how to steam sticky rice

In Thailand we soak and steam sticky rice if served as plain rice (traditionally along some side dishes).


Remind, sticky, sweet or glutinous rice all refer to the same kind of rice and because of a different starch composition, soaking sticky rice before steaming is essential so the rice grains can absorb enough water.

You can line a finely woven, breathable cloth in a sieve and have it rest over a large pot with steaming water, but at home I use a Lao-style bamboo basket and steamer.

Another option worth considering, is a stainless steel steamer. Thanks to its fitting lid the whole process becomes easier. Steaming time is around 40 minutes as well. 

more info on Glutinous (sticky) rice and amylose/amylopectin levels

Put 2 cups of sticky rice in a container covered with 2-3 inches of water. Soak for at least 6 hours up to an overnight.


Either place the soaked rice directly in the bamboo basket or line a finely woven, breathable cloth (cheesecloth) into the bamboo basket (or sieve) and place the soaked rice in the cloth.


Cover with lid.

Pour about 0.9 gallon (3.3 liter) of boiling water into a large steamer pot and place the bamboo basket over it.


Make sure that the water doesn't touch the basket.

Steam for 40 minutes.

Taste. To avoid the texture to be too crunchy, pour a cup of hot water over the rice. Don't use cold water as this would harden the grain. Shake the bamboo basket a few times and steam for another 10 minutes. 

Taste again. At this point it should be fluffy and soft. Turn off the heat.

Serving sticky rice in a small basket is a pure joy!  


Pick up a bit of rice (by hand, the rice won't stickand gently squeeze before dipping into a sauce or adding a piece of meat or salad.

One more tip: keep the rice covered, warm and moist until serving.