Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango in Sushi Form

thai coconut sticky rice recipe

With the mango season fast approaching and the good Ataulfo (sometimes labeled Manila) mangoes popping up here and there, I thought I would give my old Thai sweet coconut sticky rice and mango recipe a revisit and a makeover.

I won’t lie to you. Turning the famous Thai duo into sushi rolls does absolutely nothing in improving the taste; it only makes it more fun and interesting.

Truth: Thai coconut sticky rice and mango, when done right, is heavenly even if it’s served on a plastic ashtray. Thai coconut sticky rice and mango, when done horribly, will be appalling even if it’s served in a Lladró bowl.

To succeed at sweet coconut sticky rice with mango, you need to start with the right ingredients:

You need to use the right type of mango at the right stage of ripeness following the instructions on how to choose the right mango for Thai coconut sticky rice. This, in my most firmly-held and absolutely unswayable opinion, is the most important thing. A perfectly ripe, sweet-as-honey mango will save even a less-than-perfect batch of coconut sticky rice.

On the contrary, a perfectly-executed batch of coconut sticky rice will put on sackcloth, bury its head in ashes, and curse the day it was born if you pair it with a tart, stringy, tasteless mango. And while it’s possible to adjust the taste of the coconut sticky rice, it’s impossible to do anything to improve the taste and texture of a subpar mango.







thai sticky rice coconut recipe You also need to use the right type of sticky rice. The term, “sticky rice,” is too vague and used to refer to all kinds of high-starch, short-grain rice. The kind of sticky rice you want to use for this dessert is the long-grain, glutinous rice that is heavily used in Southeast Asian cuisine, especially Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese.










thai mango sticky rice recipeThis is not the most important factor, but it certainly does help when you use quality ingredients. Chaokoh is my favorite brand of canned coconut milk. I like its high fat content which is head and shoulder above the many brands out there that are either anemic or slimy. Low-fat coconut milk is not recommended.








thai coconut sticky rice mango recipeThen when it comes to presentation, knowing how to peel and slice a very, very ripe mango is helpful. Tastewise, you can hold a ball of the coconut sticky rice in one hand, a peeled whole mango in the other, and take bites from each alternately and it won’t make a difference. But if presentation means anything to you, you may want to consider the Thai way of peeling and slicing a ripe mango. If you’ve been to Thailand, you’ll notice that the traditional way of presenting the mango is to “fillet” it and cut the fillet crosswise. No superfluous gadgets required; just a sharp paring knife and some dexterity will do.




thai mango sticky rice recipeThen, of course, once you got all the ingredients and have been armed with the knowledge of how to handle them, making Thai Sweet Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango is very easy.








The sushi idea isn’t originally mine. I once had this dessert served in a similar way (the rice is outside, covering the fruit) at the now-closed Vong’s, by the famed Jean-Georges Vongerichten, in Chicago. It was made with out-of-season mango and some mushy raspberries, and I remember feeling so very disappointed. But at least, I gained an idea on how to serve Thai coconut sticky rice and mango in a fun, whimsical way.

First, you need to peel a ripe mango and slice it thinly lengthwise, with the knife blade on its side parallel to the pit. This is done more easily with a mandoline. If you don’t have a mandoline, make sure your knife is so sharp it can cut a cutting board in half. Without a super sharp knife, you really can’t pull this off.


thai mango sticky rice recipe
Then on a sushi mat, lined with a piece of plastic wrap, arrange the mango slices, overlapping, to form a 5×8 rectangle. Scoop prepared sweet coconut sticky rice onto the mango slices as shown.

thai mango sticky rice recipe
Then very gently and carefully roll everything up sushi-style, making sure the rice is entirely encased by the mango slices. Using the sushi mat, lightly squeeze the roll to get rid of air pockets. Gently remove the plastic wrap and cut the roll crosswise into 1-inch pieces.

Sprinkle some black sesame seeds on top (traditionally, fried hulled mung beans are used as the topping), if desired. Whatever you do, don’t pop these rolls into the refrigerator. They need to be made fresh and served right away. You can keep them at room temperature, covered, for an hour or so. But refrigeration will cause the rice to harden, and reheating it along with the fresh mango wrapper in inadvisable.

26 Responses to Thai Coconut Sticky Rice with Mango in Sushi Form

  1. Peggy May 27, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    This sounds wonderful. When mangoes are available in the stores I’m going to try this for my friends. Once again you’ve come up with a great idea.

  2. KennyT May 27, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    I heard that some people sprinkle some salted and sugared ground dried shrimp over this beautiful Thai dessert, may I know if you also eat this way sometimes?

  3. Kristen May 27, 2010 at 6:18 am #

    What a fabulous presentation! You are a star Leela!!!

  4. Colette May 27, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    I absolutely love your sushi presentation for the sweet coconut sticky rice & mango! I’m taking note on it! I love this sweet thai dish and I have only tried it over there (in Thailand)and the few times I’ve made it, and all have luckily been delicious!So, I have not yet tried a terrible one (for my taste ;))I have a question regarding the coconut milk. I know you advice chaokoh, which I have not been able to find…the best I’ve managed so far is AROY-D, what do you think of it? I find it decent, do you? If not, other than chaokoh is there any other brand you recommend? Thank you Leela!

