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Glutinous rice (Oryza sativa var. glutinosa or Oryza glutinosa; also called sticky rice, sweet rice, waxy rice, botan rice, biroin chal, mochi rice, and pearl rice) is a type of short-grained Asian rice that is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous ( Latin glūtinōsus) in the sense of being glue-like or sticky and not in the sense of containing gluten; on the other hand, it is called sticky but should not be confused with the other varieties of Asian rice that become sticky to one degree or another when cooked.


Glutinous rice is a type of rice grown in Chinamarker, Japanmarker, Koreamarker, Philippinesmarker, Thailandmarker, Laosmarker, Indonesiamarker and Vietnammarker. An estimated 85% of Lao rice production is of this type. Records of this rice go back at least 1,100 years, in this region. The improved rice varieties that swept through Asia during the Green Revolution were non-glutinous and Lao farmers rejected them in favor of their traditional sticky varieties. Over time, higher-yield strains of glutinous rice have become available from the Laotian National Rice Research Programme. By 1999, more than 70% of the area along the Mekong River Valley were of these newer strains. In China, glutinous rice has been grown for at least 2,000 years. According to legend, it was used to make the mortar in the construction of the Great Wall of China, and chemical tests have confirmed that this is true for the city walls of Xianmarker. It is used in recipes throughout Southeast and East Asia.


Glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and thus should be safe for gluten-free diets. What distinguishes it from other types of rice is having no (or negligible amounts of) amylose, and high amounts of amylopectin (those are the two components of starch). Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky quality of glutinous rice. The difference has been traced to a single mutation that was selected for by farmers.

Glutinous rice can be used either milled or unmilled (that is, with the bran removed or not removed). Milled rice is white in color, whereas the bran can give unmilled glutinous rice a purple or black color. However, black and purple glutinous rice are distinct strains from white glutinous rice, and in developing Asia, there is little regulation, resulting in many advisories about toxic dyes added to color adulterated rice. Both black and white glutinous rice can be cooked as grains or ground into flour and cooked as a paste.

A packet of glutinous rice in a traditional Isan banana-leaf wrapper


Chinese traditions

In Chinese, glutinous rice is known as nuòmǐ (糯米).

The Chinese dish, nuòmǐ fàn (糯米飯), is steamed glutinous rice usually cooked with Chinese sausage, chopped Chinese mushrooms, chopped barbecue pork and optionally dried shrimp or scallop (recipe varies depending on the cook's preference).

Zongzi is a Chinese dumpling consisting of glutinous rice and sweet or savory fillings wrapped in leaves which is then boiled or steamed, commonly eaten during the Dragon Boat Festival. Lo mai gai is a parcel of glutinous rice and chicken wrapped in lotus leaves and steamed. It is served as a dim sum dish in Hong Kongmarker, Singaporemarker, and Malaysiamarker. Ba bao fan (八寶飯) or "eight treasure rice" is a dessert made from glutinous rice steamed and mixed with lard, sugar, and eight kinds of fruits or nuts.

Glutinous rice is also often ground to make glutinous rice flour. This flour is then made into niangao and sweet filled dumplings tangyuan, both of which are commonly eaten at Chinese new year. It also sometimes used as a thickener and for baking.

Japanese traditions

In Japanmarker, glutinous rice is known as mochigome ( ). It is used to make mochi, a traditional rice cake prepared for the Japanese New Year but also eaten year-round. See also Japanese rice.

Korean traditions

In Koreamarker, glutinous rice is called chapssal (Hangul: 찹쌀), and its characteristic stickiness is called chalgi (Hangul: 찰기). Cooked rice made of glutinous rice is called chalbap (Hangul: 찰밥) and rice cakes (Hangul: 떡, ddeok) are called chalddeok or chapssalddeok (Hangul: 찰떡, 찹쌀떡). Chalbap is used as stuffing in samgyetang (Hangul: 삼계탕).

