The group of Vietnamese rice

Gao, or long grain, rice is the daily staple of all South-east Asian cooking. Often delica tely scented, such as fragrant jasmine rice, the grains shou ld be dry, thin, firm and trans lucent when raw.Once steamed the tender gra ins should still retain some bite and turn white and fluff up easily with a fork. Whether polished or unpolished , aromatic or nutty, long grain rice is used throughout Vietnam and Cambodia as the absorbent bed for many fish and meat curries and stews.The Vietnamese prefer the long gra in jasmine variety (gao thom), cooked using the absorption method.

Often referred to as sticky or sweet rice(gao nep) , these grains are soaked for several hours, sometimes overnight, before cooking. Glutinous rice comes in both long and short grain va rieties.The long grain is used for both savoury and sweet dishes, such as the popular porridge-style dishes of South-east Asia ,whereas the plumper short grain is favoured for dumplings, puddings and festive sweets. In contrast to long grain rice, the high ly polished, glutinous rice grain is an opaque wh ite colour due to the starch content when raw and turns translucent when cooked. Although the grains retain a degree of f irm ness, they do tend to st ick to one another, thus lend ing themse lves idea lly to be ing handled in clumps and mou lded into balls to dip into a sauce, or to be flavoured with a dollop of sweet bean paste, to be used as fillings for cakes wrapped in banana leaves. In the streets of Vietnam and Cambodia, glutinous ri ce is often eaten as a filling snack, sweetened with a little coconut milk and sugar sprinkled over the top

This unpolished, wholegrain glutinous rice is reserved for sweet dishes throughout South-east Asia. When soaked in water and cooked, the grains turn a deep redd ish-purple colour.Sometimes ca lled forbidden ri ce, it has a distinct nutty flavou r. More fi ll ing than white rice, it is often eaten as a snack, sweetened with coconut milk and sugar.It is especially popular in the mango and durian season. Black sticky rice is available in some Asian markets.

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