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:
Rinse 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?