Laotian and Thai traditions

A Lao rice basket
Som tam (papaya salad), kai yang (grilled chicken) and khao niao (sticky rice) is a very popular combination

Glutinous rice is the main rice eaten in Laos, Northern Thailand, and the northeast Thai Isanmarker region. In Lao, Thai and Isan, glutinous rice is khao niao (Lao: ເຂົ້າໜຽວ, Thai: ข้าวเหนียว; Northern Thai: เข้าหนึ้ง, khao nueng) : "khao" means rice, and "niao" means sticky. It is cooked by soaking for several hours and then steaming in a bamboo pot or huat (Lao ຫວດ, Thai: หวด). After that, it should be turned out on a clean surface and kneaded with a wooden paddle: this results in rice balls that will stick to themselves but not to fingers. The large rice ball is kept in a small basket made of bamboo or kratip (Lao: ກະຕິບ, Thai: กระติบ). The rice is sticky but dry, rather than wet and gummy like non-glutinous varieties. The fingers of the right hand are used to eat it by wadding the rice. Two of the most popular dishes are kai yang or grilled chicken, and som tam or tam mak hung in Thai eastern dialect (Lao: ຕຳໝາກຫຸ່ງ, Thai Isan: ตำหมากหุ่ง, better known in the West by the standard Thai name som tam).

The northern Thais consume glutinous rice as part of their main diet, as do the Laotians. Some of the older Thais prefer glutinous rice to other rice varieties. Lao people also use toasted glutinous rice (khao kua) to add a nut like flavor to many dishes. It is used as the basis for the brewing of satho (Thai: สาโท), an alcoholic beverage also known as "Thai rice wine".

Khao niao is also eaten with desserts. Khao niao moon is Khao niao steamed with coconut milk that can be served with ripened mango or durian. And khao niao kluai is banana (kluai) and khao niao steamed together, usually with coconut milk.

Vietnamese traditions

Glutinous rice is called "gạo nếp" in Vietnamese. Dishes made from glutinous rice in Vietnam are typically served as desserts or side dishes but some can be served as main dishes. There is a wide variety of glutinous rice dishes in Vietnamese cuisine, majority of them can be categorized as followed:
  • Bánh, the most diverse category, refers to a wide variety of sweet or savoury, distinct cakes, buns, pastries, sandwiches, and food items from Vietnamese cuisine, which may be cooked by steaming, baking, frying, deep-frying, or boiling. It is important to note that not all bánh are made from glutinous rice, they can also be made from ordinary rice flour, cassava flour, taro flour, tapioca starch... The word "bánh" is also used to refer to certain varieties of noodle in Vietnam and absolutely not to be confused with glutinous rice dishes. Some bánh dishes that are made from glutinous rice include:
    • Bánh chưng: square-shaped steamed glutinous rice dumpling filled with pork and mung bean paste, wrapped in a dong leaf, usually eaten in Vietnamese New Year.
    • Bánh giầy: white flat round glutinous rice cake with tough chewy texture filled with mung bean or served with Vietnamese sausage (chả), usually eaten in Vietnamese New Year together with bánh chưng.
    • Bánh dừa: glutinous rice mixed with black bean paste cooked in coconut juice, wrapped in coconut leaf. The filling can be mung bean stir-fried in coconut juice or banana.
    • Bánh rán: a Northern Vietnamese dish of deep-fried glutinous rice balls covered with sesame, scented with jasmine flower essence, filled with either sweetened mung bean paste (the sweet version) or chopped meat and mushrooms (the savory version).
    • Bánh cam: a Southern Vietnamese version of bánh rán. Unlike bánh rán, bánh cam is coated with a layer of sugary liquid and has no jasmine essence.
    • Bánh trôi: made from glutinous rice mixed with a small portion of ordinary rice flour (the ratio of glutinous rice flour to ordinary rice flour is typically 9:1 or 8:2) filled with sugarcane rock candy.
    • Bánh gai: made from the leaves of the "gai" tree (Boehmeria nivea) dried, boiled, grind into small pieces, then mixed with glutinous rice, wrapped in banana leaf. The filling is made from a mixture of coconut, mung bean, peanuts, winter melon, sesames, and lotus seeds.
    • Bánh cốm: the cake is made from young glutinous rice seeds. The seeds are put into a water pot, stirred on fire, juice extracted from pomelo flower is added. The filling is made from steamed mung bean, scraped coconut, sweetened pumpkin, and sweetened lotus seeds.
    • Other bánh made from glutinous rice are bánh tro, bánh tét, bánh ú, bánh qui, bánh măng, bánh ít, bánh khúc, bánh tổ, bánh in, bánh dẻo, bánh su sê, bánh nổ...
  • Xôi are sweet or savory dishes made from steamed glutinous rice and other ingredients. Sweet xôi are typically eaten as breakfast. Savory xôi can be eaten as lunch. Though the main ingredient in xôi is glutinous rice, some xôi dishes are made from fragrant ordinary rice. Xôi dishes made from glutinous rice include:
    • Xôi lá cẩm: made with the magenta plant.
    • Xôi lá dứa: made with pandan leaf extract for the green color and a distinctive pandan flavor.
    • Xôi chiên phồng: deep-fried glutinous rice patty
    • Xôi gà: made with coconut juice and pandan leaf served with fried or roasted chicken and sausage.
    • Xôi thập cẩm: made with dried shrimp, chicken, Chinese sausage, Vietnamese sausage (chả), peanuts, coconut, onion, fried garlic...
    • Other xôi dishes made from glutinous rice include: xôi lạc, xôi lúa, xôi đậu xanh, xôi nếp than, xôi gấc, xôi vò, xôi sắn, xôi sầu riêng, xôi khúc, xôi xéo, xôi cá, xôi vị...
  • Chè refers to any traditional Vietnamese sweetened soup or porridge. Though chè can be made using a wide variety of ingredients, some chè dishes made from glutinous rice include:
    • Chè đậu trắng: made from glutinous rice and black-eyed peas.
    • Chè con ong: made from glutinous rice, ginger root, honey, and molasses.
    • Chè cốm: made from young glutinous rice seeds, kudzu flour, and juice from pomelo flower.
    • Chè xôi nước: balls made from mung bean paste in a shell made of glutinous rice flour; served in a thick clear or brown liquid made of water, sugar, and grated ginger root.
  • Cơm nếp: glutinous rice that is cooked in the same way as ordinary rice, except that the water used is flavored by adding salts or by using coconut juice, or soups from chicken broth or pork broth.
  • Cơm rượu: Glutinous rice balls cooked and mixed with yeast, served in a slightly alcoholic milky white liquid.
  • Cơm lam: Glutinous rice cooked in a tube of bamboo of the genus Neohouzeaua and often served with grilled pork or chicken.

