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Black Sticky Rice Pudding

2 cups whole-grain black sticky rice, sweet rice or glutinous rice
2 cups, or 1 can, coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds or toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Strawberries and mint leaves (optional)

Measure the rice into a bowl; run your fingers through the rice
and check for any pebbles or other noticeable impurities. Rinse
the rice a few times until the water clears. Cover with at least
2 inches of water and allow to soak 4 or more hours, or overnight.

When ready to cook, drain the rice and place in a heat-proof bowl
with room enough for the rice grains to expand about a third more
than its uncooked bulk. Add a small amount of boiling water, just
enough to barely cover the rice grains. Place the bowl on a steamer
rack and steam over medium heat about 30-40 minutes. If you do not
have a steamer, use a large pot in which the bowl fits. Place a
trivet on the bottom along with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a
boil. Balance the bowl with the rice on the trivet and add hot
water to the rice. Cover and steam. Steaming the rice with a small
volume of water will leave the top layer of grains intact, retaining
a chewy texture which pops in your mouth like nuts. If you wish
the rice to be softer, add more water to the rice.

While the rice is steaming, make the coconut sauce by heating the
coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve
the sugar and salt and blend the sauce until smooth. Keep warm.

When the rice is cooked and while still hot out of the steamer,
add about half of the sauce or enough to thoroughly coat the rice.
Stir and mix well. The rice should be wet but not swimming in
sauce. Let stand 15-20 minutes to allow the flavorings to be
absorbed. Reserve the remaining sauce for spooning over the rice
before serving.

The flavored rice can be molded into a round mound on a serving
plate and decorated with toasted sesame seeds and/or coconut shreds,
sliced strawberries and mint leaves for color. Or dish into individual
serving bowls or custard cups, topped with the reserved sauce,
toasted seeds and coconut and a mint leaf.

For a wetter pudding like texture, the rice may alternatively be
cooked by boiling, the same way as you would regular rice. Use 2
1/2 to 3 cups of water to each cup of rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce
heat to simmer and cook partially covered until the grains are
cooked and surrounded by a thick sauce, stirring occasionally to
prevent sticking and burning. Add sugar to sweeten to your liking.
Stir well, cover and place on lowest heat setting for another 5-10
minutes. Make the sauce less sweet but more salty for contrast with
the already sweetened rice. When ready to serve, dish the rice into
individual serving bowls and dribble some sauce over each serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


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