When dawn breaks, one can easily catch sight of xôi vendors on the city street corners in Vietnam. Xôi - served on a lush banana leaf - is a popular carb-rich Vietnamese fast-food breakfast. It's cheap, convenient, simple, delicious and more importantly filling. Due to its popularity, xôi is not only serve in the morning but throughout the day.
Xôi or sweet sticky rice is mainly made from glutinous rice and can be served with several savory topping combo including beans, peanuts, fruits, coconut, sausage, pork ham and more. As a kid, one of my favorite xôi was black bean sticky rice topped with fresh shredded coconut and roasted crush peanut. It's a perfect blend of salt and sugar - the wonderful natural mild sweetness of the warm sticky rice mixed with the soft and creamy cooked black bean wrapped in a lush banana leaf.
One of the xôi dishes that I created recently is xôi cà rốt - carrot sticky rice with a hint of coconut fragrance. It can be served with shredded young coconut along with sweet and salty roasted peanuts as the toppings. I also like to serve with such dishes as roasted, grilled, or deep fried poultry.
The traditional and proper tools to cook sticky rice is soaking the glutinous rice for at least two hours or overnight until the grains have absorbed enough water. Excess water needs to be drained before steaming in the bamboo basket or steamer so that the grains can remain as a whole, soft but not mushy, sticking together in a lump. But if you're going to cook just a small batch of it, a rice cooker would work just fine. Once you have decided on these alternative methods, I'm sure you'll be sticking to it for a while.
RECIPE: Xôi Cà Rốt
4 cups Glutinous Rice
2 cups Baby Carrots
3 1/2 cups Water
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Coconut Cream
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/2 bag Shredded Coconut
6 tablespoons Sesame Seeds or Peanuts
4 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
In a blender, puree carrots and water until smooth. Use a strainer to separate the juice from carrots residue. Use a spoon to press the carrot residue down to extract all the juice. Discard the carrot residue. Make 3 1/2 cups. Add salt and stir well. Set aside.
Preparing Coconut Cream
In a small mixing bowl, combine coconut cream and sugar. Mix well. Set aside.
Cooking Glutinous Rice
Rinse the sweet rice a few times until the water runs clear. Drain the water completely. Transfer rice and carrot juice to 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’. Add coconut cream mixture. 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.
Preparing Sesame Seeds
In a frying pan, roast sesame seeds or peanuts 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.
Combine roasted sesame seeds, sugar and salt and mix well. Set aside.
Place carrot sticky rice on a plate or a banana leaf. Sprinkle a generous amount of sesame seed mixture over it. Top with shredded coconut then sprinkle a little more of sesame seeds mixture.