Years ago my husband (before he was my husband) and I began the tradition of staying home on Valentine’s Day and making pizzas together. The tradition began largely based on our shared belief that few restaurants could dependably deliver something we would enjoy as much as our own homemade pizzas and a good bottle of red wine. Only slightly less compelling was the fact that there are few things I’d like to do less on a cold, snowy weeknight in February than put on a heels and a dress to go out to a crowded restaurant.
The fact that our pizza stone does not fit in our tiny Thai oven goes well with our line of pizza stone disasters. We have spent years achieving the near impossible and cracking pizza stones. In our first year of dating we managed to crack two of the four unstained floor tiles, which had been around for years since becoming my budget pizza stone solution in college. They split simultaneously, with a loud pop, at a temperature that was definitively lower than I had used them to cook hundreds of pizzas in the past.
I don’t have strong feelings about this Hallmarky holiday. I don’t typically take issue with the commercialism and shameless pushing of pink and red heart-covered itmes. Frank and I have no trouble finding excuses and ways to celebrate all of the things that we’ve been blessed with, particularly one another, so I welcome another day for that. This year, however, we have decided to shake up the Valentine’s Day routine, and Frank is taking me out to dinner. (For Italian, to be exact!) Due to a series of unfortunate events, however, we will not go out today, but will save our date for later in the week. And tonight, I am making fish tacos, instead of the standard pizzas (seeing as our pizza stone doesn’t fit in the oven).
The only Valentine’s Day tradition upon which I absolutely insist is dessert. I don’t really need an excuse for dessert in any circumstance, but will gladly take the excuse for one…or two, as the case may be today. Today I made a project of making a Thai dessert with which I’m sure you are acquainted…mango with sticky rice.
Although I was intimidated by the making of sticky rice, I easily rigged up a perfectly suitable steamer by placing a colander inside a large pot. Fill the pot with water so that it comes to just below the bottom of the colander, and bring the water to a boil. Wrap the sticky rice in cheesecloth to minimize the mess and put it in the colander. Put the lid on the pot and viola – sticky rice steamer! 20 minutes later, out comes perfectly cooked sticky rice.
Oh, and in addition to the mango and sticky rice, we are also having my husband’s recent find – Mochi ice cream. (But, shhhh, don’t tell him until after dinner.) To get the mochi ice cream I had to brave a giant Bangkok mall, which was absolutely, from wall to wall, full of people carrying single roses wrapped in brightly colored paper. Having rarely seen a single rose in this city, today, they were out in full force. There were roses EVERYWHERE.
In addition to the delightful mochi, was the delightful fact that the mochi ice cream vendor packed the treats in…dry ice. (Thai purveyors of cold goods have developed all sorts of methods to insure that purchases get home intact through the heat.) I opened the well-packed mochi in our apartment to a cloud of dry ice-fog.
Happy Valentine’s Day to you.
- ½ cup uncooked glutinous (sticky) rice
- ½ cup sweetened shaved coconut
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 Tbps. sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 ripe mango, cut into slices
- -8 hours before preparing the dessert: Rinse the glutious rice well, until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in water for at least 3 and no more than 8 hours. (Any length of time in this range will work fine.)
- Toast the shaved coconut until golden brown, about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, stirring every few minutes to insure it cooks evenly. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Place a colander in a large pot (that has a matching lid). Fill with a couple inches of water so that the water does not quite reach the bottom of the colander. Bring water to a boil and reduce to a low simmer. Meanwhile, drain the sticky rice and wrap it tightly in a piece of cheesecloth, tying the top together to seal the rice inside. Place the rice in the center of the colander and place the lid on the pot. Allow rice to steam for 20 minutes while preparing the coconut milk.
- In a small sauce pan heat the coconut milk, sugar and salt until the liquid is warm to the touch. Turn off the heat. When the sticky rice has completed steaming, empty the rice into a small bowl. Pour the warmed coconut milk over the rice, stirring quickly to combine and cover the bowl with a plate or foil. Allow the rice to soak in the liquid for 10 minutes.
- Divide the rice into two portions and divide between two plates. Sprinkle each with toasted coconut milk and serve with mango slices on the side.