Durian Sticky Rice

A Brief Introduction

For Vietnam is an agricultural country, there are many different varieties of rice grown all over the country’s vast rice fields. The Vietnamese people believe that rice is the pearls of the gods, and for centuries, rice has been used mainly in many different dishes in Vietnamese cuisine. Among different types of rice you can find in Vietnam, white rice or jasmine rice, brown rice, red rice, purple rice, there is also a special type of rice called glutinous rice or sticky rice. In East Asia as a whole, sticky rice is very popular since it appears in more than one country’s cuisine. However, since Vietnam is not only an agricultural country but it is also a tropical country, the Vietnamese people often incorporate exotic tropical fruits and vegetables into a lot of different sticky rice delicacies. Today, I would like to introduce you to another one of my favorite childhood desserts, Durian sticky rice.

What is durian sticky rice?

First thing first, let’s start with the star of this dish, the durian. In Southeast Asia, hot weather and humidity yield a perfect environment for tropical fruits to grow. Among many of them, durian is a one-of-a-kind fruit for its incredibly strong smell and spiky look. From the outside, a durian’s color often ranges from husk green to brown, and its rind is always covered with a lot of prickly thorns. From the inside, the durian’s flesh has a yellowish color. What makes this fruit special as well as controversial is its strange smell. For people who like the durian, the fruit has a pleasantly sweet fragrance. On the other hand, those who cannot stand the durian think its aroma is overpowering and very unpleasant. Despite the controversy revolving around, the durian is still considered the king of fruits.

By combining the king of fruits and the pearl of the gods into the same dish, the Vietnamese people enjoy Durian Sticky rice on a lot of different occasions. As long as there is a gathering, chances are there is durian sticky rice. What makes durian sticky rice special is that durian and sticky rice are not the only ingredients in this dish. Traditionally, to prepare durian sticky rice, we start off with soaking the raw sticky rice in diluted coconut milk until they all swell up. This would help the sticky rice to absorb the fragrance and the creaminess of the coconut milk. We also soak mung beans in water for about half as long as we soak the sticky rice, then combine these two ingredients together to steam. Since the durian pulps and coconut milk are such delicate ingredients, we add them at the end of the cooking process to make sure they get just enough heat to infuse their fragrance into the rice. By the time the cooking process is finished, all that is left is to let the stick rice cool down and serve. Normally, because there is already durian meat mixed into the sticky rice, we don’t need any additional toppings. However, in order to make this dessert fancier, we can always add one or two durian pulps to it.

Vietnamese Durian Sticky Rice

The king of durians

I have always been a durian lover, so every time I think of durian, I instantly think of this delightful dessert. Recently, I have found that the best durians in the world are not from neither Vietnam nor Thailand, although Thai durians have huge pulps. Instead, the best durians are from Malaysia, and they are known as Musang King durian. Last summer, I bought them to try with my homemade durian sticky rice, and I must admit that they really live up to the name. I am glad I found this new ingredient so I can combine it with a recipe from my childhood.

Durian has always been my favorite exotic fruit, what is yours? Have you ever tried either durian, sticky rice, or durian sticky rice? If you have not, try either one of them or all of them sometimes. Maybe they can become your favorite too.

Vietnamese Red Bean Dessert

A Brief History…

From a very long time ago, red beans had been used as the main ingredient in many different Asian cuisines, especially to make mouth-watering sweet and healthy desserts. What makes Asian cuisine stand out is the made-fresh-from-scratch ingredients. In traditional cooking, many Asian countries often use farm-to-table ingredients. This is understandable since almost all Asian countries are widely known for agriculture. Red beans are also called azuki beans. They are one of mother nature’s most generous gifts to man. Since Asia is a vast continent, the use of red beans also varies from regions. In the northeastern subregion of Asia, including countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, red beans are often used to make a sweet paste known as red bean paste. Red bean paste is popular not only in the past but also in the present day. It is often used as the filling of those lovely chewy and stretchy mochi. Red bean paste can also be used as a topping in many other sweet desserts.

