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Facts on Glutinous Rice

Glutinous rice, also called sticky rice, sweet rice, sushi rice, waxy rice, botan rice, mochi rice, Japanese rice, and pearl rice, is the main type of rice grown and consumed by the Lao of Laos and Northeast Thailand, areas which are considered to be the primary center of origin and domestication of Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.). It has been cultivated in this area for 4,000 years. An estimated 85% of Lao rice production is of this type. Despite the misleading name, glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and thus in theory should be safe for gluten-free diets. The word glutinous, meaning glue-like or sticky, comes from the Latin glutinosus. The term glutinous rice refers to rice having no (or negligible amounts of) amylose, and high amounts of amylopectin, the two components of starch. Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky quality of glutinous rice.

In Thai, Lao and Isan, sticky rice is kao neaw: "kao" means rice, and "neaw" means sticky.

The improved rice varieties that swept through Asia during the Green Revolution were non-glutinous types and Lao farmers rejected them in favor of their traditional sticky varieties. Gradually though, improved higher-yield strains of sticky rice became available from the Laotian National Rice Research Program. By 1999, more than 70% of the area along the Mekong River Valley was of the newer strains.

Laotian / Isan traditions
Sticky rice is usually served in a small basket made out of bamboo; the fingers of the right hand are used to eat it by wadding the rice. Two of the most popular dishes are gai yaang and tam mak hung. Gai yaang is grilled chicken, while tam mak hung is a spicy papaya salad.

Kao neaw is also eaten with desserts. Kao neaw moon is Kao neaw steamed with coconut milk that can be served with ripened mango or durian. And kao neaw kluay is banana and kao neaw steamed together, usually with coconut milk.

Chinese traditions
The Chinese have adopted sticky rice as part of their diet, mostly in seasonal or holiday-related foods. For example, zongzi is a Chinese dumpling consisting of sticky rice and fillings steamed in leaves, usually eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. Lo mai gai is a parcel of sticky rice and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed. It is served as a dim sum dish in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Sticky rice is also often ground to make glutinous rice flour. This flour is then made into niangao and sweet filled dumplings tangyuan, both of which are commonly eaten at Chinese new year. It also sometimes used as a thickener and for baking.

Japanese traditions
In Japan, glutinous rice is known as mochigome. It is used to make mochi, a traditional rice cake typically eaten during the Japanese New Year.

Korean traditions
In Korea, glutinous rice is called chapssal, and its characteristic stickiness is called chalgi. Cooked rice made of glutinous rice is called chalbap, and rice cakes similar to Japanese mochi are called chapssalddeok. Chalbap is used as stuffing in samgyetang.

Vietnamese traditions
Sticky rice, known as xoi (cooked) or nep (uncooked) in Vietnamese, is most typically eaten during each full moon as offerings. It is also common during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year.

Thai traditions
Thai people also use toasted sticky rice (kao kua) to add a nut like flavor to many dishes.

Filipino traditions
In the Philippines, sticky rice is mixed with sugar and cooked in banana leaves to produce "suman" - the most popular version topped with "bukayo": grated coconut cooked in sugar. Other regions eat suman as a snack with ripe mangoes or bananas.


  Copyright © 2006 Andy's Market. This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Glutinous Rice".

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