WHAT IS STICKY RICE?
Chinese sticky rice (糯米飯) is classic homestyle comfort food. Made with long-grain glutinous rice (sometimes called sweet rice), sticky rice is chewier and more gummy than regular white rice. Asian supermarkets stock glutinous rice, and is usually produced in Thailand. It is much less expensive to purchase rice from Asian grocers, but you can find it here on Amazon. Note that this varietal of long-grain glutinous rice is different from Japanese-style short-grain sweet rice, mochigome (もち米).
Because glutinous rice is denser than regular white rice, it takes longer to cook. Typically, people soak glutinous rice overnight before steaming the rice. Soaking the rice shortens the cooking time. (Note: It is not common to boil sticky rice in a saucepan because the direct heat scorches the rice at the bottom, causing the rice to stick.)
The beauty of Instant Pot sticky rice is that you can skip the rice soaking step. The rice won’t take too long to cook, and the texture of the rice is great. Also, you can just set the Instant Pot and walk away without needing to check on the rice periodically.
TEXTURE OF STICKY RICE
One of the hallmarks of sticky rice is its gummy and sticky texture, but people often disagree about the optimal level of gumminess. If you’re like me, you like it more moist and gummy (see photo above, right). Mama Lin, on the other hand, likes the rice to be barely gummy; the grains of rice are still separated and you can see individual grains clearly (see photo above, left). She’ll probably say that I use a little too much water to cook the rice. Because individual preferences vary greatly, I have described several cooking methods in the recipe below.
For the main recipe, I use slightly more water (1 1/3 cups), but the result is the most flavorful of the cooking methods. Inside the Instant Pot, I steam the rice with shallots, dried shrimp (蝦米), dried scallops (江瑤柱), Chinese sausage (臘腸), and Chinese cured pork (臘肉), (what I call “flavoring bits”). Cooking the rice with the flavoring bits allows the rice to absorb more umami flavor. However, this method requires using slightly more water to ensure that the rice cooks evenly in the Instant Pot.
In the recipe notes, I describe a cooking method that uses less water so that the rice is less gummy. You’ll only add half the shallots, dried shrimp, and dried scallops to the rice as it cooks in the Instant Pot. Once the rice is fully cooked, you can add the rest of the flavoring bits (Chinese sausage, cured pork, etc.).
HOW TO COOK INSTANT POT STICKY RICE
- Instant Pot
- short steaming rack
- stainless steel bowl that fits inside the Instant Pot (no wider than 8 inches; mine is about 8″ wide and 5″ high, I can’t remember where I got my bowl)
For this Instant Pot sticky rice recipe, you don’t want to cook the rice directly inside the inner pot. If you do, the rice at the bottom will be scorched and stuck to the inner pot (see photo above). Instead, you want to steam the rice inside a bowl that fits inside the Instant Pot. Try to use a stainless steel bowl because it conducts heat better, ensuring that the rice will cook evenly. You’ll also need a short steaming rack for the stainless steel bowl to rest on.
SET UP INSTANT POT & RINSE RICE
Fill the inner pot with 1 1/2 cups of water and place the steaming rack inside (see photo below).
Next, rinse 1 1/2 cups of glutinous rice with 3 changes of water to get rid of some excess starch. Drain the water and transfer the rice into the stainless steel bowl. Pour 1 1/3 cups water over the rice, ensuring that the water is covering the rice completely. If you want the rice to be more separated and less moist, add 1 cup or 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water, depending on how moist you want the rice to be. Again, make sure that the water is covering the rice completely.
STIR FRY FLAVORING BITS
I learned from Mama Lin that quickly sautéing the flavoring bits before adding them to the rice will enhance the flavor of the rice. You’ll notice in my recipe that I only cook half of the flavoring bits in the rice in the Instant Pot. I noticed that if you overload the rice with the flavoring bits over the rice, the rice will not cook evenly (i.e., you’ll find a chunk of rice that’s only partially cooked).
That’s why I recommend cooking the flavoring bits in batches. Quickly sauté half of the flavoring bits that you’ll cook with the rice in the Instant Pot. Then, sauté the remaining half of the flavoring bits and add when the rice finishes cooking.
FINISHING THE DISH
Once, the rice is done cooking, I usually wait an extra 15 minutes for the pressure to release naturally. I think the extra time gives the rice a chance to fluff up even more. However, if you are pressed for time, release the pressure manually by moving the pressure release to “vent” or “venting,” depending on which Instant Pot model you have.
After the pressure has released, open the lid of the Instant Pot, drizzle 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over the rice, and add in the rest of the flavoring bits. Mix everything together. Serve the rice with sliced scallions, peanuts, sesame seeds, and fried shallots, if you like.
DOES STICKY RICE REHEAT WELL?
Yes! Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. To reheat, scoop a portion of the rice into a bowl and microwave for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, depending on the amount you’re reheating. The rice should be nice and soft when you pull it out of the microwave. Alternatively, you can pan fry the sticky rice in a nonstick pan. Make sure it’s non-stick or else the rice will stick to the pan.
CAN I FREEZE STICKY RICE?
Yes! Transfer the cooled sticky rice to a freezer bag and store for up to 2 months. To reheat, defrost the rice inside the bag. Then, microwave the rice for 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, depending on the amount of rice you are reheating. You can also pan fry the sticky rice in a non-stick pan.
CAN I COOK MORE STICKY RICE AT A TIME?
