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Sweet Rice with Mangoes

Sweet Rice with Mangoes
In Southeast Asia, long, pliable banana leaves are used for wrapping foods before cooking to help keep the foods moist. The leaves are also used to create decorations for serving platters. Banana leaves are usually sold frozen. To use them for decoration, defrost them at room temperature, wipe them with a damp cloth, and use scissors to cut them into shapes, such as stars, triangles, diamonds or crescent moons. Place the shapes, shiny side up, on plates and rub lightly with canola oil.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup glutinous rice

For sauce one:

  • 1⁄2 cup coconut milk
  • 1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 pinches of salt

For sauce two:

  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 24-inch piece banana leaf, wiped clean and
     cut into 6 decorative shapes (optional)
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds, toasted

Directions:

A day ahead, in a bowl, combine the rice and 6 cups water and let soak at room temperature overnight. Drain the rice once at the midway point and re-cover with 6 cups fresh water.

The next day, pour water to a depth of 3 inches into a steamer pan. Line the steamer tray with a 20-inch square of cheesecloth. Drain the rice and spread in the lined tray. Place the tray in the steamer pan and set the steamer over high heat. Bring the water to a boil, drape the overhanging cheesecloth loosely over the rice, cover and steam for 20 minutes. Remove the tray of rice from the steamer and lift out the rice-filled cheesecloth packet. Reline the steamer tray with clean cheesecloth and invert the half-cooked rice back into the steamer tray. Drape the rice with the new cheesecloth, cover and steam over high heat until the rice kernels are tender, about 20 minutes more.

Meanwhile, to make sauce one, in a saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut milk, granulated sugar and salt and bring to a low simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. To make sauce two, in a separate saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut cream and palm sugar and heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let both sauces cool to room temperature.

Line 6 small ramekins with 8-inch squares of plastic wrap. Transfer the rice to a bowl. Using a spatula, gradually mix in sauce one. Divide the rice among the ramekins, pressing down to distribute it evenly, and cover with the plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 2 hours; do not refrigerate.

Place a banana leaf shape on a plate. Fold back the plastic wrap on a ramekin and invert onto the leaf. Lift off the ramekin and peel off the plastic. Repeat with the remaining ramekins. Garnish each with 3 or 4 mango slices, drizzle with 2 Tbs. of sauce two and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Pass the remaining sauce at the table.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Asian, by Farina Wong Kingsley (Simon & Schuster, 2003).