Sweet Red Bean Paste

My Sweet Memory

Every time I think of my childhood’s favorite dessert or snack, I think of “Che Dau Do” or “Vietnamese red bean dessert.” This delightful dessert is not only delicious, but it is also one of the simplest yet very healthy dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. While red beans were used to make a sweet paste in the upper region of Asia, in the lower region, Southeast Asia, red beans are often pressure-cooked to perfection and served in small bowls topped with sweet cane syrup and coconut milk. In Vietnam, red bean dessert is enjoyed for more than one reason. Since Vietnam is a tropical country, the weather is sunny all year round. Some days, the temperature can reach 90 – 100 degrees Fahrenheit easily. As a result, the Vietnamese people often eat red bean dessert as a refreshing snack during the day, because this wonderful dessert can be eaten warm or cold depending on the eater’s preference. In Vietnam, you can find red bean dessert almost everywhere since it is a popular street food as it is a dessert.

Another reason red bean dessert is widely adored and enjoyed in Vietnam is because of its name and its ingredients. Starting with the name, in Vietnamese language, bean means “đậu,” which rhymes with the word “passing,” and red means “đỏ,” which rhymes with the word “luck.” Not only in Vietnam but also in many other Asian countries, the red color is believed to bring good luck. Although it is not scientifically proven, Asian people, especially the Vietnamese still believe that the red bean dessert’s name means good luck and prosperity to those who enjoy it. This is also the reason why red bean desserts made my childhood favorite. Since I grew up in a working-class family, my parents did not want my sisters and me to grow up into just common people. Instead, they wanted us to study as hard as we could so that we could achieve as much success as possible. Thus, every time either one of us is preparing for a big examination, the family will gather after dinner to eat “Che Dau Do” and wish good luck. This was also the best moment since we got to sit together, eat a tasty treat, and have encouraging conversations. Every time I think of this dessert, it reminds me of how much my parents loved me and my sisters. No matter how hard they had to work, they kept pushing tirelessly just so they could build us a brighter future.

Vietnamese red bean dessert is my favorite childhood memory, what is your favorite? And what memory does it remind you of?

My Story

Growing up in the countryside of a Southeast Asian country, my childhood revolved around tropical climate, rainy weather, and scorching hot summers. Although the weather seemed to be unpleasant, Mother Nature, on the other hand, was very generous to the Vietnamese people. Being geographically located in the tropical zone, Vietnam is without a doubt a heaven when it comes to fruits and vegetables. According to our belief, since these ultra-fresh ingredients are precious gifts from the gods, we must express our gratitude by making as much food as possible instead of wasting them, and this is one of the reasons why the Vietnamese cuisine is renowned for its variety of heart-warming comfort foods and delightful desserts.

I have always been passionate about making mouth-watering desserts and connecting with people. My love and passion for desserts started when I was a child. Since my parents were always busy with their jobs and the family business, my older sisters and I often spent a lot of time together doing chores around the house so our parents did not have to worry about it after a tiresome day. As the youngest child, my task was easier and less heavy than those of my older sisters. Most of the time, my sisters were responsible for cooking and preparing the main course, and I was responsible for making dessert. As of this point, some of you may find it is hard to believe that we had to do the cooking for the whole family even though we were just kids, but this was the norm in my country back in the days. Starting with easier recipes, I gradually worked my skills up to more complex ones. As I started a new life in the United States, I do not get to spend time with my family like we used to do. I often miss the times when after finishing the main course, we start to dig through the colorful dessert I made for the family. Some days it tastes better than the others, but my parents always complement it no matter what, and those were the most beautiful times we got to spend together. 

Recently, as I made more friends from both school and work, I realized that I am not the only one who misses the familiar tastes of their soul foods. According to many of my colleagues, dessert was also the biggest part to remind them of the sweetest memories they spent with their families. Though we are away from our family, my friends and I often gather on special occasions and share our own ethnic foods or desserts with each other. By enjoying one another’s food, I can see that the bonds between us grow stronger each time. 

Based on this experience, I have decided to start researching and sharing dessert recipes around the world through this blog with the hope to connect with people from all over the world. I believe that comfort food has the power to bring people closer from one culture to another. I hope you will join me on this journey so we can explore the wonderful world of desserts together. 

Quick question, what would you like for dessert?