The 7 Best Asian Sticky Rice Dishes

Glutinous Rice Dishes From Thailand, China, and Japan

Asian sticky rice might look like regular old white rice, but it behaves quite differently — and that makes it perfect for certain recipes that are better when the rice clumps together. Sticky rice is officially named "glutinous rice," though it's a bit of a misnomer, given that there's not any gluten in it. It does contain amylopectin, a component of starch that gives the rice its sticky nature.

  • 01 of 07

    Pearl Balls

    Chinese style glutinous rice ball
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    The sticky rice, which turns a pearly color when cooked, is what makes this dish able to clump into little balls. While the preparation and cooking time for the Pearl Balls is under an hour, be sure to allow several hours for soaking the glutinous rice. The easiest method is simply to soak it overnight. Add ground pork, green onion, and water chestnuts and enjoy them dipped in soy sauce.

  • 02 of 07

    Lotus Leaf Wraps (Lo Mai Gai)

    Lotus leaf rice
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    Guests won't expect this popular dim sum dish to show up on your dinner table. Find lotus leaves in an Asian market, which you then steam and fill with sticky rice, mushrooms, chicken and Chinese sausages. It looks impressive but actually doesn't require much hands-on time to make.

  • 03 of 07

    Peanut Sticky Rice

    Sticky rice with mango
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    Peanuts are simmered with sweet sticky rice and coconut milk in this Vietnamese recipe, which is traditionally served for breakfast. Garnish it with shredded coconut, crushed peanuts, and sesame seeds to your taste.

  • 04 of 07

    Japanese Sweet Rice Balls

    Ohagi botamochi recipe

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

    These Japanese sweet rice balls are cooked during the higan periods of spring and autumn in Japan, leading to the two different names: Ohagi is named for an autumn flower, and botamochi is named for a spring flower. The recipe uses anko, which is sweet azuki bean paste, as well as walnuts, black sesame seeds, and soybean powder.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Japanese Rice Cake Soup

    Japanese rice cake soup

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    In Japan, glutinous rice is pounded to make mochi or rice cakes that are used in a number of different ways. In this recipe, the rice cakes are added to soup to make ozoni or zoni. Each serving of ozoni soup has a large piece of the mochi rice cake. The recipes differ from family to family, but this one includes dried kelp, carrots, daikon, and mizuna. More vegetables can be added, including shiitake mushrooms, lotus root, or spinach.

  • 06 of 07

    Sticky Rice Dessert With Coconut and Pandan

    Sticky Rice Coconut Padan
    Getty Images

    This Thai-inspired dish can be made in advance and will please guests who are on a gluten-free or dairy-free diet. It doesn't require anything but a stovetop, as there is no baking or steaming, but it sits overnight in your refrigerator to firm up. You can find the pandan essence flavoring in tiny bottles at Asian food stores. Serve it cold or warm, topped with coconut milk or fresh fruit.

  • 07 of 07

    Laotian Sticky Rice With Durian

    Durian fruit
    simonlong / Getty Images

    This interesting dessert from Laos uses the pungent durian fruit. To make Khao Niao Thu Lien, steam sticky rice with coconut milk and mix it with the flesh of the durian fruit. Served it with extra coconut milk, which is poured around the fruit-and-rice mixture.