Glutinous rice can also be fermented to make Vietnamese alcoholic beverages such as rượu nếp, rượu cần, rượu đế.

Pictures of some Vietnamese dishes made from glutinous rice.Image:Xôi lá cẩm.jpg|Xôi lá cẩm made from glutinous rice with magenta plant.

Filipino traditions

In the Philippinesmarker, glutinous rice is known as malagkit (literally "sticky" in Tagalog), milled glutinous rice is known as galapong. Milling - that is, washing and soaking the rice first, and then proceeding to milling proper - is generally preferred as this removes the unpleasant powdery texture found in glutinous rice which has been dried first and then converted to flour.

Glutinous rice cooked in coconut leaf or banana leaves wrappers are steamed to produce "suman," of which there are many varieties depending on the region. Some of the common toppings are "bukayo", grated mature coconut cooked in sugar, coconut jam, and freshly grated coconut. Some regions eat suman as a snack with ripe mangoes or bananas. In suman sa lihiya (lye), the rice grains are treated with a solution of lye and then dried, then the grains are poured into a banana leaf cone or coconut leaf wrapper and steamed. It may be mixed with sugar, coconut milk, or other grains such as millet.

Malagkit is also used in Puto, or steamed rice dumplings, of which numerous variations exist.

A general term for sweet rice cake, "bibingka" mainly consists of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk. Bibingka is often associated with the Philippine Christmas season. In tandem with the bibingka's role in Philippine Christmas tradition is the "Puto bumbong" - a suman-like sweet dish steamed in special containers with bamboo tubes, and served with butter, grated coconuts, sugar, and sometimes toasted sesame seeds. Puto bumbong traditionally uses a special heirloom variety of glutinous rice called "pirurutong" which has a naturally purple colour.

Another traditional Filipino snack very similar to Japanese mochi is called "palitao."

Glutinous rice is also used in gruel-like dishes such as champorado, which is cooked with cocoa powder and sweetened. Milk is usually added, and tuyo is served with it as a counterpoint. Lugaw, goto, arroz caldo, are all variants of rice porridge dishes featuring glutinous rice mixed with normal rice.

Bilo-bilo is another dish that utilizes glutinous rice. It is a sweet, thick soup that has coconut milk, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, plantain, sago pearls, and the bilo - or galapong shaped into gummy balls.

