For a country with a culture closely associated with water rice like Vietnam, rice products still hold an important position in the national cuisine. Rice is present in almost daily dishes, from the staple food of Vietnam to numerous varieties of noodle soup (Phở, Bún, Bánh canh, Hủ tiếu…) to traditional cakes namely banh chung, banh day, banh cuon, banh troi,... One more name that is extremely popular is steam sticky rice (Xôi). And a portion of Vietnamese sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves is one of the most special snacks that is so familiar to all Vietnamese.
I - Vietnamese sticky rice recipes
Vietnamese Xôi is not a specific dish but a common name for all foods with the glutinous rice steamed or boiled. Almost all types of Xôi dish are mixed with at least one other ingredient, mostly beans or meats, except the white sticky rice (Xôi nếp).
The process to cook steamed sticky rice is in general not so complicated. The raw glutinous rice is soaked in water for hours or even overnight so that the grains expand to a particular size. Afterward, the rice can be mixed with a little salt and some other ingredients depending on what specific variety it is.
The next step in cooking Vietnamese sticky rice is to steam rice. The cook will prepare an autoclave or Chõ in Vietnamese, and pour water into the bottom. The amount of water must be just enough so that it doesn’t touch the rice above. The autoclave is then carefully capped, put on the stove and boiled under medium heat until the rice is soft, limber and gives out a good smell. During the boiling, avoid opening the cap for many times because it makes the steam get away.
Nowadays, there are many electric cookers with the steaming function invented but Vietnamese people still prefer to cook Xoi in Chõ since it is the best way to attain the original taste of the steamed sticky rice.
Vietnamese sticky rice cooking by the vapor and the heat of the air is a good way to preserve all the nutrients and the sweetness. Therefore, almost every Vietnamese person can serve it and enjoy serving it. Some would rather have it in the morning as breakfast while others like to take it as a main dish for lunch or dinner.
Delicious and edible as it is, Vietnamese steamed sticky rice is hot in nature, according to Oriental medicine, it should not be taken in day by day. Those having problems with digestive system, canker sore, fever, open wound, swelling with pus are advised not to eat this food until their condition is back to normal. Dishes made from glutinous rice, including Xôi should be limited, especially in the evening since it may cause trouble sleeping due to indigestion.
II - Top 10 popular varieties of Vietnamese sticky rice
This delicacy starts from the white steamed sticky rice, the plain rice without any other component. Thanks to the incredible creativity, Vietnamese people come up with several versions, serving the needs of different occasions and the taste of different subjects. The following are 10 ones that are most consumed.
1 - Yellow sticky rice (Xôi xéo)
This is the familiar breakfast of Hanoians. Every early morning, holding a package of yellow sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, tasting the scent of fried onion, fat and ground mung bean reminds them of their childhood. The attractive color of this dish originates from a little turmeric powder added when the rice is soaked. The dish is often eaten with shredded meat, crushed mung bean and sliced sausage.
2 - Mung beans sticky rice - one of the top popular Vietnamese sticky rice
Also combined with mung beans, this variety is different in which the bean is left in whole grain and well mixed with the rice before they are steamed. The resulting dish is very limber, fragrant and eye-catching as well. Thanks to the simple formula, Mung bean sticky rice is frequently present in important feasts of Vietnamese people.
3 - Steamed sticky rice made from green young rice (Xôi cốm)
Green sticky rice - Source: nhipsonghanoi
Xoi com is a special variety of steamed sticky rice because it is not made from glutinous rice but the young green rice, which is often known as Cốm. The premium ingredient combined with coconut milk results in a delicate dish featuring an attractive color and a pleasant flavor. This delicacy is often mixed with sugar, so it is suitable to be eaten for fun rather than for full.
4 - Five-colored sticky rice (Xôi Ngũ sắc) - amongst top special Vietnamese sticky rice
This is a specialty of Tay people, an ethnic group residing in Sapa town, Lao Cai province. It is characterized by 5 different colors symbolizing 5 elements in Oriental perspective: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. Although the colors are very bright and vivid, they all originated from natural plants found in the mountains and forests. The dish not only demonstrates the uniqueness of the local culinary art but also expresses the way of thinking of the indigenous people.
5 - Black bean sticky rice (Xôi đỗ đen)
Glutinous rice has a hot nature, helping warm the stomach while black beans can refresh the body, detoxify and strengthen heart health. Therefore, black bean Vietnamese sticky rice is a nutritious dish, suitable for everyone, and can be used as both breakfast and dinner. In addition, due to its typical color, Xôi đỗ đen is an important part of funerals and death anniversaries.
6 - Vietnamese red sticky rice (Xôi gấc)
Red sticky rice - Source: danviet
Unlike black bean sticky rice, the color of Vietnamese red sticky rice makes it a part and parcel of happy events such as Lunar New Years or weddings. The folks believe that the redder the dish, the luckier things come to their family. The soul of this dish is Gac fruit, the one that you can only find in Southeast Asia countries including Vietnam. When processing, the hard peel is removed while the core is skillfully handled to separate the red flesh from the black hard seeds. That red thing then is mixed with glutinous rice and cooked like a normal one.
7 - Vietnamese coconut sticky rice
Among the top popular Vietnamese sticky rice, coconut sticky rice is one of the most popular types of rice sticky rice in Vietnam. To cook coconut sticky rice, the cook will mix grated coconut with rice already soaked in water for hours and then steam them in a normal way. However, during the steaming, he/she sometimes has to open the cap and stir the mixture. When it is ready to be served, it is necessary to add some white sugar into it and stir one more time then stop the oven. The food is so sweet and tasty that children are really fond of it.
8 - Peanut sticky rice (Xôi lạc)
Just soak glutinous rice and peanut in warm water for a couple of minutes and then mix them well and steam the same way as other kinds of sticky rice dishes, you will have a nice and nutritious breakfast. Peanut sticky rice is tasty and easy to process, thus, it appears almost everywhere in Vietnam, on every occasion and is liked by almost every eater.
9 - Corn sticky rice (Xôi ngô) - famous northern Vietnamese sticky rice
There are two popular types of corn in this country, one made from white corn and the other made from sweet corn. White corn sticky rice is a savory dish with a higher percentage of corn than rice. Essential accompaniments are ground mung bean, fried onion and grease. The sweet corn sticky rice is a sweet dish, of which the sweetness originates from the corn and coconut milk. The final dish is full of fragrance and an amazing feeling when your teeth touch the corn.
10 - Sticky rice sweet gruel (Xôi chè)
Sticky rice with sweet gruel - Source: afamily
Tourists to Hanoi and any countryside in the North of Vietnam are highly likely to come across this Vietnamese sticky rice. The dish features two components: sticky rice mixed with ground mung bean and a bowl of sweet gruel made from Tapioca starch and mung bean. The creative addition of sticky rice, an ingredient which has never been eaten with soup and sweet gruel, also known as sweet soup, can make many people doubt its taste. However, once having a spoon, eaters one more time, are impressed by its freshness. When serving, you should separate the rice and the gruel in 2 different bowls, only adding the rice into the gruel once getting ready to take them in.
Vietnamese sticky rice is a dish with all the ingredients rooted in and closely associated with the agriculture of Vietnamese. However, it follows them anywhere, anytime from childhood to adulthood, from school time to wedding and even funeral. There is no exaggeration to say that this delicacy is a crucial part of the culture of Vietnam.