A Rice Anecdote

Yo yo yo from my parents’ place in Cake City.  Just made another batch of banana coconut sticky rice dessert, for my family to try.  Just so we are clear on terms: sticky rice = glutinous rice = sweet rice.  This time I substituted Sugar in the Raw for my usual blend of brown sugar and palm sugar, and Korean short grain brown sticky rice for Thai long grain sticky rice, because that’s what my mom had around the house.

So I didn’t realize until a couple days ago that there was a difference between long and short grain sticky rice (I knew there was a difference between long and short grain regular rice though).  My mom was talking to me yesterday about how she associates long grain rice with “famine” (her word, not mine). WHAT!?

Ok, so my mom grew up in Taiwan. Long before it was the land of fist-fighting politicians and the Taipei 101 skyscraper, it was a poor developing country.  There was a rice shortage when she was growing up and they had to import long grain rice from South East Asia.  Short grain rice (similar to the kind the Japanese and Koreans eat) is more commonly eaten in Taiwan, so my mom said she couldn’t get used to the taste and texture of long grain rice.  She said it was so disappointing it made her cry, and she still won’t eat long grain rice today, because it reminds her of poverty and famine.  I, for the record, have no problems with long grain rice.

This reminds of me of the fact that my paternal grandfather, who is from China, won’t eat brown rice, despite the health benefits, because it reminds him of wartime poverty when white rice wasn’t available.

Or one of my fellow former JET assistant language teacher’s students in Japan, who cried when the JET made some American-style rice pudding in class.  Apparently the kid was upset that the teacher “ruined” some “perfectly good rice.”

Moral of the story: don’t mess with an Asian person’s rice, just like you wouldn’t mess with a French person’s baguettes.

In totally unrelated music news, the HEPNOVA recording sessions are going well.  More music coming soon.  Check out what we’ve got so far on HEPNOVA.com.  And follow us on Twitter.

Banana Coconut Sticky Rice Dessert

banana coconut sticky rice

I served this banana coconut sticky rice dessert at my end-of-semester dinner party last night. It is inspired by a Filipino dessert called bibingkang malagkit, that I discovered on a recent trip to Las Vegas.  Both “banana coconut sticky rice dessert” and “bibingkang malagkit” are a real mouthful, so does anybody have a better name?

  • 2 rice cooker cups of white sticky rice (AKA sweet or glutinous rice)
  • 1 can of coconut milk (14 ounces, don’t shake before opening)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of palm sugar or brown cane sugar (I use a combination of both.  Buy palm sugar at Bangkok Center Grocery in Chinatown or at Kalustyan’s in Curry Hill.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch diagonal slices
  • 1 handful of dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)

Open the can of coconut milk and spoon off the thick coconut cream on top to separate it from the lighter coconut milk below.  Cook the rice, salt and light coconut milk in a rice cooker according the rice cooker instructions.  You may need to add some water to make the proportions correct.

While the rice cooks, preheat an oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and make the coconut caramel:  put the reserved coconut cream in a small saucepan with the sugar and vanilla.  Cook over medium heat and stir until the sugar melts and the mixture gets bubbly.  Turn off the heat and mix the dried shredded coconut into the coconut caramel mixture.

When the rice is done cooking, spread it out into an 8 inch x 8 inch oven-proof casserole.  Layer the banana slices on top of the rice and then cover with the coconut caramel.  Bake on the top rack of the oven until bubbly and slightly browned.  Let cool and serve at room temperature.