Glutinous rice ( also called sticky rice, sweet rice or waxy rice) is a type of rice grown mainly in Southeast and East Asia, which has opaque grains, very low amylose content, and is especially sticky when cooked. It is called glutinous in the sense of being glue-like or sticky, and not in the sense of containing gluten. While often called "sticky rice", it differs from non-glutinous strains of japonica rice which also become sticky to some degree when cooked. There are numerous cultivars of glutinous rice, which include japonica, indica, and tropical japonica strains.
In China, glutinous rice has been grown for at least 2,000 years.
Glutinous rice is grown in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Northeast India, China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines. An estimated 85% of Lao rice production is of this type. The rice has been recorded in the region for at least 1,100 years.
The improved rice varieties (in terms of yield) adopted throughout Asia during the Green Revolution were non-glutinous, and Lao farmers rejected them in favor of their traditional sticky varieties. Over time, higher-yield strains of glutinous rice have become available from the Lao National Rice Research Programme. By 1999, more than 70% of the area along the Mekong River Valley were of these newer strains.
Glutinous rice is distinguished from other types of rice by having no (or negligible amounts of) amylose, and high amounts of amylopectin (the two components of starch). Amylopectin is responsible for the sticky quality of glutinous rice. The difference has been traced to a single mutation that was selected for by farmers.
Like all types of rice, glutinous rice does not contain dietary gluten (i.e. does not contain glutenin and gliadin), and should be safe for gluten-free diets.
Glutinous rice can be used either milled or unmilled (that is, with the bran removed or not removed). Milled glutinous rice is white in color and fully opaque (unlike non-glutinous rice varieties, which are somewhat translucent when raw), whereas the bran can give unmilled glutinous rice a purple or black color. Black and purple glutinous rice are distinct strains from white glutinous rice. In developing Asia, there is little regulation, and some governments have issued advisories about toxic dyes being added to colour adulterated rice. Both black and white glutinous rice can be cooked as discrete grains, or ground into flour and cooked as a paste or gel.
Sticky rice is used in many recipes throughout Southeast and East Asia.
Compared to longer-grained rices, glutinous rice requires the least amount of water to cook. Because it breaks down easily, it's often soaked and then steamed instead of boiled. Although it doesn't taste sweet, it's also called sweet rice because it's often used to make sweet dishes in Asia. Glutinous rice used to make it into a rice pudding or drench it in coconut milk...