Sticky rice, brought to table in a round hat-box-shaped basket, is the foundation of all - and eaten with all. The rice is scooped and, with the same hand, formed into small balls, then rolled into the food. Like a magnet, it picks up all morsels and sauces in its path. Lao cooks steam their rice in a cone-shaped basket sat over a pot - you can use a regular steamer, lined with muslin or cheesecloth. Black sticky rice is popular too.
Drain the rice and rinse it under cold water, then spread it out over a muslin-lined steaming tray. Assemble your steamer with plenty of water in the base pan, then cover and steam for about 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. It should still have some bite, yet be sticky. Scoop out (and no rinsing, God forbid) and serve in a basket or bowl, or on a plate.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.