I tested the recipe with 2 cups of rice several times but the results were inconsistent. There was always a small bit of rice in the center towards the top that never fully cooked. You can try cooking 2 cups of rice if you want to. I would cook 2 cups of rice with 1 1/2 cups water and cook the rice only with the shallots, scallop, and shrimp only. Then, cook and mix the rest of the flavoring bits once the sticky rice is done cooking.
Alternatively, steam the sticky rice using Mama Lin’s steamed sticky rice recipe. You can skip the taro, but you will need to scale the amount of rice and water slightly.
Finally, you can also use a rice cooker. Zojirushi rice cookers have a sweet rice cooking setting that is made for cooking glutinous rice. Use the measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker to measure the rice. The inner pot has etchings that show you how much water to use for the corresponding amount of sweet rice.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH INSTANT POT STICKY RICE
- Chinese Garlic Green Beans
- Chinese Garlic Cucumber Salad
- Asian Sticky Chicken Thighs
- Pan-Fried Teriyaki Tofu
Chinese-Style Instant Pot Sticky Rice
- 1 1/2 cups (300g) glutinous rice
- 1 1/3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable, canola or any neutral oil, divided
Flavoring Bits (see note 2)
- 1 tablespoon dried scallops, see note 3
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
- 1/3 cup chopped shallots, can sub with onions
- 2/3 cup chopped Chinese sausage, about 2 links
- 1/3 cup chopped Chinese cured pork
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon cooking rice wine, optional
- 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, optional
- 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions
- sliced scallions
- fried shallots
- toasted sesame seeds
- chopped toasted peanuts
- Instant Pot
- short steaming rack
- stainless steel bowl that fits inside the Instant Pot, no wider than 8″
- Give the dried scallops and dried shrimp a quick rinse. Set them aside. If you are using tiny dried scallops, you do not need to soak them before cooking. If you use larger dried scallops, soak them for 1 to 2 hours first. (See note 4)
- Pour 1 1/2 cups water into the inner pot of the Instant Pot. Place a short steaming rack inside the pot.
- Rinse the glutinous rice with 3 changes of water to get rid of some excess starch. Don’t worry if the water doesn’t run completely clear at the end. Drain the rice.
- Transfer the rice to a stainless steel bowl that fits inside the Instant Pot. Measure the reserved water that you used to soak the dried scallops. Check to see if you have 1 1/3 cups of water total. If not, add a little more. Pour the water over the rice, making sure that the water completely covers the rice. (See note 4)
- In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over high heat. Add half the chopped shallots and sauté them for 30 seconds. Add half of the Chinese sausage, chopped Chinese cured pork, scallops, and shrimp (“flavoring bits”) and sauté for 30 seconds more. Season everything with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon rice wine, and 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder, if using (see note 5). Stir to coat the flavoring bits with the seasonings. Turn off the heat.
- Carefully transfer the flavoring bits to the bowl with the soaking glutinous rice. Spread the flavoring bits out over the rice (see photos in blog post for reference). Place the stainless steel bowl in the Instant Pot, resting above the steaming rack.
- Set the Instant Pot to cook on high pressure for 25 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release completely (about 15 to 18 minutes) before opening the lid. If you are pressed for time, release the pressure manually by moving the pressure release to “vent” or “venting.”
- When the rice is nearly done steaming, cook the remaining flavoring bits. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped shallots and cook for 30 seconds. Next, add the remaining chopped Chinese sausage and cured pork and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Then, add the peas and scallions and cook for about another minute. Turn off the heat.
- Once all the pressure has been released, open the lid of the Instant Pot. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over the rice and add the remaining flavoring bits on top (see note 6). Mix everything together evenly.
- Serve the sticky rice in bowls. Top the sticky rice with sliced scallions, fried shallots, toasted sesame seeds, and chopped toasted peanuts, if desired.
- For less gummy sticky rice: The preparation is basically the same except for 2 key differences: (1) Use less water to cook the rice. For sticky rice where the grains are separated and the texture is barely gummy, use 1 cup of water. If you want rice that’s a little more moist, use 1 cup + 2 tablespoons water. (2) Add fewer flavoring bits to the rice while it steams. Sauté only half of the shallots, dried shrimp, and scallops only. Season with 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon rice wine, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Then, spread these flavoring bits over the uncooked rice. Cook the rice on high pressure for 25 minutes. Sauté the remaining flavoring bits with 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce. Once the rice is cooked, release the pressure and follow steps 9 and 10.
- Substitutions: If you don’t have dried scallops or dried shrimp, soak 3 dried shiitake mushrooms until they plump up. Then, chop the mushrooms into small pieces.
- Dried scallops come in different sizes. I used about 9 small ones. If you have medium-sized dried scallops, use 2 of them.
- While larger scallops require soaking, it is not necessary to soak small dried scallops and dried shrimp beforehand because they will soften in the Instant Pot. However, soaking the scallops allow you to shred them up so they’re more evenly distributed in the rice, which is what I did in the photos. Soak the scallops for 1 to 2 hours, until the scallops soften. Drain the scallops but save the water because you can use it to cook the rice. Quickly shred the scallops with your fingers.
- Mama Lin says that the rice wine balances out the fishy aroma of the dried seafood. Feel free to leave it out if you don’t have rice wine. She also adds chicken bouillon powder to her sticky rice as it enhances the umami flavor of the dish. If you don’t have any, feel free to leave it out or use porcini mushroom powder instead.
- The sticky rice tastes better when you add the final tablespoon of soy sauce at the end instead of cooking the rice with the additional soy sauce.