Chews Local

Good & Local Friday, 5 May 2013
Posted 5/5/2013 by Bobbie Jo Gustafson
We love to eat with our fingers. We have no need for silverware often. (Which is good because recently our oldest daughter moved out and she took a good amount of our silverware with her.)

Ever had sticky rice? It's the best finger food ever created. Roll a small amount in the palm of your hand, pat it down a little, then impress your thumb into the middle of it, and you'll have a bite sized rice spoon. You can eat all kinds of spiced ground or bite sized foods with sticky rice. I especially enjoy pickled vegetables with sticky rice.

My favorite bite sized food to eat with sticky rice is a fresh sausage. Ty made a batch of the sausages this week. The recipe came from a Laotian family member. Imagine a mild fresh italitan sausage, but replace the italian herbs with lemongrass, green onion, garlic, and scallion. The recipe also calls for kaffir lime leaves, but we leave them out. We could grow a potted kaffir lime tree, bringing it in during the cold months, but we haven't tried yet.

For the ground, we prefer using pasture raised pork. We'd purchased a pastured pig from Wacholz Farm in December. The pork has great flavor on it's own. It tastes earthy, cooks up juicy and the texture is different than conventional supermarket pork. Pastured pork isn't as lean as conventional pork so the meat doesn't get what I'd describe as rubbery when cooked. This kind of meat ground up with the herbs (and a few sauces) makes a yummy laotian sausage.

This summer when the Story City Locker opens, the butchery will prepare small batches of fresh sausages, like this one.  Because we're focusing on small batches with seasonal ingredients coming from small producers, we will have an ever changing selection of items to enjoy in the fresh case.
We think a casual meal where sticky rice is the (delicious) utensil is fun. Sticky rice is easy to make.  You have time to do this!  I'm highlighting here how to use a splatter gaurd to make it, for the benefit of the daughter who has moved out.  She grew up on this stuff but doesn't have space to use the same tools we do.

First you need to soak the right kind of rice. Sticky rice is a glutinous rice. The rice package will say "long-grain sticky rice,” “sweet rice” or “glutinous rice".  Rinse the rice (several times until the water stays somewhat clear) and then soak it for at least a 1/2 hour. The longer you soak the rice the better. We soak ours, typically, overnight.

Use a skillet the splatter guard will fit over. Fill the pan with water so there's at least 3 inches of space between the splatter guard and the top of the water. Heat the water until a good boil develops.

Drain the soaking rice by placing the scatter gaurd over the bowl and hold it there while you tip the bowl upside down over the sink.  Then adjust the drained rice so it's about 2 inches deep (for even cooking). Make sure the rice doesn't touch the edges of the steel bowl you'll put over the rice for cooking.

Adjust the burner heat so the boiling water has a partial, low boil and place the steel bowl over the rice. Cook the rice 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how much rice you use.

After 10 to 20 minutes, flip the rice with a spatula (for even cooking.) Cover the rice with the steel bowl again and cook 10 to 20 minutes more.

The rice will have a translucent look to it and cleanly stick together when it's done. It may stick to your fingers a bit until it cools some, so let it sit on top of the steel bowl to cool for a while, turning the rice a few times to let some of the moisture escape.

Now all there is to do is eat it.  Be creative choosing the food items you'll serve with the rice.  Sticky rice is fun to plan a menu around.  It's also a good snack with some soy sauce.

What's your favorite finger food?  

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