Recipe: Thai Mango Sticky Rice

Recipes

This recipe is pretty special to me. When I first started dating my boyfriend, he told me his favourite dessert was mango sticky rice.

It’s a super simple concept – steamed sticky rice with sweet coconut flavour, topped with a creamy coconut sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds, and served with a side of very sweet, very ripe mango. It’s the perfect dessert for anyone who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, isn’t a fan of the traditional “baked-goods”, or needs a dairy-free dessert. It sounds like a light, refreshing dish, but it’s actually quite rich and filling. The recipe is written to serve 2 with just 1/2 cup of rice – and trust me, it’s enough!

It’s also a bit tricky to get just right. It needs to be sweet, but lightly sweet, not cloying. It needs a hint of salt that you can just taste on the afterthought, to round out the flavour. The rice on its own shouldn’t be dry and fluffy, but silky smooth – but not wet, either.

The best thing about this dish is how easy it is to get creative with it!

Two years ago, when my boyfriend asked if I wanted to try making it, he made an off-handed comment that if I could actually get it right, he’d marry me. Okay, at 21, I was hardly sprinting to the altar, but I really liked him and wanted to keep him around, so I buckled down and did some research into it. I love studying food and recipes, and with the tremendous cultural presence that mango sticky rice has, it was such an interesting dive into Thailand’s food history and culinary techniques. I referenced as many “authentic” recipes as I could find, and even drew from several videos without English subtitles, to compile steps that were as straightforward, foolproof, and cost-effective as possible.

It’s pretty important to mention that cost is a huge factor in my cooking. Most of the time it’s far from the kind of glamorous cooking where I have sixteen little bowls to perfect the mise en place and lay out all my artisanal utensils on my white marble countertop. So the first few times we made this, I was steaming the rice using a neolithic combination of a saucepan, tin foil, and a microwave cover because I didn’t have a proper steamer. (Unsurprisingly, I still don’t.) I boiled water in the saucepan, pulled a sheet of tin foil tightly over it, which I had punctured in multiple places with a toothpick (to let the steam reach the rice). The rice sat (very, very carefully) on top of that tin foil, right atop the boiling water, and then I covered it all with a microwave cover to keep the steam contained.

I’ve somewhat upgraded … to using a vegetable steamer on a saucepan of boiling water.
I still used a microwave cover (albeit a nicer one now) to trap the steam.

So to give the story its happy ending: the mango sticky rice turned out beautifully, boyfriend was very happy, and I lived to see another day in this precarious relationship (just kidding). Here’s an old photo from that night, two years back, when we made it together for the first time:

Such a sunny and bright dessert – literally looks like edible happiness! ♡

Since then, I’ve made it a few more times, and I’ve made little tweaks and adjustments to make it even better and easier. Just some tips to keep in mind:

  • less sugar is always better than more. This dessert is meant to have a light sweetness. I listed a range (2-3 tbsp) so stay on the lower end if you’re unsure.
  • buy some quality coconut milk and coconut cream for this. As a general rule in cooking: the fewer the ingredients, the more their individual quality matters for the outcome.
  • wait to slice the mango right before serving.
  • when you mix the rice with the coconut milk, it’ll look far too wet at first. THAT’S OKAY. Let it chill out on the countertop, covered with a tea towel or paper towel, and sit on your hands for a bit. When you check back in 15 minutes, the rice will have absorbed the excess liquid. Like this:
On the left – immediately after mixing.
On the right – after 15 min. of waiting.

Check the bottom of the recipe for more notes!

Thai Mango Sticky Rice

Makes 2 servings

  • 1/2 cup sweet rice (also glutinous rice)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk*)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • sesame seeds
  • ripe mango, peeled
  1. Steam the rice for 20 minutes in total, flipping the rice at the 10-minute mark. (Just open the lid, use a fork or spatula to turn the rice over, and cover it again.)
  2. In a small saucepan on low heat, add the coconut milk, sugar, and salt. Warm and stir until well dissolved, ~3 minutes – don’t let it boil. Set aside off the heat.
  3. Place the rice in a bowl and add the coconut mixture in by the spoonful. Don’t pour it all in. You only want to use 3/4 of the coconut mixture, or it’ll be too wet. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or paper towel and let it sit on the counter for 15 min.
  4. Empty the saucepan and return it to low heat. Add the coconut cream, sugar, and salt, and stir until just dissolved. Warm it only to let it dissolve, ~1-2 minutes. Don’t heat it too much or it’ll lose its creaminess. Set aside off the heat.
  5. Uncover the rice and give it a gentle stir with a spoon or fork. Plate it, top with some coconut cream sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve with sliced mango. See note below for serving it cold.

NOTES + TIPS:
*you can use coconut milk in both of the sauces – the coconut cream is just thicker and makes a creamier sauce.
To serve this cold, cover and set aside the coconut cream sauce from step 4 to cool at room temperature. Don’t refrigerate it or it’ll clump. Chill the rice in the fridge until the sauce is no longer warm, and then serve.

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Trusting the Process

dental school

There’s a mantra I tell myself to get through the challenges of life, one that I’ve been using a lot lately: trust the process.

It came to mind from my first year of dental school, inspired by one of my preclinical lab instructors. He’s a bit of a wild card. He says things he probably shouldn’t (as a teacher) be saying. He runs on his own schedule and is the most easygoing, carefree human being I know, even (especially!) when it comes to grading. He’s often said in the past that we learn best by failing, and he wants us to fail, and he’ll accept our failures as passing grades for the very reason that it shows that we’re learning. He’s like a believer in his own cult of trusting an invisible guiding hand, that’ll inevitably bring us all from point zero to professional.

