Friday, February 15, 2013

sticky rice & red bean cake

The thing about sticky rice or pulut is once I start, I find it very hard to stop. It started with the serundeng post I did, which begged the pulut serundeng post and after that, of course I couldn't stop till every grain of sticky rice was gone from my pantry.

What makes it even stranger is the fact that I really am not a rice person on any given day. There's just something really moreish though, about the tender, succulent and swollen grains of pulut that makes it near impossible to stop reaching for another, then yet one more piece.

The fact that it's pandan scented and riddled with mealy, sweet red beans would have made it even more dangerous, had I not made it figure friendlier. It's amazing how my sluggish metabolism is so gifted at calculating (and revealing) calorie damage, when I can barely add up three and three and come up with six *grrrrrr*

Sticky rice by itself is pretty benign but it always cries out for luxuriant, creamy coconut milk, moist, fudgy palm sugar or maddeningly fragrant oil slicked spices and fatty meat. I'm still packing excess 'baggage' from Christmas, Chinese New Year and Valentine's Day, so I had to draw the line before I split my pants. I was toying with the idea of using coconut water instead of a coconut milk and water cocktail, but I thought it would make the rice taste too lean and downright mean, so low fat coconut milk was a happy and delicious compromise.

The slices were soft, chewy, moist and wonderfully beany, recalling both Japanese wagashi and Nyonya kueh. I had slice after slice, for breakfast, afternoon tea and dessert. Didn't bust the zipper or the seat of my pants, though I ate about three quarters of it myself over the course of a few days. The delicately delicious and spare flavours meld perfectly together and have an almost zen-like elementalism, so easy to appreciate after the inordinate richness of the past seasons' celebratory foods.

sticky rice and red bean cake

prep 6 hours (includes soaking)     cook 1 1/4 hrs      makes 24 thick slices

225 g (1 1/2 cups) red beans (ang tow or adzuki beans)
2 tsp baking soda
300 g (2 cups) sticky rice (pulut or glutinous rice)
200 ml (1 cup) low fat coconut milk
400 ml (2 cups) water
150 g (1 cup) sugar
1 tsp salt
4 pandan leaves, cut into short lengths or knotted

Remove any impurities from beans and wash several times. Drain well. Bring a large kettle of water to boil.

Put beans and baking soda into a large container and pour over boiling water until beans are completely covered in water. Stir to dissolve baking soda then cover and leave to soak for 6 hours to tenderise. In a separate container, wash, drain and then soak rice in cold water for 4 hours then drain and set aside.

Drain beans and wash several times to get rid of all traces of baking soda. Drain thoroughly. Prepare a steamer and bring to the boil.

In a mixing bowl, combine drained beans, drained rice, coconut milk, water,sugar, salt and pandan leaves. Stir gently but thoroughly to dissolve sugar and salt.

Line a 20 cm (8 in) square cake tin with double layers of cling wrap. Pour rice and bean mixture into tin and level ingredients so rice and beans are completely submerged in liquid.

Steam over high heat for 30 minutes then turn rice and beans over from bottom to top and vice versa. Rice should be cooked but still firm now. Level top of rice and steam again until rice and beans are tender. Remove from steamer and leave until comfortable enough to handle without burning your hand.

Using a gloved hand, press down firmly on surface of rice to pack down into tin and compress. Leave until competely cold then cut into slices with a wet or lightly oiled knife. Serve with black or green tea, coffee or soy milk, for breakfast, afternoon tea or at any time as a snack.


  1. Hi Denise! Happy belated V-Day!

    I have never tried this sweet version of the sticky rice cake before but I have always like glutinous rice dishes or dessert... Your sticky rice block looks so nicely compressed and cut. Neat.

    1. Hi Chef, thanks! Hope you and your wife had a wonderful V Day too :)

      Not surprised if you haven't tried this as I don't think there is such a local cake. It's my own spur of the moment recipe because I love sticky rice and red beans and wanted something sweet but not too fattening. I was very pleased with the result and will definitely make this again the next time I get a sweet craving.

  2. Lady!! do you know how danger this dessert is? oh my gosh!! totally insane, just look at your pictures and than you still need to add your a very *yummy* explanation? soft, chewy, moist and wonderfully ...oh..oh.. I'm dying! *I don't care with a box of chocolate my hubby gave for v'day I just want this!!! *glek* - this is kind of similar with WAJIK*in bahasa* but adding adzuki beans..make yours more better, I need to make this *sigh* forget about my plan to lose weight before Indonesian Trips next summer LOL - you are naughty girl!!

    have a wonderful V-day! eeh.. now we called 'Happy Friendship Day' (better eeh..)

    1. Haha! Yes definitely dangerous if you love pulut/ketan. But this version is quite safe. I think sweet sticky rice for south east asians, is like cheesecake or chocolate for westerners, so very very irresistible!! Whenever I see pulut, sweet or savoury, I cannot tahan, MUST eat or else I cannot stop thinking of it, like a pregnant woman kapan mengidam LOL Never mind. What to do? I think at this time of year, most food bloggers except for the lucky, super slim ones, are like growing children - all cannot fit into their favourite clothes LOLOL It's okay, we can be fat and happy together, at least for a while ; )

  3. I really do enjoy & love eating any kind of glutinuos rice. I simply adored the chewy texture & the smell of it. and am drooling on this one as well. Thanks for sharing another beautiful treat.

    1. Hi Kristy sayang :) I miss you dear! Hope your CNY and V Day were both happy.

      Pulut is really sedap!!!! I love it too! Whenever I see it, guaranteed to eat, or else I cannot sleep at night!

  4. The delicate pink of the rice is irresistable. Here's another sweet to add to my list of 'must eat' treats.
    Thank you, Denise. Beautiful photos,at the risk of repeating myself.

    1. Hi Usha, I love the soft maroony pink too, more so because it's completely natural! This is my new go to staying-on-the-right-side-of-60 kg dessert :P

      Are you kidding me??! Who ever gets tired of hearing "beautiful"? Repeat away.... PLEASE!! ;)

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  6. Denise I had such a giggle reading your post and your chat with Nisha too. You and Nisha hit it on the nail LOL. I'm sure we can all identify with your inability to tahan I mean resist these ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS looking puluts! O.M.G puluts are like an opened box of chocolates on the sofa in front of your favourite film on TV. Unstoppable!
    Personally I would liken puluts to the current trends of macarons & cupcakes. Pretty, petite, delicious and yep...dangerous! I put on 5 kilos just looking at your fabulous pictures. As a really amateur weekend cook its too adventurous for me to make them (I saw 'prep 6 hours' on top of your recipe and I broke out in hives) but its suddenly given me the urge to look for them at the Asian supermarket tomorrow. I think there's a Vietnamese version of it there. Cheers Denise!
    *deleted previous comment due to embarressing spelling mistakes*

  7. I love pulut too but have not made in ages. I keep my little stash at the bottom of my pantry so that it is easy to overlook it. For some reason, these cakes make me thing of "chang", something that will definitely burst the seams of my pants...hehe! These rice cakes look so tasty and much simpler to make. Only a quarter tray left for me?

  8. Thank you so much for this recipe. I wanted a sweet red bean and glutenous rice recipe that did not have eggs. I love mochi, but it's so much work to make.


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