2 cups whole-grain black (purple) sticky rice (or use white sticky rice aka glutinous rice)
2 cups (or 1-14oz can), coconut milk, Chao Koh or Mae Ploy brand
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds and/or toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
Strawberries and mint leaves (optional)
Measure the rice into a bowl; run your fingers through the rice and check for any pebbles or other noticeable impurities. Rinse the rice a few times until the water clears. Cover with at least 2 inches of water and allow to soak 4 or more hours, or overnight. The grains will absorb water and grow in size.
When ready to cook, drain the rice and place in a heat-proof bowl with room enough for the rice grains to expand about a third more than its uncooked bulk. Add a small amount of boiling water, just enough to barely cover the rice grains. Place the bowl on a steamer rack and steam over medium heat about 30-40 minutes. If you do not have a steamer, use a large pot in which the bowl fits. Place a trivet on the bottom along with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Balance the bowl with the rice on the trivet and add hot water to the rice. Cover and steam. Steaming the rice with a small volume of water will leave the top layer of grains intact, retaining a chewy texture which pops in your mouth like nuts. If you wish the rice to be softer, add more water to the rice.
While the rice is steaming, make the coconut sauce by heating the coconut milk, sugar and salt together in a saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and blend the sauce until smooth. Keep warm.
When the rice is cooked and while still hot out of the steamer, add about half of the sauce or enough to thoroughly coat the rice. Stir and mix well. The rice should be wet but not swimming in sauce. Let stand 15-20 minutes to allow the flavorings to be absorbed. Reserve the remaining sauce for spooning over the rice before serving.
The flavored rice can be molded into a round mound on a serving plate and decorated with toasted sesame seeds and/or coconut shreds, sliced strawberries and mint leaves for color. Or dish into individual serving bowls or custard cups, topped with the reserved sauce, toasted seeds and coconut and a mint leaf.
For a wetter pudding like texture, the rice may alternatively be cooked by boiling, the same way as you would regular rice. Use 2 1/2 to 3 cups of water to each cup of rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook partially covered until the grains are cooked and surrounded by a thick sauce, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning. Add sugar to sweeten to your liking. Stir well, cover and place on lowest heat setting for another 5-10 minutes. Make the sauce less sweet but more salty for contrast with the already sweetened rice. When ready to serve, dish the rice into individual serving bowls and dribble some sauce over each serving.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes and Pointers:
Because of its rich, nutty flavor, black sticky rice is usually eaten by itself and not served with fruits, like white sticky rice often is with mangoes.
For toppings, stronger flavors like toasted sesame seeds or toasted shredded coconut do more to accentuate the natural flavor of the rice.