About this Recipe
“My name is Ilene Rouamvongsor, and I am a second-generation Laotian American. I’m submitting a recipe for khao tom mud, which is baby banana in sweet coconut milk sticky rice wrapped up in banana leaves and steamed until fully cooked. There is a savory version and sweet version. Both are nostalgic for me, but the sweet version caters to a vegan diet!”
Recipe by: Ilene Rouamvongsor
Photos by: Kylie Hope
- 2 cups raw sticky rice (rinse twice, then soak overnight or for at least 3 hrs)
- ¾ cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 (14oz) cans full-fat coconut milk
- Ripe baby bananas
- 10–12 banana leaves or pandan leaves
- Bamboo strips for wrapping
Cut banana leaves into 6×8 inches and 8×9 inches. Clean banana leaves with water and give a quick wipe, enough so that the leaves won’t stick together when prepping. Gently handle the leaves when you clean them as they do tear easily.
Drain your soaked sticky rice and rinse it a couple of times until the water runs almost clear, and then set aside in a bowl.
For the next step, I find that using a wide pot works best for even cooking. Pour the coconut milk into a pot and add 2–3 pandan leaves (tied into a knot) and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat. Let that come to a boil, and then slowly pour in all of the rice, a few scoops at a time, making sure to constantly stir every few seconds as you go. You do not want to stir vigorously as you do not want to break the rice. The rice should absorb the coconut milk, and it will become glossy and thick. At this point, add the sugar and stir until the sugar has been cooked into the rice thoroughly. You can turn down the heat a notch if it’s starting to smoke. Once the sugar has been cooked into the rice, turn the heat off and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Peel your bananas and cut them into halves. Align the 6×8 cut banana leaves on top and in the middle of the 8×9 leaves with the shiny sides up. Once the rice has cooled to room temperature, spoon a tablespoon onto the middle of the smaller leaf, place one halved banana on top, and then spoon another tablespoon on top to cover the banana. (You may find that it is roughly a tablespoon, give or take. Just practice with the first few and see what measurement fits inside best.) Fold the two opposite corners together, roll until tight, and then fold the top and bottom into the same side. Repeat until the rice is gone.
You want to take two finished rolls and place the folded sides together. Take the two bamboo strips, and with the first one, wrap around one end of the rolls. Once you meet the two ends of the strips together, simply twist them a few times and tuck in between the two khao tom mud rolls. Take the second string and do the same on the opposite end. There should be about an inch of room between the bamboo strips and the end of the rolls.
I use a traditional Lao steamer with a bamboo basket and curved metal pot to steam, but you can use any means to steam. Place khao tom mud rolls into your steamer and steam with water boiling in the pot on high for 45 minutes to an hour.
Wait a few minutes after taking them out of the steamer as they are extremely hot! Untie the bamboo and unfold to reveal a beautifully steamed sweet treat. Eat with a spoon or fork, or even better, just go in with your bare hands!
- You can use kitchen twine or tear off long strips from the banana leaves in place of the bamboo strips.
- If you find that the banana leaves are stiff to fold, you can quickly run them across an open flame to make them more pliable.
Thank you for reading. I hope this momentarily submerses you into this traditional Lao/Southeast Asian dessert!