Back to Basics: Making Black Rice Pudding

All over Southeast Asia, you’ll find a popular dessert made with black sticky rice. In America, most times, you’ll find these desserts made with white sticky rice and paired with some type of tropical fruit, usually mangoes or papayas. However, it’s the black sticky rice that reigned supreme during my visit to Vietnam. I instantly fell in love with the salty & sweet flavor. Mixed with coconut milk and palm sugar, I had a dish that brought back memories of my childhood in Hawaii. 

When I asked my Vietnamese and Thai friends about this dish, most of them said it was homemade. Something widespread, a thing most restaurants wouldn’t serve. Here in San Francisco, we’re lucky to have some of the most delicious and inventive foods around, but when it comes to getting authentic “home-cooked” meals, you might have to search a bit. So when I was craving this dish, I realized I would have to learn to make it myself. Thankfully, New May Wah in Richmond has everything a budding chef of Asian cuisine could hope for!

After picking up the necessary ingredients, I took a look at a few recipes online. Most of them had the same steps for preparing the dish, so instead of following a particular recipe, I decided to Frankenstein my own version, using some of the skills I picked up in my cooking class in Bangkok. It’s quick and straightforward, so just in case you’re interested in duplicating this dessert, here’s what you’ll need.


  • 1 cup glutinous black rice
  • 1 box coconut milk (Aroy-D is yummy, IMO)
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • ⅓ cup palm sugar (when I was in Thailand, my cooking instructor told me that PALM sugar was the way to go!)
  • 3½ cups water


  1. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Wash the rice a few times until the water looks transparent, and then it soak in water overnight. (If you can’t do overnight, 6-8 hours is fine)
  2. Drain the rice and rinse once more before placing it into a small-medium pot.
  3. Add salt, sugar, and water to the pot and bring to a boil. 
    1. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer. You want most of the water to be absorbed. It should take about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Just set a timer and keep checking, so it doesn’t burn. Firmer = more water absorption; Softer = more water in the pot.
  4. Remove from heat and stir one cup of coconut milk into the mixture.
    1. While it’s still HOT: Scoop out some of the mixtures into a serving bowl, top with some additional coconut milk. For an extra treat, put a scoop of coconut ICE CREAM on top of it.
  5. Enjoy!