When you think of rice, the first place that will probably come to mind is China. But Thailand is actually one of the biggest rice producers in the world, and a large part of the country’s economy relies on the export of rice. Rice is served with every meal in Thailand, so getting it right is one of the main elements of great Thai cooking – and it’s what we do every day at Thai Terre in Eastbourne and soon Uckfield too.
The main types of rice used in Thai cooking are jasmine rice and sticky rice.
Jasmine rice has some pretty unique properties that make it so delicious, and so definitely Thai. Jasmine rice can also be called fragrant rice, scented rice, jasmine scented rice, or aromatic rice, and these names will give you a good idea of just what is so special about it. It smells incredible, and lends a beautiful fragrance to any dish it is served with. Be careful if you are cooking this rice yourself though – it is deceptively difficult to get it right, and a lot of the time it comes out soggy or gummy. This is why a professional Thai chef, such as the ones we employ at Thai Terre, have many years of experience in getting it right; it does take practice!
Sticky rice is used a lot of Thai desserts, but it can be a savoury dish too. Any kind of short grain rice is automatically more sticky than long grain rice due to the starch within it – there is a lot more starch in short grain rice, and when it is cooked that starch bonds together to form the stickiness that is required for certain Thai dishes. Sticky rice must not be boiled, or the starch will be washed away before it can do its job. To cook sticky rice properly, it must be steamed. This allows the starch to seep out, but not to be washed away. Therefore it can stick the grain of rice together, creating a delicious (when flavoured correctly) accompaniment to any meal.