Burmese traditions

Hatmanè pwè - a special glutinous rice festival

Glutinous rice, called kao hnyin, is very popular in Myanmarmarker (Also known as Burma).
  • Kao hnyin baung is a breakfast dish with boiled peas (pèbyouk) or with a variety of fritters such as urad dal (baya gyaw) served on a banana leaf. It may actually be cooked wrapped in a banana leaf often with peas and served with a sprinkle of salted toasted sesame and often grated coconut.
  • The purple variety known as nga cheik is equally popular cooked as ngacheik paung.
  • They may both be cooked and pounded into cakes with sesame called hkaw bouk, another favourite version in the north among the Shan and the Kachin and served grilled or fried.
  • Htamanè pwè (festival) takes place on the full moon of Dabodwè (February) when htamanè is cooked in a huge wok, requiring two men each with a wooden spoon the size of an oar and a third man co-ordinating the action of folding and stirring the contents which include kao hnyin, ngacheik, coconut shavings, peanuts, sesame and ginger in peanut oil.
  • Si damin is glutinous rice cooked with turmeric and onions in peanut oil and served with toasted sesame and crisp fried onions, a popular breakfast like kao hnyin baung and ngacheik paung.
  • Paung din is another ready-to-eat portable form cooked in a segment of bamboo, and when the bamboo is peeled off it retains a thin skin around giving off at the same time a distinctive aroma. This is also sold by street vendors in Thailand, where it is known as 'khao lam'.
  • Mont let kauk is made from glutinous riceflour, donut-shaped and fried like baya gyaw but eaten with a dip of jaggery or palm sugar syrup.
  • Mont lone yei baw are glutinous rice balls with jaggery inside thrown into boiling water in a huge wok and ready to serve as soon as they resurface - a time-honoured tradition during Thingyan, the Burmese New Year festival.
  • Htoe mont, glutinous rice cake with raisins, cashews and coconut shavings, is a traditional dessert for special occasions and very much appreciated as a present from Mandalaymarker.
  • La mont (lit. mooncake) is another Mandalay snack filled with either sugar or sweet bean paste.
  • Nga pyaw douk, banana in glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaf and steamed and served with grated coconut - another favourite snack sold by street hawkers like kao hnyin baung and mont let kauk.

Image:IMG ngacheikpaung.JPG|Ngacheik paung with pèbyouk (boiled peas) and salted toasted sesameImage:IMG 0746.JPG|Hkaw bouk - dried cakes of ngacheik glutinous rice with Bombay duck, both friedImage:Htamanè.JPG|Htamanè - glutinous rice with fried coconut, roasted peanuts, sesame and gingerImage:Making_htamanè.JPG|The traditional way of making special glutinous rice htamanè is still practicedImage:Si_damin.JPG|Si damin - glutinous rice cooked in oil with turmeric and served with boiled peas and crushed salted sesameImage:MontLone_yeibaw.JPG|Mont lone yei baw - glutinous rice balls with jaggery inside and covered with shredded coconut - a New Year traditionImage:Paung_din.JPG|Paung din - glutinous rice, both purple and white varieties, cooked in bamboo tubesImage:IMG paungdin.JPG|Paung din (ngacheik) with to hpu (Burmese tofu), mashed potato and urad dal fritters

Malaysian traditions

In Malaysiamarker, glutinous rice is known as pulut, and it is usually mixed with santan, meaning coconut milk in Malay, along with a bit of salt to add some taste. It is widely used during the Raya festive seasons as traditional food, such as
  • Palas - cooked pulut wrapped in triangular shaped crafts made from local leaves and left to be boiled for 3 – 4 hours to result nice shaped compression and to bring out the aroma or taste from the wrapped leaves.
  • Lemang - wrapped in banana leaves and inside a bamboo, and left to be barbecued/grilled on an open fire, to make the taste and texture tender and unique
  • Ketupat - square shaped crafts made from the same local leaves as palas, but it is usually filled with regular rice grains instead of pulut, but it depends on the maker.
  • Lopes - glutinous rice wrapped in individual triangles using banana leaves and left to boil for a few hours. The rice pieces are then tossed with grated coconut all over and served with palm sugar syrup.

Pulut will also be used in certain famous kuih, traditional local desserts.


Other uses

In Malaysia, glutinous rice is used to make a cracker called inang-inang.

See also


External links

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