The orient is home to an abundance of tantalising gastronomic options. Varying in styles and tastes, the various spices unite the ancient and regional recipes of the continent to satisfy all taste buds. Here are two sweet snacks which, though not time efficient, are worth the wait.Thailand’s Sticky Rice and Mango
Prep and cooking time: 4 hours
100g sticky rice (sushi rice)
80ml coconut milk
1 tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 ripe mango
1 tbsp coconut cream
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds and roasted almond flakes
Soak the sticky rice in water, coconut milk, or a mixture of the two for a few hours. Then drain and rinse the rice.
Put water at the bottom of a steamer and cover it with a j-cloth. Pour the rice onto the j-cloth and put the lid on. From here bring the water in the steamer to the boil and steam the rice over a medium/high heat for 25-30 minutes. The rice will turn translucent when done.
While this is happening combine the sugar and coconut milk and heat gently in a pan: constantly stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Do not allow the liquid to boil. Then add the salt and pour the milk over the cooked rice. Stir together and then set aside for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to soak in.
Slice off the two sides of the mango, the knife cutting parallel to the flat side of the pit. Now peel off the skin. Lay each mango half flat and cut lengthwise into medium slices.
To serve, if you wish, put the rice into a mound and turn it out. Then line the mango decoratively next to it. Pour the coconut cream over the rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds and roasted almond flakes.
Prep and cooking time: 40-45 minutes
10 small strawberries, about 10g each
100-120g anko (sweetened azuki bean paste)
100g shiratamako (glutinous rice flour)
50g of sugar
150ml of cold water
Katakuriko (potato starch) for dusting (corn starch can be substituted)
Rinse, dry and hull the strawberries. Then cover each with about 2 tsp of red bean paste. Put them in the fridge.
Sift flour into a large bowl and add the sugar. Then add the coconut milk and water. Whisk to create a smooth mixture without lumps.
Microwave: cook for 2 minutes at medium temperature, repeat once or twice. Rice cooker: cook for 10-12 minutes. In both cases stir the mixture at intervals, overall once or twice. The mixture should now be thick and slightly translucent.
While rice flour mixture is cooking generously cover a rimmed baking sheet with potato starch. When the rice mixture is ready pour it onto the sheet and cover it with potato starch. Pat down the mixture evenly to flatten and then cut into 10 either triangles or squares.
For each strawberry: place one piece of dough in your hand and stretch gently so it is big enough to cover the strawberry. Then gently dust off the starch on the upward facing side with a pastry brush. Place the strawberry in the centre tip side down and twist the edges of the dough to seal it. You should work quickly as the dough becomes stiffer as it dries.
Leave to rest for an hour and then dig in, they taste best when eaten immediately.