Monday, December 03, 2007

Black sticky rice.

Yesterday, after loading up our shopping bags with fresh vegetables, Bordeaux and I came across an old couple selling black sticky rice at the Khlong Toei Market. I had first seen black sticky rice in Chiang Mai, during a market tour taken with my cooking class. Black sticky rice (kao niow dhom), or purple sticky rice as it is also called in English, is unhulled; the dark pigment of the hull bleeds in cooking, giving the rice its deep crimson color. I encountered it again among the markets of Laos; and though I ate countless balls of white sticky rice during my journey along the Mekong, I never got to try black sticky rice. So, more out of curiosity than hunger, Bordeaux and I bought a bag.

Our black sticky rice was scooped into a plastic bag, and topped with a quarter-inch slab of caramel colored custard. Together, they created an interesting combination of textures and flavors: smooth and coarse, sweet and wheaty. The rice actually tasted best on its own, as the hull that gives it its color also gives it a grainy flavor that white sticky rice is lacking. The difference in taste between white sticky rice and black sticky rice is less like the difference between white rice and brown rice, and more like the difference between white rice and it's non-relative wild rice. I will definitely keep an eye out for black sticky rice again in the future, and I would love to see if I can find it in any savory dishes, where I imagine its grainy flavor would serve it well.

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