After Stacy and I had been together a couple years, my empty nest mom decided to take up the hobby of Thai cooking by taking lessons at a local restaurant. Once we were aware of this, it became a tradition among my brothers and myself to request a huge Thai meal for our birthdays. She would make pad Thai and drunken noodles and soups and spring rolls and fried rice. A huge spread would be presented to us and we would devour it. At the end of the meal, instead of lame birthday cake, mom would make Mango Sticky Rice.
There’s something about this pairing that really appeals as a summer treat. Ripe mangoes are deliciously sweet and juicy and the glutinous (not glutenous) rice cooked in sweetened coconut makes an almost pudding texture that is simply amazing.
For over two years now I have been attempting to replace the rice with a non-grain and it has proved to be really difficult. Extremely difficult. Like throwing bowls of failed attempts across the room difficult.
In January, I attempted to make Mango Cauliflower Rice with shredded coconut, even making our own coconut milk. The boys were SUPER excited.
They wouldn’t eat it though. Because it was gross.
Do not attempt to make Mango Cauliflower Rice.
But luckily we hit upon a solution! While browsing through Spencer’s Market, Stacy stumbled upon something that was so crazy, it just might work. Have you ever heard of white chia seeds? Like their black brothers, the whites are a tiny seed that is high in protein, fiber and fat (for a seed, and even Mark approves of them) and has the unique property of soaking up 10x its volume in liquid. Chia seeds make an excellent pudding and end up having a sticky texture… hey! Wait a minute!
The texture of the result here is different from real sticky rice, of course, but it’s pretty close. Especially considering this dish traditionally includes a garnish of sesame seeds with an extremely similar texture. Overall the dish was close enough that when we served this at breakfast one morning, I expected to open birthday presents afterwards.
Not only that, but this is a perfect summer food, light enough not to weigh you down and taking advantage of sweet, ripe fruit. Speaking of fruit. Your mango must be super ripe and soft. Dice it gently and mind the long pit which runs the length of the center of the fruit! Stacy shows you how.
With a kid-friendly knife and some supervision this recipe can practically be made entirely by kids. Served best at room temperature, store chilled.
The color of the chia seed is simply for visuals. If you have black, feel free to use them.
NOTE; If your "rice" becomes thick more like a mousse than a pudding it can be fixed by simply adding in a few tablespoons of light coconut milk or almond milk, thoroughly mixing and allowing to rest a bit. Depending on humidity and the direction of wind, sometimes you'll need a bit more or less liquid for the perfect rice-like texture.
- 1 13.5 oz can of full fat coconut milk
- 1 C water
- 1/3 C palm sugar (this common paleo unrefined granulated sweetener is a traditional Thai sugar made from boiling sugar palm sap)
- 1/2 C white chia seeds
- 2 C mango, diced
- Pour coconut milk, water and palm sugar into a small saucepan and warm over medium heat. Stir frequently.
- When sugar is completely dissolved and solution starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Pour warm coconut milk mixture over chia seeds in a medium mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly to moisten all the seeds.
- Add in 1 1/2 cups of mango and any resulting juices from cutting it.
- Refrigerate for at least thirty minutes.
- Spoon into serving bowls and top with remaining mangoes and a light sprinkle of palm sugar.