But! The vast majority of dental students are Type A … we’re mostly organized, keen, hardworking, and we thrive on structure and knowing we’re prepared for what’s to come. Take that away, and you take away our confidence in ourselves. And I think a lot of my classmates felt that way in Dr. Wild Card’s lab – flailing, undirected, disorganized, and somehow, some way, making a complete and utter failure out of your work was suddenly just fine. (Whaaaaaat?!)

And now, two years later, we all turned out up to par. I wouldn’t bat an eye if any one of my classmates asked to drill my tooth; we all do excellent work. It just took a bit of time, repetition, and letting go of the idea that failing somehow turns things from it’ll be okay to it won’t be okay. It’s a process, and you just have to put your trust in it, even if it’s blind faith.

In the same vein, I have a little “success story” that I relive whenever I need that gentle reminder that time will guide me well. In the first semester of dental school, they started us on “wax-ups” – we had to build true-to-size teeth out of wax. Here’s some of the very first ones I made, which were just passable (i.e., not very good!):

year 1 wax canine from the facial view (note: the 21 isn’t referring to the tooth number)
year 1 wax canine from the lingual/proximal view (back/side view, in layman’s terms)

I had so. much. trouble with it starting out. It just seemed like I would get nothing but critical feedback, again and again, while my other classmates weren’t struggling at all. I remember being brought to tears by my frustration at some point, and an instructor and classmate sat with me to encourage me to keep going. My first projects (heck, even the first several!), like I’ve already said, weren’t amazing grades, but by the end of the year when we returned to wax-ups to study occlusion, I was getting perfect scores and the entire exercise – the wax handling, the carving, and the anatomical perspective – just came so much more naturally to me.

the next step was to wax up a tooth in relation to other teeth
tip: you can see the imperfection in this one when you look at the cusp tips (line marked in pencil on the cheek side) – my wax tooth cusp tips (line in green on the cheek side) doesn’t quite flow continuously with the pencil lines on the neighbouring teeth. They should line up perfectly.

I’m bringing this all up because just three days ago, we were back in the lab revisiting the practice of carving a tooth surface out of a chunk of wax. Previously, we were using wax to become familiar with tooth anatomy, but now, we were using it to simulate amalgam carving.

Before a silver filling looks like a tooth, it’s just a chunk of amalgam that we “inject” into the space where we drilled out the cavities. It’s our job to carve that shapeless mass into something that can pass as a tooth (or at least function like one when you chew). But the caveat? You do not have much time at all to carve amalgam before it hardens and can’t be manipulated anymore.

I was worried it’d be tough since we’d been given entire days to finish the wax teeth pictured above. Add to that the fact that I hadn’t handled wax for over a year. But I managed to do it in about 15 minutes, which isn’t too bad! (The instructor did it in less than 10, though.) Here’s the end result:

year 3 – wax 1st molar, buccal view
year 3 – wax 1st molar, occlusal view
tip: see how the cusp tips are perfectly in line with the cusp tips (biting edges) on the neighbouring teeth this time?
the distal contact (where it touches the other molar) could’ve been a little tighter.

Trust the process, trust the process. It’ll get you where you need to be.

Not just the process of learning things, but also everything else in life – building relationships, fixing mistakes, changing your image, finding your purpose … Sometimes all you need is to just let time work its magic, and you just enjoy the journey. Treasure your inexperience and make the most of it. You’ll get there 🙂

Recipe: Cappuccino Cookies (Cookies By George copycat)

Recipes, Uncategorized

There’s a chain of cafes in Central and Western Canada called Cookies By George and they make the softest, chewiest cookies ever. I’ve accumulated a few favourites of theirs over the years, including the Oatmeal Raisin, the Ginger Molasses, and Peaches & Cream (which, by the way, is only back for a month as September’s feature cookie! If you’re anywhere near a CBG store – go get some!!!) but my all-time go-to has to be their Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk.

Nicked this picture from the Cookies By George website. It’s the Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk ♥︎

I’ve been wanting to try and replicate it at home for awhile. The CBG website says the ingredients include margarine and butter, natural and artificial flavour, and cream, but I just stuck with butter, natural flavour (i.e., coffee granules), and nixed the cream.

5 easy steps! I included some of my cookie-baking tips at the bottom of the recipe.

CAPPUCCINO COOKIES (Cookies By George copycat recipe)

Makes 24-30 cookies

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp instant coffee granules, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup salted butter (or use unsalted and increase salt to 1/4 tsp), melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 200 g white chocolate bar, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 100 g dark or milk chocolate*, finely chopped almost into shavings
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and prepare your baking sheet(s).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, 2 tbsp instant coffee granules, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine the melted butter with sugars. Add the eggs and vanilla.
  4. Add the dry ingredients into the wet, and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate shavings, then fold in the white chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.
  5. Roll the dough into balls and bake for 10 minutes. Cookies may be very soft when you take them out, but leave them to cool 5 minutes on the baking sheet until you can remove them in one piece.

NOTES + TIPS:
*I used 47% dark chocolate. You could also use milk chocolate. The point is to offset the sweetness of the white chocolate with something a bit less sweet, but you won’t want the full bitterness of dark chocolate that’s >50%.
Removing the cookies at 10 minutes leaves a slightly undercooked cookie, but it’ll firm up as it cools with the residual heat from the baking tray. While they’re soft, I like to press down on the tops with the back of a spoon to create a nice “chewy sunken cookie” look.
Removing them from the oven earlier also helps it stay soft and fudgy for longer afterwards. For best results, store them in a sealed container at room temp with a damp paper towel inside!

Makes the perfect gift for deserving, caffeine-desperate friends ♥︎