Growing up with an Asian mum, I have a special place in my heart for sticky rice. It has a characteristic chewiness and fragrance that just makes it so darned good. This recipe is based on xôi, a Vietnamese sticky rice dish. There are sweet and savoury types of xôi, with sticky rice being the constant. Some versions are common for breakfast but the heft of this dish makes it an ideal – and easy – dinner. Try it and you’ll love it, promise.
3 cups (600g / 1 lb 5 oz) sticky (glutinous) rice
1/3 cup dried shrimp
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g (9 oz) lap cheong Chinese sausage, thinly sliced on a slight diagonal
5 Asian red shallots, thinly sliced
600g (1 lb 5 oz) chicken thigh fillets, cut into bitesize pieces
1½ tbsp fish sauce
1½ tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
2-3 spring onions (scallions), trimmed, finely sliced on the diagonal, to serve
roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews, roughly chopped, to serve
¼ cup fish sauce
2½ tbsp rice vinegar
1½ tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
1 red birdseye chilli, finely sliced
Soak the rice for 3-4 hours or overnight, then drain well. Line a steamer insert with cheesecloth or a clean tea towel, then fit into a large saucepan of water. Bring the water to the boil, then place the rice inside the lined insert, making sure it’s in an even layer over the cloth (take care as the steam can burn). Bring the edges of the cloth over the rice. Cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, then cook the rice for about 20 minutes or until tender. Remove the rice and set aside. (Alternatively, if your rice cooker has a steamer basket and sticky rice setting, place the cloth-covered rice in the steamer. Fill the bowl of your rice cooker ⅓ full with water. Place the steamer in the bowl. Press the lid closed and select the Sticky Rice function and press start.)
Meanwhile, soak the dried shrimp in boiling water to cover for 30 minutes, or until softened, then drain well.
For the dipping sauce, combine the fish sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring continuously, to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, remove from the heat, cool, then stir in the remaining ingredients.
Heat half the oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the Chinese sausage and shallots. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the shallots are softened and the sausage is rendering some fat. Add the chicken and stir-fry for another 3-4 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked. Go in with the drained shrimp, fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar, and toss to combine. Stir-fry for another minute or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn off the heat and set aside until your sticky rice has finished cooking.
Once cooked, divide the sticky rice among serving plates or bowls. Top with the chicken mixture, spooning over any extra sauce in the bottom of the wok. Scatter over the spring onion and peanuts. Serve with the dipping sauce on the side to spoon over as you eat.