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Monday, January 19, 2015

Xôi Lá Dứa (Pandan Sticky Rice)

Though I am a stay-at-home mom, I always look forward to the weekend to spend more quality time with my family.  It's a blessing to be able to wake up in the morning and take my time to prepare an authentic Vietnamese breakfast and have my girls and husband sniffed out what kind of  food I'm about to feed them. No matter how busy our day may be, at the end of each day, it's wonderful to hold each other's hands, give thanks for what we have, and enjoy our meal together.  Our weekend breakfast is no exception.

Xôi (sticky rice or sweet rice) is one of the simply irresistible dishes that I often serve for breakfast. It can be as simple and quick as cooking a pot of regular rice in a rice cooker. Yesterday, while xôi lá dứa (pandan sticky rice) was steaming in the cooker,  my husband took a break from yard work only to find himself surrounded by the sweet aroma that was wafting through the house. The wonderfully subtle and inviting fragrance of pandan and sweet rice is simply irresistible.  Hence, pandan is throughout Southeast Asian cuisines and in many of the desserts. One of the Asian cuisine focused chef tweeted it this way: "Pandan leaves are to vanilla what silk is to cotton".

This delicious xôi lá dứa - cooked with pandan juice that I extracted from the pandan leaves -  hints of notes of roses, almond, and vanilla. To top it off, add fresh shaved or shredded coconut and sprinkled with crushed roasted peanuts or sesame seeds. And voila! What you have before you on your plate is an exotic breakfast!
RECIPE: Xôi Lá Dứa
yields: 8-10 servings


for Rice
4 cups glutinous rice
3 1/2 cups water
20 frozen or fresh Pandan Leaves
1/4 teaspoon Pandan Paste, optional
1/2 teaspoon Salt
for Topping
1/2 bag Shredded Coconut
6 tablespoons Sesame Seeds 
4 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt

Extracting Pandan Juice

Cut pandan leaves into about 3 inch segments. Place pandan leaves with water in a Vita mix or any blender and blend it until finely.

Strain the juice with a strainer. Use a spoon to press the pandan residue down to extract all the juice. Discard the pandan residue. 

Measure 3 1/2 cups of pandan juice. Add pandan paste, and salt to the pandan juice and mix well.  

pandan paste

The purpose of adding pandan paste is to bring out the vibrant green color of the rice.  Omit it if prefer.  Set aside.
Cooking Sweet Rice

Rinse sweet rice a few times until water is clear. Drain. Pour the rice, and pandan juice in a rice cooker.  Stir to combine all ingredients well.  

Set rice cooker to ‘Cook’.  Allow to cook until the button switches over to ‘Keep Warm’. Stir the rice.  Cover and let it cook for another 10 -15 minutes to ensure the sweet rice is cooked evenly. 

Steaming Shredded Coconut

Since the shredded coconut I bought is frozen so I like to steam it before serving.  If using fresh shredded coconut which you can shred it straight from a mature coconut, steaming it is not necessary.  
Roasting Sesame Seeds

In a frying pan, roast sesame seeds on a medium low heat until golden.  Let it cool down.  Place sesame seeds in a ziploc and slightly crush it to release the nutty aroma of sesame seeds. 

Mixing Sweet and Salty Sesame Seeds

Combine roasted sesame seeds, sugar and salt and mix well. Set aside.


Place pandan sticky rice on a plate.  Sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seed mixture over it.  Top with shredded coconut then sprinkle a little more of sesame seed mixture. 

Ăn ngon! Enjoy!

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