Xoi Vo – Vietnamese Sticky Rice with Mung Beans


Xoi vo (pronunciation: soy vah) basically means sticky rice that’s been rolled through your hands.  It’s Vietnamese comfort food to me, of the simplest form.  There’s tons of different ways to make xoi (sticky rice).  You can add yellow or green mung beans, hominy, coconut milk, shredded coconut, and other things to it.  My dad loves this stuff and I got it from him.  He used to take me to little food stops in Little Saigon in Orange County, the largest Vietnamese enclave in the United States, and we’d just hang out, talk, and eat xoi as well as other fun Vietnamese snacks.

Actually, some of my favorite memories with my dad have been food-related, like the time he came to eat lunch with me while I was in kindergarten.  Thinking of my dad, sitting on a kiddie table with a short kiddie chair, eating gross cafeteria Sloppy Joes with me still cracks me up to this day.  I was so proud to have my dad come to my school to eat lunch with me.  When I was older and car-less in college, my dad would pick me up on Fridays to go home for the weekend.  But since there was too much traffic on Friday nights (hello, California, your traffic sucks), we’d stop somewhere to eat sushi, Indian food, Vietnamese food, or whatever.  It was my favorite way to end the week.

Now that I’m in Hawaii, where there isn’t much variety in terms of Vietnamese cuisine with the exception of pho, I’m getting desperate.  Like, so desperate that I have to suck it up and attempt to make xoi vo for the first time in my life, impromptu-style.

I remember how my mom would make it – steam the sticky rice, steam the mung beans separately, lay it all out on a counter, and roll the whole thing between your hands until the mung beans coat the sticky rice.  I made a small batch, just 5 cups’ worth, but I must say, I was just SO DANG PROUD OF MYSELF!  I totally should have made more because my husband is scavenging the bowl now.  Mung beans are a go-to ingredient for a lot of vegetarians because they are so versatile and add protein and fiber to the meal.  It adds a creamy-like texture and sweet nutty taste to the rice.  So here’s the recipe, full with step-by-step photos, because instructions itself with this kind of a recipe can be confusing.  And sorry, I’m not giving exact measurements of water for cooking the rice, because I didn’t measure it out.  It’s intuition, baby!  (If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to the package directions, ha!).

Xoi Vo: Vietnamese Sticky Rice with Mung Beans

makes about 5 cups

1 & 1/2 cups white glutinous rice (also called sticky rice, mochi rice, sweet rice), rinsed once

1 cup dried yellow split mung beans (peeled)

1 tsp canola oil

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

A couple tablespoons light coconut milk or dried unsweetened shredded coconut, optional


1.  I make my sticky rice in a rice cooker.  You can steam it, microwave, or cook it over the stove according to the package’s instructions.  In a rice pot, add the sticky rice.  Add about an inch more of water above the surface of the rice, and soak it for about an hour or two.  When it’s done soaking, pour out a little bit of the water, until you’ve got about half the length of your fingernail above the rice’s surface (I know, I’m so exact).


2.  Now, pop it into your rice cooker, press the “cook” button, and let it do it’s magic!  If at the end of the cooking, you’ve got some opaque grains left, add a few tablespoons of water, cover the lid, and keep warm until cooked.  Don’t freak out.  It’s the worst thing to do.

3.  These are what yellow split mung beans look like.  Little fun beans of joy:

IMG_4549Rinse these twice, and soak them in warm water for about 1 – 2 hours, until you can break one bean with your fingernail.  Rinse the beans once more, then drain.

4.  Set up your steamer with a good amount of water already boiling.  In my steamer, the holes are too big and the mung beans would easily have fallen through.  I laid down two layers of aluminum foil, poked a few holes on the sides, and scattered the beans on the bottom.  Leave the heat on high, cover, and boil away, for about 35-40 minutes.


5.  Fifteen to twenty minutes in to your steaming, take the lid off the steamer, and mash down the beans with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, breaking up the beans until they’re powdery-like.  Do this mashing about 3-4 times in that 40 minute steaming period to achieve an even, powdery consistency.