  5. Leela May 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    Kenny – It’s possible what those people do is top the sweet coconut sticky rice with different toppings some which are sweet and some are half-sweet half-savory (a combo of sugar and pulverized dried fish is quite common – I like it, actually!). The sweet sticky rice is treated like a blank canvas on which you can paint anything.

    Ripe mango is just one of the things that are paired with it. Then it has become the most famous accompaniment. The second most famous is probably steamed coconut custard (sangkhaya). I guess it’s because mango and coconut custard hardly offend anyone unlike dried fish or dried shrimp with sugar mixed in which, let’s face it, is a bit unusual for non-Thais.

    But if what you were referring to was to add dried shrimp and sugar, etc., on top of the mango and sticky rice, then that’s weird. Even *I* don’t do that. Ick.

  6. 5 Star Foodie May 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    I absolutely love the idea of wrapping the rice in mango as in sushi, so cool!

  7. Leela May 28, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    Colette – GAH!! Answered Kenny’s question, but forgot to answer yours. My apologies. Other than Chaokoh, Mae Ploy is a pretty decent brand. Can you find Mae ploy where you live? If not, Aroy-D (sorry, I’m not too fond of that name … ) would work just fine. You may want to refrigerate the coconut milk first to get the fatty part to firm up, making it easier to scoop out of the can. You really want to use the fatty, creamy part (the “head,” literally in Thai).

  8. pigpigscorner May 28, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    What a great idea! I never thought mangoes could be used as a wrap, they always seem to fibrous and hard to me.

  9. Leela May 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    pigpigscorner – Hence the specific instructions on what kind of mango to use and how ripe they have to be before they can be used. Serving fibrous and hard mangoes in this dish is an act of cruelty … 🙂

  10. nooami May 28, 2010 at 10:36 pm #

    Awesome! Never thought it could be presented this way. I am off to Thailand in a few weeks and can’t wait to see all those beautiful mango varieties. I am also salivating thinking about the green mango and the dipping sauce.

  11. Angry Asian June 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    this is beautiful and makes me crave this dessert so badly. surprisingly, i haven’t seen many mangos at the asian markets yet. i’ve never attempted the art of making sticky rice, much less coconut sticky rice.
    oh leela, how you tempt me into doing random things in the kitchen!

  12. Tangled Noodle June 29, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    I adore Thai sticky rice with steamed custard, even over mango. With that said, I love sweet sticky rice above all other desserts, regardless of what tops it or how it is presented. These ‘sushi’ rolls are lovely!

  13. Anonymous July 28, 2010 at 4:54 pm #

    your search link does not work. trying to find recipes that has coconut milk in it.

  14. Leela July 28, 2010 at 4:57 pm #

    Anonymous – Yeah, that search function doesn’t work on Firefox for some reason. While I’m figuring out a way to fix that, please try Chrome, Safari, or, if you dare, IE. Sorry about that. Thanks.

  15. April 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    What a great post! This would be such a fun dish to bring to my friend’s brunch next weekend. So glad I found your blog!

  16. Beck September 1, 2011 at 5:23 am #

    I do not live anywhere that has decent mangos EVER– but I love this dish— what do you recommend???

  17. Admin September 1, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Beck – Use the best mangoes you can find in the market. Make sure they’re ripe. I wish I could think of other fruits that would go with the sticky rice. 🙁 Nothing comes to mind.

  18. Anonymous September 8, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    thiS is so good!! I’m so lucky I was able to come across your blog!! were having our thai cuisine in our culinary arts subject and i’m going to prepare this dish for our exam the presentation was perfect!! Love it!! keep it up!!

  19. The Mistress of Spices October 6, 2011 at 3:33 pm #

    This is a lovely idea! I’m definitely going to try my hand at this as a dessert for my next Thai meal.

  20. esther (ambitious deliciousness) April 20, 2012 at 6:55 pm #

    This looks awesome!! I came across your site while looking for a recipe. I may have to borrow your idea – the one you borrowed from Jean Georges and link back to you. 😀

  21. Me August 10, 2012 at 1:39 am #


  22. Me August 10, 2012 at 1:47 am #

    Is there a way to replace sticky rice with some other kind of rice? Sticky rice are not available at all in our country! I know mango and sticky rice are the authentic version but still I wish there was a way. Can you give me some hope please?!
    I MISS Thailand!

    PS All your food photos are aesthetically captured as well. Everything looks much more authentic and decent.

  23. Admin August 10, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    Me – Thank you!

    You can get away with using any starchy, short-grain rice that becomes sticky when cooked, such as Arborio, Vialone Nano, Mochigome, or anything you have over there that fits the description. Warning: the method of preparation needs to change if you’re not using Thai sticky rice. Instead of cooking it with vapor which is the method required for Thai sticky rice, you need to cook your short-grain rice in liquid. In other words, add all the ingredients into the pot along with the rice and cook everything together all at once. Play with the amount of liquid as different types of rice behave differently.

  24. Wanda January 6, 2013 at 12:33 am #

    This is so beautiful! Now I cannot wait until mangoes are back in season so I can finally make this!

  25. Pam H July 24, 2013 at 8:26 am #

    Our local Thai restaurant serves this with purple rice, covered in warmed coconut milk, sliced mango on the side. My husband loves it so I’m excited to see a recipe for this. Is purple rice something that is commercially available or is it just dyed?