the rice and rince several times:


Now use a steamer lined with cheesecloth or muslin and place the steamer over boiling water. Cover with a lid:


(NB: regular Asian bamboo steamers that you can purchase at Asian grocery stores will do just as good a job as this beautiful traditional Lao steamer).

Steam for around 30 minutes. Remove from the water and turn the block of rice over. Replace the steamer over the water for about 20 minutes. Taste – it should be soft and sticky but not mushy.

Unused rice van be kept in a cool place overnight for a couple of days and reheated by steaming or in the microwave.

What to serve with your sticky rice? Well, everything, but perhaps the perfect accompaniment to the rice is the traditional Lao chili “dip”.

Guess what? We made those too! The following quantities are small, taster-sizes.

Jeow Mak Keua (Eggplant dip)

1 baby eggplant
3 small heads garlic
1 chili


Place each ingredient on its own wooden skewer (pricking the eggplant and the chili with a knife tip).


Grill over an open flame or under a grill or broiler until the skin is black.


Very black!


Peel the garlic and chili, place in mortar and pestle.


Pound garlic and chili with salt. Add eggplant (peeled) and about 1/2 cup chopped coriander along with the only green part of a small spring onion. Add fish sauce to taste.


Eat!


Enjoy!

Neil made a version of this replacing the eggplant with some small tomatoes and adding MUCH more chili:


His version included a squeeze of lime at the end with the fish sauce and about 5 spring onions (white and greens).

SO delicious and SO easy. Well, of course, it’s much easier to work when there is a lovely Lao man helping you NOT set fire to your veggies over the blazing flames and then taking them off the withered skewers so he burns his fingers and you don’t! It’s also nice to place your mortar and pestle on the ground when you are finished to have it replaced with a clean one…

To be continued…

All recipes courtesy of Tamarind Restaurant.

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5 Responses to Sticky rice and Jeow Mak

  1. Frank August 28, 2009 at 12:16 #

    Looks like a great experience. Looking forward to more posts on your trip!

  2. eatlivetravelwrite August 28, 2009 at 12:17 #

    Hey Frank – oh there will be more posts – many more!

  3. birdyonawire September 30, 2009 at 13:11 #

    Yum! just looking for a good basic jeow recipe … made a lao eggplant and pork dip for dinner (with sticky rice) and got to thinking about jeow. we didn't get a recipe for that …

  4. eatlivetravelwrite September 30, 2009 at 15:41 #

    Birdy – this is so easy! You should try it!

  5. bikegal February 8, 2010 at 16:14 #

    Really enjoyed the posts on Laos. The Lao steamer reminds me of weekend mornings with mom bustling in the kitchen. The clack clack clack of the mortar and pestle was a signal to rise and shine. Good memories!

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