Gimme some more a’ that sticky-icky

—-Alinea post next, I promise, maybe today—-

I don’t mince gently around the subject of rice pudding. I lurve it a million. I don’t need any fancy-schmancy custard bases, or rum-soaked raisins (I wouldn’t kick them out of bed for getting crumbs on the sheets, though), or flecks of vanilla bean…I just want tender yet chewy rice with some kind of sweet, creamy fluid suspending it. And a big spoon, of course. Often I just take leftover rice and stir in some sweetened condensed milk, then eat it just like that. Everyone knows I’m a big fan of sweetened condensed milk, but here’s a little Disgustor, Queen of the Gross Stuff story for you:

When I was young, I would take sweetened condensed milk out of my parents’ pantry and eat it straight from the can. But I couldn’t finish a can all at once back then (I totally can now), so I would just hide it behind the curtains in my room and sip from it periodically over the course of a week or so. I don’t ever remember it going bad, but it was dairy, so it had to, right? I mean, a can of sweet milk sitting in the sun by a window for a week isn’t going to stay fresh. I was less discerning back then. Now I’ll throw yogurt away just for looking at me funny, and it’s definitely heading to the trash can if it gets to its sell-by date. I don’t mess around with dairy.

Very occasionally, though, I get hit with the urge to have Thai rice pudding. It’s made with sticky rice, which is also known as glutinous rice, which is also known as sweet rice. It can be black, or it can be white (black rice? Wha? Yeah, it’s good). The rice is short-grained and very starchy, and sticks to itself beautifully (or infernally, if you’re not wanting it to stick together). I bought a bag of it once thinking “I’ll make Thai rice pudding!” It sat in a bag for a while, unused, because I know making a batch of pudding means I’ll eat the whole damned thing, warm from the pot. While it lay fallow, we had the cockroach scare of ’09, where I found one on the porch. After a fiesta of tears and panic, I revamped the entire pantry system to be bug-proof. All of our flours (and yes, there are many, many flours), and all of our sweets or grains are in these sealed plastic containers. I cut the title from the bag or box of food, taped it to the side of the plastic bin, and then dumped the contents of the bag or box inside. They stack nicely. I love them. We’re safe from bugs, and I’ve got a healthy, bouncing baby neurosis to nurse.

But back to Thai rice pudding…I wanted some. Then I remembered that Thai rice pudding is so calorie-laden that it just kind of jumps off of my plate and attaches itself to the backs of my thighs. The custard is just sweetened coconut milk, and it’s usually served with mangoes. I wanted the texture without the coconut milk fattiness. What to do?

Enter National Starch Company. They are a company that innovates/sells different processed starches for use in the food manufacturing business. They’re well-known for their N-Zorbit, which is used to turn high-fat creamy foods (like peanut butter or caramel) into powder. They make all kinds of wacky powders, though, and I have a lot of them. I ordered them to experiment for culinary school, but haven’t used many of them yet. They also make something called N-Dulge SA1, which is a corn maltodextrin that takes low-fat liquids and gives them a creamy, sumptuous, fatty mouthfeel. Uh, perfect?

So I made a very basic rice pudding with sticky rice using the N-Dulge SA1 to turn skim milk into glorious, creamy, thick custard that coated the mouth

or back of the spoon

in the same way a creme anglaise would, but with basically no fat. It was hella cool. I wasn’t at all sure it would work, or how it would work. The starches don’t come with recipes or instructions, because they’re meant to be used by large manufacturing companies that have R&D; departments and food scientists. I am not a food scientist, despite my fervent wishes.

The powdered SA1 looks much like cocaine, and has a texture unlike something you would ordinarily want to consume, and when mixed with liquids and left to sit (like on the walls of the blender) turns into something akin to cement. It got me to thinking: sure, this is a naturally based starch. But it’s not something found in food without processing it. And the way it clung to the sides of that blender makes me very, very glad that I don’t eat many processed foods. Think of what that probably does to your GI tract over time. Just coats it with a plaque of indelible grit…ugh. Then I thought about how it made a delicious creaminess out of nothing, and how it DID come from corn, and how obesity deposits even worse plaque in your heart, and then I figured, hey–this is actually a really cool product. And I ate the hell out of my rice pudding, which was decadent and had the chew of Thai with the rich vanilla flavor of traditional with the custardy goodness of true pudding with the fat of friggin’ Jello sugar-free pudding cup. Can you beat that? I tried, by using half Splenda-half sugar. It tasted authentic, and Chris ate it too, and he has always protested that he hates rice pudding.

Now, if you are afraid of using random o-chem-style ingredients, this isn’t for you. But maybe you still want to have a lovely sticky rice pudding. If that’s the case, I included a recipe for you using the full-fat version of these ingredients.N-Dulge SA1 —Sticky Rice Pudding

1 C sweet rice (glutinous rice, sticky rice, they’re all the same)
3 C skim milk
¼ C sugar
2 packets splenda
¼ t salt
3 T N-Dulge SA1 (National Starch Company)
1 t extract (vanilla or almond work well)

Soak rice in cold water for 10-15 minutes, then rinse until the water runs clear. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll have a gluey mess on your hands.

Combine 2 C milk, rice, sugar, and salt in a large saucepot, covered, and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and allow to simmer on medium heat, stirring periodically.

While this is happening, take the remaining cup milk, Splenda, and N-Dulge SA1 and blend on high speed in a blender until completely smooth.

After rice has been simmering for 10 minutes, stir in the N-Dulge slurry and keep simmering for 10 more minutes, or until the rice is tender. Taste for sweetness, stir in the extract, and allow to sit off of the heat for 15 minutes to thicken. Season with cinnamon and sugar if you like, and eat up!

–OR—

Natural sticky rice pudding

1 C sweet rice
2 C milk
1 C half and half
½ C sugar (scant)
¼ t salt
1 t extract (vanilla or almond work well)

Soak rice in cold water for 10-15 minutes, then rinse until the water runs clear. Don’t skip this step, or you’ll have a gluey mess on your hands.

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepot, covered, and bring to a boil. Immediately turn to medium, remove lid, and cook (stirring periodically to avoid sticking/burning) for 20 minutes, or until rice is tender. Adjust the sweetness, stir in extract, and let sit off the heat for about 15 minutes to thicken. Season the pudding with cinnamon and sugar if you feel so inclined, or just eat it warm out of the pot.

Or if you want an easy Thai rice pudding, do this the same way, but use coconut milk instead of regular milk. It’s all good! The world is your oyster! Or your bowl of rice pudding, at least.

3 thoughts on “Gimme some more a’ that sticky-icky”

  1. Better living through chemistry…always a bit scary for me. But rice pudding…very comforting.

    We had the weavel wars of 2008 up in my kitchen. It was horrifying. I now have perfectly stacked and labeled anal-retentive storage containers as well. Suck on that, weavels. Oh wait, you can't, cuz it's in an airtight container. Ha, beotches.

  2. I don't think I've ever had Rice Pudding. But then, it does not sound appetizing in the least. Yes, I have food texture issues; why do you ask?

    captcha: tamihea. I'm pretending it's some sort of dip…from a vegetable, can't decide what type yet…but you know, like baba ganoush.

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