• Sesame balls with red bean paste filling (Andrew Dorn)Source: Andrew Dorn
From flavour-packed dim sum parcels to luxe, chewy desserts.
3 Mar 2021 - 5:42 PM  UPDATED 25 Feb 2021 - 2:50 PM

--- Diana Chan is bringing the wonder of Asian cuisine to your homes in the second series of Asia Unplated with Diana Chan, Thursdays at 8pm on SBS Food and streaming on SBS On Demand. ---


Glutinous aka sticky rice (despite the name, no gluten, just the ability to go gloriously rich and sticky) is a staple in sweet and savoury dishes in many parts of Asia, used whole or as rice flour. Here are a handful of ways to get your chewy fix.

Glutinous rice parcels with pork (lo mai gai)

These steamed sticky rice parcels are stuffed with a umami-rich mushroom and pork filling and served with spring onion vinegar. If you can't get your hands on dried lotus leaves, baking paper will work as a substitute. 

Full of flavour, each parcel is wrapped like a gift.

Sticky rice with chicken and sausage (xoi man)

"Xoi is the name for a whole suite of sweet and savoury Vietnamese dishes made using sticky rice," says Leanne Kitchen of her recipe for a Vietnamese-style rice and chicken dish. "Often these are served for breakfast as a filling main dish but some types are simple snacks, wrapped in paper and eaten on the run; toppings include coconut, steamed dried beans, peanuts and taro. Similar to Chinese stir-fried sticky rice, this example of xoi is a ‘one-pot’ dish that makes a great easy dinner."

Sticky rice with chicken and sausage.

Peanut mochi

Japan's mochi, delightfully chewy, mellow little pillows of rice-based dough often filled with nut, seed or sweet bean mixtures, get their name from mochigome, a particular strain of glutinous rice. Traditionally, the cooked rice is pounded to make the dough but glutinous rice flour mixed with water can be used instead. 

Magenta sticky rice with sweet coconut and mango

Warm, vibrantly coloured rice dyed with magenta flowers is served up with a sweet-salty peanut and sesame mix, fresh mango and sweetened coconut milk in this recipe from Luke Nguyen.

Magenta sticky rice

Sesame balls with red bean paste filling (Jian dui)

These golden fried sweets, from Asia Unplated with Diana Chan, are made with glutinous rice flour. The dough is filled with sweet red bean paste, typical of Asian desserts. You'll find these jian dui at almost any Chinese bakery, sometimes also filled with a sweet yellow mung bean paste.

Sesame balls with red bean paste filling

Black sticky rice creams

Black sticky rice is an especially vibrant form, turning a deep purple colour when cooked. In this dessert, black rice is cooked in coconut cream then layered in ramekins with a creamy custard before baking. Serve with coconut flakes and palm sugar syrup. 

Black rice breakfast with tropical fruit

Inspired by various Asian dishes - "It is not faithful to any one country, but is delightful all the same.," says Caroline Griffiths - this stiking breakfast bowl can be topped with whatever you like - fresh fruit, coconut flakes, lime zest, seeds or nuts. 

Black rice breakfast with tropical fruit

Sweet sticky rice with fruit, nuts and honey (yaksik)

Yaksik is a Korean sweet traditionally served at weddings and hwangab (60th birthday) celebrations. Chestnuts (you can use fresh or canned), sugar, dates, raisins, pinenuts and sticky rice come together in this version. 

Sweet sticky rice with fruit, nuts and honey

Chocolate rice pudding (tsamporado)

In the Philippines, traditional chocolate rice pudding, tsamporado, is enjoyed at breakfast by kids and adults alike. In this recipe, cocoa is used to flavour the rice while dark chocolate is sprinkled on top and drizzled with condensed milk.

Tsamporado is often enjoyed for breakfast.

Ondeh ondeh

A recipe shared from Destination Flavour Singapore, these are made with white sweet potato, glutinous rice flour and pandan juice and filled with palm sugar, then rolled in coconut.

Mango and sticky rice (kao niaw mamuang)

This recipe from David Thompson for a classic Thai dessert is served with mango, but if they aren't in season try sliced sugar bananas in stead. 

Thailand's addictive dessert, mango and sticky rice

Sticky rice balls with lemon honey (ggul tteok)

These strikingly pink sticky rice balls are served chilled, drizzled in sugar, honey and lemon syrup. 

Gluten-free wholegrain and chia bread

And one last recipe to show the versatility of sticky rice flour: A clever combination of sweet glutinous rice flour and other gluten-free flours, along with psyllium husks and chia seeds, creates a bread with stucture and flexibility despite the lack of gluten. "This bread is almost the complete opposite of most commercially made gluten-free bread - wonderfully substantial (it won’t ‘dissolve’ in your mouth), moist and flavoursome without containing any gums," says Anneka Manning. 

Gluten-free wholegrain and chia bread

more sticky situations
10 ways with sticky rice
Long, short, black and white - sticky (glutinous) rice is no ordinary rice. Its chewy texture lends itself to sweet snacks and desserts; not to mention, immediately transporting you to Southeast Asia.
Mung bean and coconut doughnuts

These doughnuts are a delight of textures - a crispy outer shell surrounding a springy glutinous rice dough, with a delicious sweet mung bean ball at the centre.

Onde onde (glutinous rice balls)

Poh creates an Asian version of macarons with these chewy rainbow-coloured Malaysian snacks featuring surprise fillings.

Spiced tuna and sticky rice in banana leaf

This is a fishy version of lemper ayam, a popular street food in Indonesia made using shredded, cooked chicken, which you can use in this recipe instead of the tuna.

Savoury zong (sticky rice cake)

"Zong, or joong in Cantonese, is a pyramid-shaped glutinous rice cake or dumpling with Chinese origins. Whilst the outer layer always consists of sticky rice, the filling can vary a great deal depending on region and country, since many South-East Asian cultures have adopted a version of this dish.

"When the capital of his beloved Chu kingdom was overrun by a neighbouring state, the famous patriot and poet Qu Yuan of the Warring states period was overcome by grief and drowned himself in the Miluo River. To prevent the fish from eating his body, parcels of rice were thrown into the river as a diversion." Christina YeowPoh & Co.

Sweet purple potato rice cakes (purple potato mochi)

This delicious recipe is for sweet - and bright - Japanese rice and purple potato cakes. You can substitute other leaves for the shell ginger, but it will affect the mochi’s distinctive floral and herbal aroma.

Sticky rice

Steamed sticky rice is traditionally cooked in conical bamboo baskets, banana leaves or sometimes even in hollow bamboo stalks, but you can easily steam it in a domestic steamer basket.