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What is sticky rice?

Sticky rice, also called sweet rice and glutinous rice, is used throughout Asia. This round-grained rice is immediately recognizable by its sticky, gluelike texture when cooked. It is the total or near absence of the starch amylose that makes sticky rice so sticky. Offered in long-grain and short-grain varieties, sticky rice is used in both sweet and savory Chinese dishes and is most often steamed. Sticky rice is more expensive than regular white rice, about double the price.

Other types of rice contain two types of starch—amylose and amylopectin—and the stickiness of the rice depends on the proportion between the two. While a higher amylose content in long-grain white rice (19 to 23 percent) means it will turn out nice and fluffy, the lower amylose content in short-grain white rice (12 to 19 percent) causes the grains to stick together. Sticky rice, on the other hand, contains a maximum of 1 percent amylose and a very high concentration of amylopectin, making it very sticky when cooked.

Sticky rice is used in a variety of dishes, including desserts, as a stuffing in duck, and in dumplings such as shumai and zongzi. While most recipes call for steaming or boiling the sticky rice, it can also be stir-fried or cooked like Italian risotto.

Published Date: August 26, 2023

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