I first tasted mango sticky rice while traveling in Southern Thailand on a climbing trip. One day, as I perused the market in Phi Phi Don, an island in the region, I came across a woman at a food stall selling vibrant sliced mango served atop sticky rice. The fruit and grains were wrapped in a banana leaf for easy eating. I purchased one and took a bite. The floral notes of the mango along with its acidity complemented the sweetness of the coconut cream. The rice granules created a perfect mouthfeel. It was delicious.
Though it originated in Thailand, this dish is a popular dessert throughout Southeast Asia. I’ve continued to enjoy mango sticky rice since my travels, especially as a sweet snack while spending time outdoors. Turns out, it’s a packable dish that’s as good for a picnic spread as it is for quick energy while paddling or hiking.
Plus, it’s nutritious. Mangos are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The coconut cream is high in healthy fats, which provide energy to keep you moving. It’s also an excellent source of potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramping. And the glutinous rice is rich in carbohydrates—perfect for refueling your muscles’ glycogen stores, which aid in recovery.
If you’re intolerant to gluten, don’t worry—there’s no gluten in Thai glutinous rice, sometimes called sticky rice or sweet rice. “Glutinous” refers to the sticky nature of the grain, which helps it stay together. Traditionally, the rice is steamed, but you can opt to cook it in a pot as I did for this recipe. You can also sub sushi rice, short-grain rice or sweet rice, though Thai glutinous rice has a sweeter flavor and stickier texture compared to other grains.
Everything about this snack is a win for a day of movement. Give it a try!
Mango Sticky Rice
Serves 4 people | Gluten-free, vegan
- 1 cup Thai glutinous rice (You can find Thai glutinous rice in Asian markets and online.)
- ¾ cup cold water
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 tsp coconut sugar
- Pinch sea salt
- ¼ cup coconut cream
- 1 mango, sliced
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
Rinse the rice five times, or until the water runs clear, to remove excess starch.
Place the rice in a pot. Add the cold water and coconut milk and bring to a simmer on the stove. Continue simmering until the liquid is at the same level as the rice.
Next, place a lid on the pot, leaving a 1-inch crack so the liquid can continue to slowly evaporate. Once all the liquid has evaporated, the rice should be tender and cooked through. If it’s still undercooked, simply remove the pan from the heat, cover it completely with the lid and allow it to sit for five minutes.
Once the rice is cooked and while it’s still hot, thoroughly mix in the coconut sugar, coconut cream and salt.
Let the rice cool. Scoop out ⅓ cup of the rice mixture and top with sliced mango and sesame seeds. Wrap in individual pieces of wax paper.