Rice pudding and coconut are both divisive food items, often inviting extreme reactions from supporters as well as loathers. As for me, I love both. And the sticky, sweet, faintly salty black rice coconut pudding that’s served in Southeast Asian restaurants is even better than the sum of its parts. (San Franciscans can buy a perfect little tub of the stuff at the massive New May Wah mega-market on Clement Street—one of my favorite hangouts.)
This dish calls for glutinous rice, which also goes by the appropriate name of sticky rice. According to the great digital know-it-all, Wikipedia, legend claims that sticky rice “was used to make the mortar in the construction of the Great Wall of China. Chemical tests have confirmed that this is true for the city walls of Xian.” (Just thought I’d share.) You can find sticky rice at Asian markets or at grocery stores that have a good international section. You can order it online, too. Actually, I imagine this pudding would be delicious made with any kind of rice, it would just wind up with a different texture and/or color. And you’ll probably have to adjust the quantity of water given here. If you do experiment with other types of rice, come back and post a comment about the results!
Thai Black Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk
1 cup glutinous black rice
½ teaspoon table salt
⅓ cup sugar
3½ cups water
1 15-ounce can coconut milk, divided
Place rice in a medium saucepan and rinse with water, then drain. Repeat three times. Add salt, sugar, and water to saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until rice is cooked and most of the water is absorbed (1½ to 2 hours). If you like rice pudding with a firmer texture let more of the water absorb; if you like a wetter texture, leave a little more water in the saucepan. All that really matters is that the rice is fully cooked.
Remove from heat and stir one cup of coconut milk into the mixture. Divide mixture into 6 or 8 serving bowls, topping each with a helping of the remaining coconut milk.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.