Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburbian-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.
This Week: Khao Niaow Ma Muang (Sweet Rice with Mango) from Chef Nicha Jithchamnonk of Latitude Eight Thai Grill (11 W. Boston Street. Chandler, AZ)
The Basics: Khao Niaow Ma Muang is a classic dish of Northern Thailand. Consisting of sweet mango and Thai sweet rice, it is a simple recipe that makes a great refreshing desert or snack, with sweet rice, also called glutinous rice, being a staple food of Northern Thai cuisine. No unnecessary complexities here; it's all about fresh ingredients and a little bit of patience.
The dish begins sweet, sticky rice being soaked in water for long period (depending on amount: usually 1 hour to overnight). Afterward, the rice is steamed, and then mixed with creamy coconut milk and sugar. It is then served with slices of fresh mango.
Latitude Eight's gourmet version of the dish after the jump
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Latitude Eight's Khao Niaow Ma Muang: Latitude Eight's take on the classic dish melts in your mouth in the best possible way. The mango, despite being out of season, was sweet and juicy. The sweet rice was tender and eye opening. The dish was further complimented with a light addition of Latitude Eight's House sauce, sesame seed flakes and mint.
The Process: Chef Jithchamnonk first lets her sweet rice soak in fragrant water overnight. After steaming for 30 minutes, she hand stirs the rice in coconut milk (2 cans) and sugar (2 cups) until all the liquid has been absorbed.
She chooses the freshest mangoes for the dish, making sure they are "firm, yet still soft, and not too red." She stresses avoiding bruises and making sure the mango insides are a consistent "golden color."
Ying and Yuck: Undercooked sweet rice with be crunchy and hard. Overcooked sweet rice will be too mushy and soft. You want to find the nice balance of firm, yet soft and tender. As for the mango, just make sure to use something fresh and not too ripe. Sweetness is the key here.