Sticky rice is infused with a coconut and brown sugar sauce, then served with fresh mango.

Glutinous sounds like gluttonous. Also like gluey, gluts and villain du jour, gluten. No wonder glutinous rice — innocent of gluttony, gluten, glue and gluts — likes to go by sticky. Same rice; sounds nice. Or nicer.

Plus, it’s accurate: Sticky rice is sticky. So sticky it can’t tolerate standard rice prep. Boiled, it turns to paste. Microwaved: mush. But soaked and steamed, and it cooks up tender, shiny and just a touch tacky.

Better yet, doused with coconut milk and nestled next to fresh fruit, it makes a delightful dessert. Which explains the grain’s other nickname: sweet.

Look for sticky rice, also called glutinous rice or sweet rice (not to be confused with sushi rice), at Asian markets.

Sticky Rice Pudding

Preparation time: 35 minutes, plus overnight soak

Cooking time: 35 minutes

  • 3 cups sticky rice
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe mangoes or peaches, peeled, thinly sliced
  • Small fresh mint and basil leaves

Rinse rice until water runs clear. Heap into a pot, and cover with cold water by at least 1 inch. Let soak 4 to 24 hours. Drain.

Spread out rice in a steamer (see note), set over several inches of boiling water; cover and let steam until tender and shiny, about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk coconut milk, brown sugar and salt over medium low heat until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Do not boil.

Stir half the coconut sauce into the cooked rice. Let rest, 20 minutes.

Scoop rice into bowls. Serve room temperature with mango or peach and additional coconut sauce on the side. Decorate with mint and basil.

Makes 8 servings; serve as a dessert, snack or breakfast.

Note: The traditional lau or thai rice steamer is a cone of woven bamboo. Lacking cone, a two-part steamer pot (the sort often used to boil pasta) works nicely. A standard collapsible vegetable steamer works too, but its short legs may not allow for enough water for this long steam.

Check about halfway through and add more hot water, if need be. Or improvise a steamer by setting a colander inside a big pot with a lid.

Home on the Range is a Tribune News Service column by Leah Eskin, which offers “delicious essays and insightful recipes.”

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