6.  When you’re done mashing down the mung beans, designate a working area on your counter.  I just slapped down a Silpat and started on it.  Pile your mung beans in the middle.  Add 3 cups of cooked sticky rice on the side.  Mix the canola oil, sugar, salt, and optional coconut milk/shredded coconut with the mung beans.  Using your rubber spatula, incorporate the rice into the mung beans, coating the rice.  You can also knead the ingredients together and roll the rice in between your hands, so that the mung beans get into every surface of the rice.  Do this until incorporated and you have chunks of mung-bean coated rice.



The finished product!


Now I want to know: What’s YOUR comfort food?

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18 Responses to Xoi Vo – Vietnamese Sticky Rice with Mung Beans

  1. great job! we also made this several weeks ago….xoi is one of those things we take for granted!

  2. Phi says:

    I’m so glad we got to “discuss” this. Congrats for awesome and chewy/deliciousness. Hmm… I like all kinds of chewy/gewy/starchy foods. And I like how you said you only made 5 cups haha that’s a good amount. But not like family party food amount. =)

  3. Phi says:

    Ps I like your sesame topping. And really sweet memories with your dad. =)

  4. lo says:

    Brilliant simplicity is what you’ve got there. And isn’t that what comfort food is all about?

    Great food stories you’ve shared with us here — makes the meal all the richer.

  5. nutrition to kitchen says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Phi – That sesame topping was something my MIL brought over to eat with the xoi she made and it’s been sitting in my cupboard for a few months – finally could get some use out of it!

    Lo – Thanks for reading and commenting! Yep I agree, I don’t hear many people say that their comfort food is something complicated, but rather foods like chicken soup, mac and cheese, simple and homey. :)

  6. My comfort food is fine dark chocolate, daily. With tea, usually red.
    But I love this post. I have the ingredients and make other things with them, separately. I have never steamed mung beans. I’ll have to try it. Beautiful pictures!

  7. nutritioulicious says:

    I am so impressed! That doesn’t look like the easiest recipe to make ;-)
    My comfort food is mac ‘n cheese – yes, even dietitians like this one! Growing up it was one of the few things I ate (I was so picky), and to this day I love it!

  8. Sweta says:

    Oh yum!! We make a similar savory dish in India and it’s called ‘kichidi’ in the North and ‘pongal’ in South India. Pongal is made during the harvest festival and there are two versions made-the sweet and the savory. I used to love the sweet version as a kid,but now have acquired a taste for the savory version too :)
    As far as comfort food-nothing to beat a plate of steaming rice with dal(and a dollop of ghee) and some veg curry!!

  9. nutrition to kitchen says:

    Sweta – that sounds really delicious – I love vegetarian curry too!

    Linda – You already have mung beans in your pantry?! Wow, I’m so impressed!

    Nutricioulicious: Mac n cheese IS good!

  10. Mario says:

    Oh my god! I love rice! I gotta check this one out. Rice is my comfort food, with some cut up chicken and egg. To die for!

  11. “Little fun beans of joy” LOL.

    The recipe looks wonderful. I love these kinds of foods — at least I think so; it all just sounds good and definitely comforting. I grew up eating chicken fried steak and gravy as comfort foods. Not my cup of tea these days. More lol. :)

  12. Lele says:

    Mmm one of my fave comfort foods is also Vietnamese- pho!

  13. Quyen says:

    back in the 60′s & early 70′s, in a restaurant in Cholon, VN; Xoi Vo was served as a complement for roast chicken. I finally figure out how to make the roast chicken taste similar to the one from the restaurant; now, thanks, I can make xoi vo to go with it. Mm Mm

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  15. annabellabean says:

    does anyone have any idea what the caloric count (or some nutrition facts of any sort) might be at all for this dish? it’s one of my favorites to buy in chinatown but i have a feeling it’s pretty dense.. :/

  16. Mai says:

    thank you so much for this recipe! i’m from CA where vietnamese food abounds, but i’m now living on the east coast where mom’s home cooking and little saigon are lacking. my mom freezes xoi vo for me to fly back with whenever i come home to visit, but now with your recipe, i can try to make this dish on my own! i also love your bi chay recipe, another dish which my mom freezes for me to bring back. thanks for a great blog and for highlighting vietnamese food!

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