Learn About Laotian Dish Khao Niew

What is Khao Niew?


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Sticky rice, also known as Khao Niew, is a common ingredient in Laotian cuisine. Glutinous rice is used to prepare this sticky rice dish, cooked in water until it becomes sticky and gooey. In many restaurants across the US, it is typically served with chicken or pork (Laap).

You will typically have the option to order Khao Niew with any meat or grain dish you order in Laotian restaurants if you want to eat it traditionally. This item is usually served with meals in Laos, making it the most popular food item there. It is also regarded as Laos’ national dish because of this! 

What Makes It Unique? 

In the North and Northeast of Thailand, putting raw sticky rice grains in a pot, covering them with water, and leaving them to soak is frequently the last thing people do before they go to bed. A day without sticky rice is almost unthinkable in this region as they are known for their sticky rice.

Its starch composition differs from varieties like jasmine rice, which is also known as glutinous rice. Cooked sticky rice’s glossy grains are chewy and stick together in clumps while remaining distinct.

This staple is somewhat magical as the grains of sticky rice can be served in baskets meant to be passed around. A seasoned diner will instinctively take a piece of food the size of a gumball, shape it into a spoon, and use it to sample other foods on the table. Workers bring this portable, edible rice into the fields and forests in these baskets or bamboo tubes.

While you could argue that supposedly “steamed jasmine rice” is boiled rather than steam-cooked, sticky rice is steam-cooked. It is typically prepared in a clay pot with a perforated bottom in the North; in the Northeast, it is generally prepared in a bamboo basket. Today, the pot is frequently made of aluminum. The grains, already swollen from soaking, are cooked in just 15 minutes or so when the basket or pot is placed over a pot-bellied vessel filled with boiling water. Cooks who lack experience can complete the process with ease. To get it right, you need a little practice.

What You Need To Know About Khao Niew:

1. You can easily make this at home

Khao Niew is a versatile food that can be enjoyed as a quick meal or complement to other dishes. It’s an excellent choice for busy individuals as the ingredients can easily be found in most supermarkets in the US.

The usual ingredients include a fine-mesh strainer, cheesecloth or a clean mesh rice-steaming bag, an inexpensive sticky rice steamer set that already has both the woven basket and pot-bellied pot, and at least 4 cups of uncooked Thai sticky rice is also called “glutinous” or “sweet” rice. 

To prepare sticky rice, put it in a large bowl and cover it with a thin layer of warm tap water. Allow it to soak for at least 4 hours, but up to 10 hours, in a cool kitchen. If time is limited, it can be soaked in hot tap water for as little as 2 hours.

After discarding the soaking water, place a fine-mesh strainer inside a large bowl and add the rice. Cover the rice with 1-2 inches of cool tap water. Gently stir the rice with your hand and remove the strainer from the bowl. The rice starch will make the water in the bowl cloudy. Repeat the process of emptying the bowl, straining the rice, and adding fresh water until the water is clear. Usually, 2-3 water changes are sufficient. Rinse the rice.

The next step is to add water to the sticky rice steamer pot to a depth of about 2 inches. Using high heat, bring it to a boil. Either put the rice in the mesh bag and put the bag in the basket, or put two layers of damp cheesecloth in the woven steamer basket and put the rice on the cheesecloth. Fold the cheesecloth or bag so it covers the rice, and pat the bundle to spread the rice out into a more or less even layer; wrap the bundle in a clean, damp kitchen towel or pot lid.

After this, you can set the basket into the pot with reduced heat to maintain a steady but not ferocious boil. About 15 minutes of cooking should be enough to thoroughly tenderize the grains while keeping them chewy (almost springy) and without becoming mushy. Lastly, you can transfer the rice to a large bowl covered with a plate or a small cooler. Wait about 15 minutes before beginning. For about an hour, the sticky rice will remain warm. Sticky rice can be successfully reheated in the microwave. You can cover it, cook it on low, and serve it immediately.

2. It’s chewier but also more delicious than regular rice 


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Sticky rice is chewier than regular white grain or jasmine rice. You can pair it with another large entree or dipped in another dish because of its bland flavor. It is delicious but requires more chewing than regular rice, similar to eating gummy worms.

According to science, sticky rice is sticky because it contains less amylose than its long-grain white rice and jasmine rice counterparts. In comparison to other rice, sticky rice has about 4% less amylose, making it extremely sticky when cooked. It also has a higher sugar content, which contributes to its stickiness.

3. It has a high nutritional content


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Indisputable sources of carbohydrates are found in Lao sticky rice. Like most things, it’s okay to consume in moderation. Even though sticky rice is frequently called “glutinous rice,” it contains no gluten, making it suitable for those with celiac disease.

It contains more calories than regular rice and takes the body much longer to digest. Like most carbohydrate consumers, if you overeat sticky rice, you might feel sluggish and want to nap.

4. Khao Niew can be found not only in Laos 

Because they are neighbors, Thailand’s northeastern region also consumes sticky rice, typically eaten in Laos. A significant aspect of Laotian and Northeastern Thai cultures is that sticky rice has been around for over 4,000 years.

Other nations like China, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Vietnam consume sticky rice frequently. The lowlands and the highlands of Laos’s countryside are used to cultivate sticky rice. Unlike white rice, sticky rice can be harvested in more locations because it needs less water to grow. Buddhist monks eat only one meal daily, so people often donate sticky rice to keep the monks fuller for longer.