Sticky end, Thai style

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Mangoes and durian bring Thai decadence to Vietnam

Khao niew ma muang, Thai sweet sticky rice with mango, at Coca Suki Restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City

For someone with a sweet tooth, I am very particular about my desserts. Not for me the gooey, lumpy custards, and sugary concoctions. When the mood strikes, I crave pure, rich decadence. And they don't come purer or more decadent than Thai sticky rice with mango or durian.

Khao niew ma muang, or Thai sticky rice with mango, is one of those desserts that can inspire a poet to abandon poetry and just dig in. Sticky rice drenched in sweet coconut milk, topped with luscious mangoes, is one of the most popular desserts in the world, and one that has propelled Thai cuisine to greatness.

And it's really easy to make. Soak glutinous rice in water for four hours, or until the rice turns tender. Peel the mango, and chop it into small cubes.

Authentic Thai style sticky rice is available at the following addresses in Ho Chi Minh City:

Con Voi Vang
34 Hai Ba Trung Street, District 1
Tel: (08) 3 822 8554

Lac Thai
71/2 Mac Thi Buoi Street, Ben Nghe Ward, District 1

S9-1 Bui Bang Doan Street, Hung Vuong 3 Block, District 7
Tel: (08) 3 410 0822

Coca Suki
18-20 Mac Thi Buoi Street, District 1
Tel: (08) 3 824 6688, (08) 3 824 3417

In a saucepan, heat coconut milk, salt and sugar over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour the sweet coconut milk on sticky rice and top it off with chopped mangoes.

Choose your mangoes carefully for this dessert. A very sweet, over ripe mango can ruin it. Pick a sweet but tart mango, to complement the sweetness of the coconut milk.

Another Thai favorite is khao niew turien, sweet sticky rice with durian. Though the recipe is not complicated, it requires special skill on the chef's part to cook the sticky rice to perfection.

To make khao niew turien, mix glutinous rice together with durian pulp, coconut milk, sugar and salt. This is authentic sticky rice, Thai style. The sticky rice absorbs fat from the coconut milk and durian, and may appear greasy.

A traditional variation of the dish includes slices of jackfruit and longan. A hot cup of ginger tea helps appreciate the sweetness and fullness of flavors in this rich dessert.

Most Thai restaurants in Vietnam serve the rice, durian and coconut milk separately so customers can mix the ingredients together according to their taste.

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